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HSE’s Dr Steevens’ Hospital to open its doors for Culture Night

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Dr Steevens’ Hospital, opposite Heuston Station in Dublin 8, is to open its doors to the public for Culture Night which takes place next Friday, September 21st.

Visitors are encouraged to take a free tour of the building’s historic Edward Worth Library and also visit the Boardroom between 6pm and 9pm on the night. Library tours will run at 6.30pm, 7.00pm, 7.30pm and the last tour will be at 8.00pm. Each tour will have a maximum of 20 people so please arrive in time for your chosen tour and register at reception.

Dr Steevens’ Hospital was founded in 1720 and was once one of Ireland’s most distinguished medical establishments. It is named after Dr Richard Steevens, an eminent 18th century physician who left money in his will to establish a hospital. It no longer functions as hospital and is used as offices by the Health Service Executive (HSE). 

Librarian Dr Elizabethanne Boran and Antoine Mac Gaoithín, library assistant will be the guides for visitors to the Edward Worth Library, a fascinating medical and scientific early modern library.

The Library, one of Ireland’s most distinguished eighteenth-century medical establishments, features the original book-shelves, cases, glass-panes and other fittings as they were in the 1730s.  The library collection is made up of some 4,400 volumes, the earliest dating from 1475. Most are sumptuously bound in decorated leather or are preserved in original bindings covered with vellum. Approximately one third of the collection is made up of medical and related scientific works, with classics, history, literature, philosophy, reference, and travel accounting for much of the remainder.

Visitors of all ages are welcome and the events are specifically family friendly. Find out more about the current library exhibition on “Mythical Creatures”. Here you will find Unicorns, Dragons and some of the creatures you might even see in Game of Thrones, a rare insight into the Library.

Tree-planting ceremony and activities especially for children

In addition to the Edward Worth Library tours a special event will take place in the Boardroom where the Climate Ambassador Programme will invite visitors to “Grow Your Share of Fresh Air" with Children’s activities from 6.30pm – 9.00pm. 

An Taisce Climate Ambassador and Crann - Trees for Ireland director Orla Farrell, together with the Health Service Executive, invite visitors to join in a tree-planting ceremony at 6.00pm.

It’s all part of the Easytreesie project in which children around Ireland and in over 100 countries are participating in a UN-backed trillion tree planting initiative.

A film will be shown explaining how climate change is affecting Africa and an art exhibition of stunning climate themed artwork will also be on display. There will also be a finger puppet corner with theatre.

See edwardworthlibrary.ie for more information and follow the event on twitter @HSE­­_HR  #CultureNight


Notes to editors:

This event will be wheelchair accessible and Irish Sign Language Interpretation will be available.

An Taisce – The Value of Trees – special activities for children

Inviting children to come to the family friendly event Orla Farrell of An Taisce

said: “Come and meet the 28 native trees of Ireland and create some of your own artwork with Mrs Olive Tree!  Did you know trees are all magical; they can talk using their roots. Imagine! 

“How on earth are we going to plant a million trees with Irish school children in five years? Who will help? Why do we need to do it?

“We will be planting a tree, a home for some of Ireland's mythical creatures. Will it be the Elder Elves, the Ash Army or the Oak folks who will take up residence near the banks of the Liffey? 

“We will also be inviting children to build a Lego bird house for our Willow Wagtails of the Worry Tree. Also why not become a windy musician and try our wooden and woodwind instruments - can you play the didgeridoo?

"Come on Ireland, let's make a Treemendous Effort and Get Our Act Together on Climate Change.” 

Mythical Creatures at the Edward Worth Library

Our new exhibition ‘Mythical Creatures at the Edward Worth Library’, is going online for Culture Night 2018.

This tour will include an introduction to Edward Worth (1676-1733), an early eighteenth-century doctor in Dublin, and his fantastic collection of books, which he left to Dr. Steevens’ Hospital. Like many early modern doctors, Worth was interested in natural history and his library holds a wonderful range of medical and scientific material. Doctors led the way in investigating nature in all its forms and sometimes (particularly in the early modern period), those forms took unusual shapes. This exhibition looks at some of the mythical creatures lurking in the Edward Worth Library.

As you might expect, Egyptian and Greek creatures may be found staring out of the pages of antiquarian works: pictures of the Egyptian sphinx (with the head of a man and the body of a lion), and the Greek Sphinx (a winged monster with a lion’s body and the head and upper body of a woman). We can see Oedipus, taking his life in his hands by trying to answer the riddle of the Greek Sphinx: if he failed he would be eaten, if he succeeded, she would be destroyed. Or perhaps you would like to know more about the terrifying Lernaean Hydra, or the many-headed Cerberus, or the slightly more charming winged horse Pegasus? Keeping on the horse theme we find Chiron, half man, half horse, who is perhaps most famous for being the teacher of Hercules.

But if historians and antiquarians focused on the mythical creatures of the ancient world, contemporary sixteenth- and seventeenth-century scientists were far more interested in the mythical creatures creating waves in their own time: the Sea Serpent of Norway, the Sea Monk of Denmark and the Sea Bishop of Poland. They were just as interested in unicorns as we are and different types may be seen cantering across the pages of some of our books, tracked by writers who learnedly discussed the various magical uses for unicorn horns.

Dragons too were not regarded as something that only appeared in the far distant past, for Worth’s collection tells us about the capture of the lethal basilisk of Warsaw (1587), and the political use made of the dragon of Bologna (1572). Dragons came in all different shapes and forms and Worth’s library includes some of the earliest images of winged dragons. Some, such as the Belon-Aldrovandi winged dragon looked very lively but others, such as Cardinal Barberini’s desiccated winged dragon were quite clearly hoaxes. If you like to know more about different types of dragon, visit us on Culture Night!

Not all dragons started out as dragons! Did the fairy Melusine, who may be seen brushing her long hair on one of our bindings, turn into a winged dragon? The myth of Melusine, Lady of Lusignan, was one of the most potent myths of the Middle Ages, and was still popular in the seventeenth century. What was she? Half-human, half-fairy who became half-human/half-serpent? Or did she turn into a dragon? And why did she sometimes look like a mermaid? And what is she doing on our binding in the first place? If you’d like to know more, come on our tour!

www.edwardworthlibrary.ie     @EdwardWorthLib

Last updated on: 14 / 09 / 2018