Before Christmas I paid a visit to the National Print Museum at Beggars Bush in Dublin. The museum collects, documents, preserves and exhibits the material evidence for printing in Ireland.
The ground floor of the building is filled with a wide range of artifacts that cover the whole range of printing in Ireland from its introduction in the 16th century to the invention of the typewriter and computers. The museum houses printing presses, binding machines, printing blocks, metal and wooden movable type, ephemera and photographs. The artifacts span the ages of printing and are interspersed with poster boards that detail different aspect of the story of printing in Ireland, charting advancements and innovations in the industry, what it was like to work in printing etc .
One of the most elaborate looking machines on display is the Columbian Press, one of the most widely used printing presses in the nineteenth century.
The museum also has an Albion Press a contemporary machine manufactured in London in the 1820s.
One of the most interesting artefacts on display is an original printed copy of the 1916 Proclamation (on loan until 1916).
The Proclamation was printed at Liberty Hall on the Sunday 23rd April by printer Christopher Brady and compositors Liam O’Brien and Michael Molloy.
On receiving the text of the document, the printers began setting up the type, the shooter being used to lock the type into position. They soon found that there was insufficient type for the job and eventually concluded that they would have to print the document in two halves. The compositors set the type for the first half and printed about 2,500 copies. They then re-set the forme to print the second part on the bottom half of the same sheets (http://www.museum.ie/The-Collections/Documentation-Discoveries/March-2014/Printing-Press-Shooter-%E2%80%93-Printing-the-Proclamation).
This historic document would have been printed on a machine similar to the Wharfedale Stop Cylinder Press on display in the museum.
The Museum hosts temporary exhibitions throughout the year, on my visit they were show casing a wonderful exhibition displaying the works produced by graphic design students at Distillers Press from 1983 until the present.
The National Print Museum is a wonderful place for any book lover to pass an hour. Entry is FREE and there is also a wonderful coffee shop attached. Apart from exhibitions the museum runs a range of educational programs including art and craft workshops such as Introduction to Letterpress, Printmaking (including Drypoint & Chine Colle, Linocut, Japanese Woodblock and Monotype), Calligraphy, Bookbinding, Artist’s Bookmaking, Batik, Origami, Silk Painting and Card making.
For more information visit the National Print Museum website http://www.nationalprintmuseum.ie/
To find out more about the Proclamation see