old tropes & new histories: an “Irish” reading of the Haddon Papers

is the theme of a 15 minute presentation by Dr Ciarán Walsh marking the centenary of the establishment of the Haddon Library. The event is part of Cambridge University’s Alumni Festival 2020 and is especially significant given that Walsh’s groundbreaking study of Haddon’s role in anglo-Irish anthropology started at the Alumni Festival in 2013.

The Irish section of the Haddon Library in 2013

Aidan Baker, the Haddon Librarian, invited Walsh to curate an exhibition of photographs from the Irish Ethnographic Survey as part of Alumni Festival 2013. The photo above captures the low level of interest in Ireland at the time, but, in preparation for the opening, Aidan searched the “locked room” for Haddon’s personal copy of the seminal “Ethnography of the Aran Islands, County Galway”, which the Royal Irish Academy published in 1893. For some reason Haddon didn’t keep a copy, but Aidan found his file on the Aran Islands, which had been ‘missing’ for a century or so.  

Aidan Baker, Haddon Librarian, with Haddon’s file on the Aran Islands, which was separated from the main body of his papers in 1913 and found in the Haddon Library in 2013.

That file contained ten pages from a journal that Haddon kept during his first visit to the islands in 1890, a manuscript of a commentary for the ethnographic slideshow that he performed on his return to Dublin, a sketchbook, photographic plates from “Ethnography of the Aran Islands, County Galway,” a map and other documents.

This triggered a sustained reading of the Irish component of the Haddon Papers in Cambridge University Library, guided initially by Dr John Pickles. That began in 2014 and culminated in a radical review of Haddon’s contribution to the development of Anglo-Irish anthropology in the 1890s: a major piece of doctoral research (funded by the Irish Research Council) that has just been completed.,

A small part of that research will be presented in this exploration of new facets of the life and career of Alfred Cord Haddon: