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RCB Library’s Palestinian Tour Images and Response To Plea For Information Featured On BBC Website

Press Releases

Added on 30/07/2012

Since the beginning of the year, the Church’s repository for archives, the RCB Library in Dublin began a new initiative aimed a showcasing some of its holdings – Archive of the Month, via the Church of Ireland website. In June, the featured ‘Archive of the Month’ was a fine collection of lantern slide images of a tour in Palestine taken at least 100 years ago which had been in the former Deanery at Killaloe, until the Dean of Killaloe, the Very Revd Stephen White, transferred them to the library. Digital technology made it possible for a worldwide audience to travel back in time to view items from this comprehensive collection of original images – a rare survival in Ireland. Viewers could see the wonders of the holy sites, as well as rare glimpses of daily life for ordinary people in the streets of Jerusalem and other places throughout the Judean ‘wilderness’ in Palestine as it was during the last days of Turkish rule. The RCB Library also appealed to the public for help in identifying the unknown photographer behind the trove of fascinating slides. Now, one month on, both the pictures and an answer to that plea for information have been featured on the BBC’s NI News Website: http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-northern-ireland-18983568

As the BBC website feature reveals, the photographs may have been traced to suggest the identity of a Presbyterian minister from Northern Ireland, the Revd Willie Wilson. Born in Belfast in 1869 and a minister in Coleraine, he had travelled widely and was renowned as a scholar and a gifted speaker. He gave an illustrated lecture on 8 December 1897 on ‘A Springtime in the Holy Land’ about his journey through Palestine earlier that year. According to a report in the Coleraine Chronicle, the lecture occupied a full two hours and ‘no–one wished it any shorter, not even the man who was nearest the stove’. Evidence of the link is provided in a book, New Row by Julia E Mullin which traces the history of Coleraine First Presbyterian Church. Dr Susan Hood of the RCB Library said to the BBC, ‘It is a very strong lead. What is interesting is that the Wilson family were involved in missionary work. They were very adventurous people. A brother was a missionary in India and they had the photographic gear.’ In February, the featured Archive of the Month (originating from the same source) was a collection of slides depicting the Dublin University Chota Nagpur mission in India which may be viewed at http://ireland.anglican.org/about/135

For further details on the Palestine archival images, visit http://ireland.anglican.org/news/4106 and to keep up to date with the current Archive of the Month, see the Church of Ireland website: www.ireland.anglican.org/library/archive


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