Cork City

Services and Programmes


Now is a time of crisis, of reflection, of change in Ireland, and a time when decisions must be made about the future.  The years 1913 to 1923 were also a time of intellectual and political turmoil, when the State was born following the conflicts of the War of Independence and the Civil War.  The It Seems History Is To Blame programme will attempt understanding what happened, and why, and as a chance to learn lessons for our own time. 

Why this Programme?

Many institutions, and voluntary and community groups will, doubtless, have their own commemorative initiatives in the period 2013-2023, so it is worth considering why the city’s library service is getting involved. A public library is, above all else, a resource which is held in common by the people, by everyone in the community; a neutral space with no value judgements, open to all. Through our collections – books, journals, newspapers, other media – we are the collective memory of the communities we serve. Through our services and resources we foster learning and personal development. A public library is in itself an embodiment on a small and local scale of what a republic means. For these reasons a public library is well positioned to organize and host a programme of this nature.

The title of the programme – ‘It seems history is to blame’ - is a quotation from James Joyce’s Ulysses, and the launch takes place on his birthday, 2nd February. Ulysses is set in 1904 just before the revolutionary period, and was published in 1922, and this classic novel reflects many of the issues we will touch on over the next decade.  

The title of the programme also reflects the fact the Libraries programme will be book-centred, beginning with the ‘The Crucial 100’ - one hundred books, chosen by Libraries staff, which informed the cultural, intellectual, and political tumult of the early 20th century.