Friday, January 22, 2016


Padraig Yeates giving this year's Gilbert Lecture

Padraig Yeates used the provocative title "The Women were worse than the Men" for his Gilbert Lecture in the Dublin City Library and Archive on 21/1/2016. The talk was on crime statistics for Dublin in 1916 and the conclusion, among others, was that it was mostly the women who were up to no good that year.

No doubt that will bring howls of protest from the resident feminazis who can point to all sorts of qualifications applying to the statistics and, indeed, Padraig hopefully pre-empted much of this gender indignation by outlining these qualifications himself.

If that's not enough, we can, of course, take refuge in the traditional ballad which long ago told us:
So it's true that the women are worse than the men,
For they went down to Hell and were sent back again.
However, it would be doing Padraig an injustice to just concentrate on the women. The talk was actually about overall crime in the city during the year and the statistics were sourced from the DMP prison books. The books are currently housed on the 15th floor of Liberty Hall but will go into the custody of the Garda Museum once they are put on line by UCD in March.

The talk's title didn't seem to take a feather out Lord Mayor, Críona Ní Dhálaigh, who gave us a litany of Padraig's writings and books, before introducing him as speaker for the night.

Having taken his life in his hands at the outset, Padraig did produce copious evidence of the predominance of women in the crime statistics of that year.

He nevertheless covered various other categories of crime, high among which was desertion from the British army. He mentioned one Englishman who deserted thinking that, because he was in Ireland and because conscription had not been introduced here, he oould get away with it. He soon learned to his cost that it was not so. I could have warned the poor man that even Irishmen who were resident in Britain were being conscripted.

A lot of the women in the crime statistics were involved with looting one way or another. Some had actually nicked stuff while others, like Dickens's Fagan, had bands of youngsters doing the heavy work for them while they either used or flogged the fruits of the labours of youth.

Padraig mentioned that, where there was a choice, the authorities usually went for the lesser charges in the case of women - mere possession rather than the more serious breaking and entering or destruction of property. He also reminded us that children as young as six years of age also figured in the statistics. In those days, a crime was a crime irrespective of the age of who committed it.

[front row r-l] Padraig Yeates, Críona Ní Dhálaigh & Kevin Whelan

There was a packed attendance, though clearly a few VIPs had not turned up and, like the men in the porch at Sunday mass, those standing at the back were reluctant to plonk themselves on what were clearly designated as VIP seats.

Críona Ní Dhálaigh presents book to Kevin Whelan

One VIP who definitely did turn up was Kevin Whelan, who gave last year's Gilbert Lecture. The way it works is that, at each occasion of the annual Gilbert Lecture, a book containing the previous year's talk is published and a copy presented to the author.

[l-r] Brendan Teeling, Críona Ní Dhálaigh & Padraig Yeates

Posing for the obligatory photo. Brendan Teeling is the Deputy City Libarian. He had apologised at the outset for the absence of the City Librarian, and promptly kicked off the evening in his usually ebullient manner.

After the talk, there were refreshments and lots of chat and informal networking. This space is currently taken up by the library's excellent 1916 exhibition which both leans toward the Rising action in the vicinity and uses lots of material from the Dublin City Archive upstairs.

I hope to do a post on this exhibition which runs till June. Meanwhile I have tweeted a few photos.

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