Dun Emer Press Seminar

“Spreading the News:  Publicity, Networks and the Dun Emer Press” by Dr. Caoifhionn Ní Bheacháin.

I attended this seminar recently and it was very interesting. It was great to discover that not only was Irish publishing taking place, but that it was being done by female workers at a time when they were really not supported in such a profession. Not only was great Irish literature able to be published in Dublin, but young women were being trained, educated and paid to work in the profession. There was a great archive kept, with material being stored for future reference, which provides opportunity for future explorations into the Dun Emer Press and the work they published.

Founded in 1902 until 1908 by Evelyn Gleeson, Elizabeth Yeats, and William Butler Yeats. The studio was opened in Dundum and concentrated on printing and other crafts such as weaving, embroidery and binding. They trained the girls in all these professions successfully. They focused on Irish Artists including Yeats. Evelyn Gleeson even used her inheritance to get it started. Her ideas on both philosophy and politics influenced her choices. There was no other such printing press in Ireland at the time. If an author wanted to be published, they really needed to go to London to do so. But Dun Emer was about Irish Authors. They had an ideology for Irish artists to be published by Irish publishers. This was difficult to establish as publishers already in London had a much wider audience; it was very challenging indeed. But it did bring a revival back to Ireland. It was very much about Irish books; not just Irish stories.

It gave a great sense of female autonomy – the girls had independence, their own income and freedom. By 1905 30 young women were in paid employment. Prior to this they had no skills. In 1905 a news article stated that it became a co-operative and all workers were members, very unusual for female workers at the time. This turned them into skilled craft

women of their time. It promoted a different perspective of Ireland: less Anglicized, a different geography so to speak.

See the link above for in depth information …….

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