Armagh Robinson Library has launched its next temporary exhibition Swift 350 to mark the 350th anniversary year of Jonathan Swift’s birth. The exhibition shows examples of his writing from the Library’s collection. It will remain on display until the end of the year, and will complement both the Library’s Rokeby Lecture on Thursday 23 November and Georgian Day on Saturday 25 November.
Born in Dublin on 30 November 1667, Jonathan Swift was a writer of prose, poetry, essays, letters and sermons. The Library has examples of all of these. Indeed, works on and by Jonathan Swift are still added to the Library, as Swift remains one of its main collecting themes.
From 1713 until his death in 1745, Swift was Dean of St Patrick’s Cathedral, Dublin, and so is known as Dean Swift. During that time, he made several visits to County Armagh, staying with the Acheson family of Gosford, Markethill and the Cope family of Loughgall. His time with the Achesons led to the creation of the ‘Markethill Poems’, which Swift always maintained were written for his own amusement and not for publication. Some critics, however, think that Swift wrote one of them to criticise the large increase in military spending at that time.
The exhibition was researched and set up by Thirza Mulder, the Library’s Archivist, and its Visitor Assistant, Rachel Toner. It was launched by Professor Andrew Carpenter, who was in Armagh to celebrate National Poetry Day with the City Chapter. The Keeper of the Library, the Very Revd Gregory Dunstan said, “We were delighted to welcome Andrew Carpenter to Armagh, to launch this exhibition and to speak on Swift’s poetry. As Emeritus Professor of English at University College Dublin, a member of the Royal Irish Academy, and an authority on seventeenth- and eighteenth-century Irish poetry in English, he is exceptionally well-qualified in this field. As a research library, we value our connections with all the universities of this island.”