CollectionPapers of Evelyn Gleeson and the Dun Emer Guild
Collection DescriptionEvelyn Gleeson was born in Knutsford, Cheshire on 15 May 1855. Her father, Dr Edward Moloney Gleeson (1815-1895), from Kilcolman, near Nenagh, co Tipperary, ran a general medical practice in Knutsford. He founded the Athlone Woollen Mills in 1859. Her mother Harriet Gleeson (née Simpson) was from Bolton, Lancashire. The family moved to Athlone in 1863 but Evelyn was educated in England where she trained as a teacher. She studied art in London for some years, principally at the Ludovici Atelier (1890-92) and for six months with the textile designer Alexander Millar, artistic director of carpet manufacturers Templetons of Glasgow. Templetons purchased several of Gleeson's carpet designs. While living in London she became involved in the suffragette movement and attended meetings of the Gaelic League and the Irish Literary Society. Evelyn Gleeson moved to Ireland to improve her health and in 1902 she bought a house called 'Runneymede', renamed Dun Emer, in Dundrum near Dublin which was to be the base for an arts and crafts business. She invited her two friends Elizabeth Corbet (Lolly) Yeats (1868-1940) and her sister Susan Mary (Lily) Yeats (1886-1949) to join her in the Dun Emer crafts studio. The Dun Emer enterprise was financed by Evelyn Gleeson with additional funding and support of her friend, the botanist Dr Augustine Henry (1857-1930). Evelyn was in charge of tapestry and handtufted carpets and rugs; Lily Yeats, who had trained under May Morris, was in charge of embroidery, and Lolly Yeats was in charge of handprinting limited editions of books by Irish authors in the style of William Morris's Kelmscott Press. In 1904 the Dun Emer crafts studio was organised into two parts: the Dun Emer Guild under Gleeson and Dun Emer Industries under the Yeats sisters. In 1908 the two groups parted completely with Evelyn Gleeson retaining the Dun Emer name and the Yeats sisters establishing Cuala Industries in Churchtown, co Dublin, comprising the Cuala Press and an embroidery workshop. In 1910 Evelyn Gleeson became a founder member of the Guild of Irish Art workers. In 1912 the Dun Emer workrooms moved to Mangan Hall, Hardwicke St, Dublin. After the departure of the Yeats sisters Evelyn Gleeson carried on with the weaving of rugs, tapestry and embroidery drawing inspiration from Early Christian interlace and zoomorphic patterns. Church patronage accounted for the bulk of the orders although they also made dresses, drapes, cushions, carpets and other items. A number of young women joined as workers and trainees, among them Augustine Henry's niece May Kerley to help with carpets and rugs, bookbinder Norah Fitzpatrick, and Maire Walker (Abbey actress Máire Ní Shuibhlaigh). Evelyn Gleeson's widowed sister, Constance MacCormack [1862-1921), lived at Dun Emer together with her children Grace (1898- 1982), Katherine ('Kitty') (1892-1975), and Edward (1889-1906). Constance managed the household at Dun Emer and both Grace and Kitty worked in the Guild from an early age. Kitty was an amateur actress, theatre set designer and author. As designer for Dun Emer Kitty worked on such projects as the Honan Chapel, Cork tapestries (1917), gold vestments for St Patrick's church, San Francisco (1923), and the carpet presented to Pope Pius XI (1931). Kitty carried on the work of the Guild after her aunt's death, aged 89, on 20 February 1944. The last home of Dun Emer, the shop in Harcourt St, Dublin closed around 1964. [Trinity College Dublin]
Collection Web Address
ReferenceTCD MS 10676

The papers of Evelyn Gleeson include the legal documents, agreements, prospectuses and circulars, and financial accounts relating to the establishment and administration of the Dun Emer guild (1902-20). Scrapbooks containing photographs and postcards of Dun Emer staff and craftwork, sketches and designs for vestments, rugs, embroidered costumes, Christmas card samples, bookplates and letterhead designs, tapestry dossals, designs for tooled leather bindings, exhibition catalogues. Articles, lectures, interviews and research notes, mostly written by Evelyn Gleeson, relating to Dun Emer, arts and crafts in Ireland, Athlone Woollen Mills, Irish history and the emancipation of women. Poetry, plays and fiction written by Evelyn Gleeson and Katherine MacCormack. Autobiographical memoir by Evelyn Gleeson and Gleeson genealogical notes. Photographs and drawings of Gleeson family members and Dun Emer interior and exterior. The collection includes over 400 letters including extensive correspondence (originals and transcripts) with Augustine Henry (1879-1930); other correspondents include Lily and Lolly Yeats, Sir Roger Casement, Padraic Colum, Katherine Tynan Hinkson, Susan Mitchell, Patrick Pearse, Grace Gifford, Joseph Plunkett, George Russell ('Æ'), poet James Stephens and Jack Yeats.

AccessBy prior appointment.
Century18th, 19th, 20th
Repository NameTrinity College Dublin, Manuscripts and Archives Department
AddressOld Library Dublin 2
EircodeD02 PN40
Telephone(01) 896-1189
Telephone 2(01) 896-3384
Repository Web Address
CommentThe information listed from this repository has been extracted from lists available in the archives. The lists were compiled by staff of Trinity College, Dublin Library and we are grateful for their assistance. Due to time constraints not all items in this repository were examined individually. We are grateful to Felicity O'Mahony for providing information on items and collections added since 1999.