The Belvedere Book

Client: The Board of Belvedere College
Project: The Belvedere Book
Date: 2005-2006

 Entry for Michael O’Ferral, Rector of Belvedere, 31 July 1858

About the Project
The Belvedere College Book was commissioned by the College Board from Eneclann in 2005-06. The Belvedere College Board were due to take over the running of the school from the Jesuits and wanted to commemorate the Jesuits’ contribution to education in Belvedere.

Eneclann’s Role
They asked Eneclann to help them manage a project to create a manuscript book that would record all those Jesuits connected with the College from its inception in the 1840s, down to the present-day. They required it to be suitable for presentation and ultimately for long-term preservation in an archive.

The Annual Catalogues
Information about Jesuits involved in Belvedere College was originally recorded in Latin in the Annual Catalogues of Jesus in Ireland published from 1821 to the present. The earliest reference to the College in the Catalogues is in 1838 when it states ‘In this year there were five priests and one brother’ with no further information given. After 1851 the entries in the Catalogues are complete with full details given. Eneclann’s team translated the text so that it could be recorded in English in the manuscript book.

The result is a magnificent manuscript book hand bound in fine leather, which draws on the finest traditions of calligraphy and book binding in Ireland. There is a page for every year, providing the names of all priests, brothers and scholastics, and their professional duties in the College.

Traditionally Hand-Crafted

Cover of the Belvedere Book

The information extracted by our researchers was handwritten onto pages by two calligraphers, over the course of a year. The calligraphers used traditional inks based on natural pigments ground from minerals, and hand-manufactured paper made from [insert here]. (Modern paper is derived from wood pulp but decays at a faster rate, so this was a real conservation issue). The individual folios (sheets of four pages), were then fitted together and hand-sewn, before the book could be bound in a fine leather binding. A linen presentation box was prepared to hold the completed manuscript book.

The bookbinding and cover design was undertaken by conservation bookbinder, Paul Curtis, of Muckross Conservation Bookbinding, Killarney, Co. Kerry. The binding was primarily in dark brown leather, but used five different types of leather including goat-skin, calf-skin and pig-skin. The cover depicts St. Francis Xavier’s journeys to India in the first half of the 16th Century. The binding of the Belvedere Book was hand-sewn in Muckross House according to traditional book-binding methods.

In preparing the Belvedere Book, Eneclann and our collaborators on this project drew on traditional crafts that have been practised on this island for over 1,500 years.

Belvedere’s Most Famous Pupil: James Joyce
James Joyce attended Belvedere College between 1893 and 1898. By looking through the entries for these years (click on the thumbnails below) it is possible to identify all the Jesuits connected with the college during Joyce’s schooldays – from the door-keeper, to Joyce’s own school-teachers. It is even possible to pick out teachers of specific subjects by name, and maybe ponder on the personalities and the monickers that Joyce and his school mates contrived for them. Most interestingly, these are the men who shaped the mind of the young James Joyce.