A One-Name Study
for the Establishment of a Limerick Athaeneum" -I
William Lane Joynt, Esq.
Chronicle, 9th April 1853].
The Limerick Institution is
the oldest literary body in Limerick, but it partakes more of the social than
the literary character. Its chief
attraction is the reading of newspapers, the friendly association and
conversation of the members. Its
exclusive character and large subscription render it impossible to open it to
the general public, or associate it with the project now under consideration;
and it is not the intention of the supporters of an Athenaeum to interfere with
it in any respect - such interference would be equally unjust and impolitic.
Scientific Society" has been in existence for several years.
The unostentatious character of its members has not narrowed its utility
- its success - nor its promise of future usefulness.
It has supplied respectable lecturers from its own ranks on literary and
scientific subjects, and amongst its members will be found substantial elements
for the component parts of an Athenaeum - those who will contribute by their
subscriptions to found it - by their energy to work it - and by their ability to
render it successful.
The Literary and Scientific society it is unnecessary to describe to
its own members; but for the information of others I may state, was founded in
1847, for the purpose of improving the members in the practice of English
composition, and extending their knowledge of literary subjects.
Many of the original members will recall, with pleasure, the general
character of its meetings, and the delight and improvement which resulted.
The attempt to establish it was deemed so visionary, that its objects
were confined alone to the reading of essays, and the discussion of their
contents; but its success for the past five years, and in the present session,
is a signal proof that the most honourable distinction in literature and science
can be attained by the energy of some, and co-operation of all its members. From its foundation it was intended to be the nucleus for a
Limerick Athenaeum; but the liberality of other societies in Limerick shares
with it the common aspiration to make such an Institution the common property,
and a common benefit to all.
School of Ornamental Art
has only been a few months established. Its
success up to the present has been matter for sincere congratulation to the
lovers of Art. The expensive house
it now occupies is not exactly suited for the purposes of the School, and is
more than calculated to exhaust the energies of the master, Mr Raimbach, in
marching up and down stairs, from room to room, superintending the different
classes, who could be, with much more ease to master and pupils, attended to,
and taught, in large and commodious rooms, on the same floor.
The expenses and resources of the School, from the unwise parsimony of
the Board of Trade, are somewhat disproportional, notwithstanding the energy of
its Committee, and the sympathy of the public.
In the plan now suggested for its accommodation, much expense will be
saved, and a fund created for enabling the committee to render the School more
The Limerick Harmonic Society has been in existence for several years. The Concerts it has given are such as are beyond my humble
power to praise; but those who listened to the way in which the
"Creation" of Haydn, parts of the "Messiah"
of Handel, and the "Elijah" of Mendelssohn, have been rendered
must feel anxious to have a fit practice room for the members of that Body, and
a concert room, where, not only the friends of the members, but the community at
large could experience the delight of hearing the works of the great masters,
given in the most classical and refined manner.
The Social Inquiry Society has been formed within a short period.
It is connected with the Statistical Society of Dublin, at the head of
which is Archbishop Whately, Professor Handcock, and other distinguished
economists. As it deals with social
and economic subjects, it is deserving of support and attention, and might,
usefully to its members, be associated with the project under consideration.
With respect to the working classes, there is not belonging to them, as
far as I know, any establishment for literary or educational purposes in the
City This is the more to be
regretted, as they are the class, above all others, who are most in need of
education in the scientific department of industrial art, and are keenly open to
the beauties and influence of popular literature".
(To be continued in our next)
for the Establishment of a Limerick Athenaeum." -II
Chronicle, 13th April 1853]
William Lane Joynt, Esq.
(Continued from last
I have now briefly described all the bodies which are supposed to have
literary aims in this City; but I have not stated that all or any of them
possess a lecture theatre, a public library, a museum, or even a respectable set
of scientific apparatus. I have not
stated it, simply because I dare not state what everyone knows to be false.
Monstrous though the reflection be, in the second half of the nineteenth
centur, a City, containing fifty-four thousand inhabitants - the emporium of
wealth, commerce and enterprise - famed over the world for several productions -
seated on the finest river in the empire - surrounded by the finest agricultural
districts in Ireland - and not unknown to historic fame, or that Pantheon where
art, science and learning have collected their High Priests, is, notwithstanding
all these considerations, destitute of those means and appliances for
educational and scientific instruction which the smallest German principality
supplies to the citizens of the smallest towns in Badeau or Hesse Cassel.
To wipe away this stain - to blot out this reproach - is the object of
those who seek to establish an Athenaeum. To
establish, in military parlance, a "point d'Appui", from whence all
the literary and scientific operations of the City may be carried on with
discretion, energy and ability.
