Tuesday, August 4, 2009

Alfred Lord Tennyson

This week sees the bicentenary of the birth of Alfred Lord Tennyson (1809-1892). Information here and you can actually hear him read some of The Charge of the Light Brigade here.

Sometime around 1967 I bought a cheap second-hand volume of the complete poems of Tennyson, published by MacMillan in 1891, in one of those bookshops on the quays in Dublin. I have it still though I don't think I ever actually read much of it.

Recently I took it down and noticed that the cover had been embossed with the crest of Alexandra College, Dublin and inside the cover was a certificate - awarded as a Scripture prize in Alexandra College, Dublin in 1891. The school crest has been changed since 1891 it appears.

I was especially interested in the signatures on the certificate. The Isabella Mulvany, who was headmistress from 1881 to 1927, was a well known figure in the history of education in Ireland. She was among the first group of women to obtain university degrees in Ireland when she and eight others were awarded degrees from the Royal University of Ireland in 1884.

She is mentioned in Women in Ireland, 1800-1918 By Maria Luddy.

To mark the admission of women students to the degrees of the Trinity College University in 1904 the honorary degree of LL.D. was conferred on a number of women including Isabella Mulvany in June 2004. Trinity College still awards a scholarship for a pupil of Alexandra College, value €508 a year for two years. This was founded in 1928 by subscription by the pupils and friends of Isabella Mulvany, to mark their appreciation of her labours on behalf of higher education.

Isabella Mulvany was also the great-aunt of the poet Richard Murphy.

Isabella Mulvany was the elder daughter of the Christopher Mulvany who had been Civil Engineer of the Grand Canal company and formerly of the Board of Works.

Alexandra College has been in the news recently.

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