The Athenaeum should comprise a Lecture Theatre, Library, or Reading
Room, Museum, a Room for Classes, or Literary and Scientific meetings; and also
embody, if possible, on the terms hereafter stated, 'The Limerick Friends'
Society", "the Limerick School of Ornamental Art", "the
Limerick Literary and Scientific Society", "the Social Inquiry
Society", "the Limerick Harmonic Society", and any societies
which may, hereafter, be established, and which may, without violation of the
rules, become federal parts of the Athenaeum.
The Government should consist of a Board of Directors, annually elected,
consisting of a President, two vice presidents, a treasurer, and honorary
secretary, and 12 members, together with 2 members from each of the above
societies, selected by them, and deputed to represent and protect their
individual interests. It will be
evident, from this proposal, that each of the local societies would still
maintain and preserve its original laws, governnment, mode of action.
For instance, "the Harmonic Society" would preserve its musical
character, carry on its practices as usual, and maintain its regulations
regarding the admission of choir
performers. The Friends Scientific
society would preserve its objects for the advancement of science - its rules
for the admission of members, and the delivery of lectures, untouched by the
laws of the Athenaeum; and so on with the other bodies.
For the success of this plan and its practical usefulness, I may point to
the Manchester Athenaeum, which extends its shelter and protection to several
societies, such as the Essay and Parliamentary society, the Instrumental Musical
society, the Chess Club, the Dramatic Reading society, together with various
classes in the departments of language and science, which are all sectional
parts of the Manchester Institution. If
it were proposed to amalgamate all the societies in Limerick the plan would
fail. But this plan has, at least,
one virtue - it combines all that is really useful, and does not interfere with
the laudable jealousy which might object to the individuality of one society
being swallowed up, or lost in the amalgamation of all.
Taking it for granted that an Athenaeum can be, or at least ought to be,
established on such a basis, and that the various societies above referred to,
are filled with the impressions that such a building would extend the sphere of
their comforts and usefulness - let
us now consider. Firstly - What
would be the best site in Limerick for such a building?
Secondly - What will be the probable expense of such a building?
And thirdly - What are the ways and means for raising and
maintaining such a building?
The places are not numerous, notwithstanding the size of the city, which
from their position, size, and rent would be suitable.
The fine plot of ground at the Crescent, and corner of Newenham-street is
about 135 feet long and sixty in breadth. I
shall not praise the position, because I do not know the rent, having been
unable to see the proprietors; but the site could not be considered unfavourable
and enquiry ought, I think, be made on the subject. The premises occupied by Mr
John Fogarty, in Catherine- street, facing Trinity Church, are large,
commodious, well situated, and capable, according to the plans furnished by Mr
Fogarty, of accommodating all the societies above referred to, especially as
regards the plans of the rooms for the School of Ornamental Art, which have been
approved by the master of the school, Mr Raimbach; and the Lecture Theatre,
which can be so made as to accommodate from six to seven hundred spectators.
The rent demanded for this ground is £30 per annum; and it is stated Mr
Fogarty, himself, pays that rent, or at that rate for the place.
Mr Edward Cruise has a very fine plot of ground on the Military road,
between the Crescent and the Barracks. It
would be let on reasonable terms, or even a building erected on it by Mr Cruise,
for accommodating the several societies, according to some plans which that
gentleman is now making. I shall
conclude the list of sites by directing your attention to the garden adjoining
the mansion of the Earl of Limerick. It
is in Henry-street, facing Glentworth street and George street.
It is large beyond the required size; and the opinion of all those whom I
have conversed with on the subject is, that it is, par excellence, the best site
in Limerick. I am not aware of any
other suitable sites in Limerick, though I am far from saying that there are
none other suitable for our purpose. I
have given the list of those which may be procured, and it removes, at least,
one difficulty, to know that we have several from which to make a selection.
(To be continued in our next.)
Suggestions for the
Establishment of a Limerick Athaeneum" -III
William Lane Joynt, Esq.
Limerick Chronicle, 16th April
I now approach the second question - namely, what are the probable
expenses of such a building? In
dealing with this part of the subject, I desire to express distinctly, my utter
ignorance and inexperience of the mode of making up the estimate. But the data furnished by Mr John Fogarty, is, at least a
guide, by which some approach to accuracy may be determined. Mr Fogarty is the owner of the site, before alluded to, in
Catherine-street. He describes it
as "fronting Trinity Church, 130 feet in depth by 52 feet wide, which he
offers at the yearly rent of $30, with a subscription
of £50 for the undertaking", and he goes on to say in a letter
placed before a meeting held at the School of Ornamental Art, on the 19th
February 1853, that "he further offers to advance £500 on the building,
provided a similar sum is adavanced on the part of the society (Athenaeum). he then states he has procured a draft plan and estimate of
such a building as he deemed suited for the purpose, consisting of a theaatre, a
lecture room, 67 feet by 36, capable of seating 700 persons, and having
galleries designed by a museum, on the plan of the hall of arts at the
Polytechnic Institution, London; a private room for the lecturer, 20 feet by 12,
communicating with a laboratory, etc., 3 roms for distinct societies, a library,
each 24 feet by 16, capable of
being connected, as occasion may require; 3 rooms for the school of design, 48
ft by 23 ft., and 24 ft. by 23 ft., with master's rooms, and convenient offices,
apartments for caretakers, etc., upon such a scale of economy and ornamental
design as, he trusts will meet the approbation of the city in general, the
estimate of which amounts to £1500".
From this it appears that the expense of such a building as would suit
the wants of the Literary societies, the school of Art, and the Harmonic society
need not exceed £1500. That
£500 of that sum would be lent to Mr Fogarty, at interest at 6 per cent;
and that the public should subscribe £1000, of which he would subscribe £50
for the purpose of completing the building.
Those who are capable of judging of this offer state that it is a very
liberal and enterprising one on the part of Mr Fogarty; and his readiness to
advance £500 is at least a proof of more hope and faith in the establishment of
an Athenaeum than any expression of opinion, however liberal or enlightened.
The expenses, therefore, of such a building are known, - the sum to be
raised by donations would be, at the most, £1000.
I do not pretend to know the public mind of the city on the subject. I do
not pretend to know the exact sentiments of its merchants, its wealthy
residents, its professional men. I
may not understand the sentiments of its traders and working classes; but
I conceive I do not allow enthusiasm to run counter to my judgement, when I say,
with united, earnest, and thorough work, this sum could be raised
in 3 months. There is no
city in the world where appeals are so constantly made to the benevolent, the
affluent, the generous of all classes and persuasions, and in no city in the
empire are those appeals so triumphantly successful.
If this project be calculated to supply a great public want - if it has
in itself, that which commends it to the thinking and intellectual portion of
the citizens - if it be calculated, as assuredly it is, to develop before
the minds of the young, the rich treasures
of art, science and literature - if it
be managed with discretion, steering clear of the shoals and quicksands
on which its predecessor foundered; then, I conceive, the sum so required could,
nay will, be easily procured from our fellow citizens.
But it is not enough that the project should be matured, the site
selected, the building completed - when all these things are done much yet
remains to be accomplished. The
objects of such a building are before described, the ways and means for
maintaining it remains to be considered. Like
all institutions of the kind it chief support will be derivable from the
subscriptions of members. These
might, from the population of the city and the desire of all parties to support
such an institution, be taken at 400 annual subscribers. To make the Athenaeum open to all classes and thus establish
it upon a broad basis, the subscription should be low, and, if
possible, not more than 10s per annum.
I would also suggest that as in the Leeds and Manchester institutions,
ladies should be admitted as members, at half the annual subscription; and, I am
sure, that we might calculate upon, at least 100 ladies joining the society.
Thus, I conceive, £225 is
not too much to estimate as the income which might be derived from general
The Sectional Societies, to which I have referred, would be also bound to
furnish to the General Directors, such an annual sum as would be deemed fair for
the accommodation afforded. Thus
the Literary Society might, from its members - nearly 200 - be expected to pay
£20 per annum for the use of Lecture Rooms, Gas, and the distribution of its
circulars. The School of Design,
for the three fine rooms before referred to, £20 per annum - thus saving nearly
£40 per annum to the Committee, on the score of rent alone, and in exchange,
getting superior accommodation; and, I may add, with a surplus the general
committee could engage in no better expenditure than in enabling the committee of the school to extend its
usefulness, and impart to some youthful Barry or Shee that instruction in Art
which poverty has denied him at home. The
Friends' Scientific society could easily pay £10 per annum, as its contribution
to the general fund. The Harmonic
Society would also, I conceive, pay £10 per annum, for the use of the rooms for
its practices, and public concerts; and, by its own exertions, in a year or two,
place a fine organ in the lecture hall, such as may be found in the room of the
Ancient concert society in Dublin, and in many of the towns in England.
Thus, the yearly rent, £60, would be derived from these societies alone,
while much more would be easily raised from the Social inquiry and other
societies, and the occasional rent of the lecture theatre, for useful public
purposes. A surplus after
paying the rent would thus remain, of £225; and this would be chargeable with
the expense of keeping the place in repair, paying the wages of a porter, paying
for public lectures, and teachers of classes in science and languages, in the
purchase of books for the library, and in the general expenses attendant upon
such an institution. The museum would be commenced with those articles which
are, at present, kept in the rooms of the "Institution", and which
were handed over by the late Philosophical Institution to certain trustees, in
trust, that when any literary body open a museum, or lecture room, or proposed
to carry out the same objects as the Philosophical Society, the property,
consisting of books, a portion of their scientific apparatus, and stuffed birds,
and other matters, should be transferred to their legitimate successors.
There is also a fine collection of minerals in the room of the
Institution, which, I have no doubt, the Committee would place in the museum.
Many private citizens also would contribute to its formation and
(To be concluded in our next)
for the Establishment of a Limerick Athenaeum" -IV
William Lane Joynt, Esq.
[Limerick Chronicle, 20th April 1853]
In proposing to select a site, rent it, and erect a building, for public
purposes on it, I know that the charge of rashness may be made, and perhaps,
with some show of justice. The only
public building in Limerick, projected for literary matters, remains to this day
a monumental warning to all who project such schemes; and the fact that the
leading Institutions in Limerick, such as the "Chamber of Commerce"
and the "Limerick Institution" are content to dwell
in private houses, procured at the most moderate rent, may, and not
unfairly, be adduced as a proof that the Athenaeum should not rashly enter on a
wasteful and extravagant expenditure; but by beginning wisely and humbly,
advance as necessity demanded, and its resources warranted.
To this there is, and can be, but one reply.
No private dwelling house, or building of any kind, in Limerick, will
answer as a Lecture Theatre for the Arts and Sciences.
If the promoters of an Athenaeum were to take a house in George-street,
it would, at once, however remote the idea might be from the minds of the
projectors, be described as a rival to the Limerick Institution; and then a war
of extermination would follow. The
numbers which this year attended
several of the Lectures of the Literary and Scientific Society, prove that a
Lecture Theatre could be well filled in Limerick, on popular anad useful
subjects, even though it should contain 600 spectators.
The Leamy Institution has afforded its hospitable shelter for some years
to the Limerick Literary and Scientific Society; and the kindness of the
Trustees was as much the result of sound judgement as a full recognition of the
trust imposed by the will of the founder. But
this cannot always be hoped for; and the Society is now anxious to have, in
common with others, a fit building for literary and scientific purposes, which
they may call their own.
I have now placed before you those suggestions which appear calculated to
lead to the conclusion of the necessity for founding, and the probability of
maintaining, an Athenaeum. It is
for you, for the Citizens, to decide if the ideal shall become the actual.
No further reflections of mine can add dignity to the subject, or force
to the arguments. I have sketched the outline of the plan. -
The filling of it up must be determined by the wants, the interests, and
the judgement of the future. It
will be the duty of the Societies I have referred to, and individuals who, as
men of letters, are interested in the project, to develop the plan.
At present the practical result of what I have stated appears to be, that
a site should be selected, plans and estimates prepared of the expenses of the
proposed building on such a site, and, finally, that the citizens be appealed
to, for the means to carry out the undertaking , the expenditure of which should
be within a limited and reasonable sum.
There never was a time so favourable for the undertaking as the present.
The public mind of the city has been, and will be, completely roused on the
subject. The Government are fully
aware, as appears by the second able report of the Commissioners of the Great
Crystal Palace, of the necessity for maintaining schools of art and manufactures
in each of the large towns in the empire, such as may be found in France,
Prussia, and Belgium, and which have contributed so much to the industrial
progress of these nations. Limerick
has, hitherto, been neglected by the Government.
Ii can scarcely be deemed a stretch of imagination to suppose that a
school of arts and manufactures may be established in connection with the
Athenaeum, and even the grant to the school of art increased, if the citizens
display some taste, generosity, and sense of the value of such institutions, by
extending to them liberal and energetic support.
Our material wants are, at this period, closely attended to; several
public projects, of great public utility, are making this year a starting point
in the history of our city. The
Munster Fair, the New Corporation Bills, the Limerick Markets, the Ennis Railway
Steam communication with England, the Foynes Railway, in connection with the
question, of all others most important, a Transatlantic Packet Station, are
proofs that the mind of the City is not slumbering, but active, energetic, and
extended in its operations. Let
this year, also, be famous in our annals for the establishment of an Athenaeum,
as well as the commencement of those truly great undertakings.
I have now placed these "suggestions" before you.
I trust they will be received and read in no other sense than that in
which they have been hastily put together - namely, a sincere desire to aid the
establishment of an Institution in this, our native City, where the study of
Science will be encouraged, the taste for Art assisted, and the love of learning
promoted. - I have the honour to be, Gentlemen, your very faithful, humble
WILLIAM LANE JOYNT,
President, Limerick Literary and Scientific Society, 82, George street,
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