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A new lecture series, entitled Blaze Away starts on Tuesday 3 February 2009 at the National Museum of Ireland - Decorative Arts and History, Collins Barracks, Dublin 7

This lecture series co-incides with a newly opened exhibition at Collins Barracks, also called Blaze Away. The lectures will examine the history of creating and using pistols and swords in Ireland before mass manufacturing as well as the evolution of small arms technology in the twentieth century.

Professor James Kelly, St. Patrick’s College, Drumcondra and author of ‘That Damn’d Thing Called Honour’ will give the first talk, surveying the colourful history of dueling in Ireland.

A lecture by Dr. Patrick Geoghegan, Trinity College Dublin and author of the book, ‘King Dan: the Rise of Daniel O’Connell, 1775—1829’ concentrates on the three duels fought by Daniel O’Connell. O’Connell infamously killed a Dublin Corporation official John D’Esterre on the 2nd February 1815.

Other speakers include the creator of the exhibition Blaze Away, Curator, Lar Joye, Paul Doyle, Registrar of the National Museum, Dr. Harman Murtagh, Athlone Institute of Technology and of the Military History Society of Ireland, Comdt. Gerry Shinners and Lieutenant Alan Kearney, of the Irish Defence Forces and Detective Inspector Kevin Brooks of An Garda Síochana.

Lectures will take place on Tuesday evenings between February and March

at 6.30pm in the AV Lecture Theatre at the National Museum of Decorative Arts and History, Collins Barracks. This series is free of charge - places are limited and will be allocated on a first come, first served basis.

For Further information on the lecture series please contact the Education and Outreach Department at Collins Barracks on tel: 01 6486 453 or e-mail:

For further press information or images please contact:

Elizabeth Evensen

Marketing Department, National Museum of Ireland

Tel: 01 - 648 6427 Mob: 087 9031690



Notes to Editor

· Lectures will be held in the Audio Visual Lecture Theatre at the National Museum of Ireland, Collins Barracks.

· Admission is free to all National Museum of Ireland sites – and to this Lecture Series.

· Free car parking available at Collins Barracks.

· Blaze Away, the title of the exhibition, was a term sometimes used to start a duel. In his memories Sir Jonah Barrington, K.C., (1760-1834) mentioned that to have participated in a duel was considered a sign that a man had character and came from a good background “…and a duel was considered a necessary piece of a young man’s education. The first two questions always asked when he proposed for a lady-wife were: ‘What family is he of? Did he ever blaze?’”

· Daniel O’Connell The most famous duelling encounter in the 19th Century was between Daniel O’Connell and John D’Esterre at Bishopscourt near Naas on 2nd February 1815. O’Connell criticised Dublin Corporation for its neglect of Catholics and D’Esterre as a member of Dublin Corporation wrote to O’Connell demanding an apology. When he refused this led to a duel. A large group was present at Bishopscourt and when they were ready D’Esterre fired first and missed. When O’Connell fired he hit D’Esterre and he died the following day.

· Insults accounted for most of the duels fought in the nineteen years between 1771 and 1790, followed by politics and elections in 2nd place and women trailing in 3rd place.

· The death rate for duels fought in Ireland was estimated to be 1 in 4, more than in England, which has a death rate of 1 in 14. Studies at the time estimated that less than a third of all duels ended bloodlessly.

· A code of conduct was adopted in Clonmel in the summer of 1777. These are the only surviving rules in the world

· Sometime women could become expert gun-makers; normally this happened when they took over a family business on the death of a husband. Elizabeth Eames of 1 Duke Street, Dublin took over from her father in 1795 and made duelling pistols till 1803.

· Duelling was so popular that by 1800, there were 19 companies in Dublin alone who were making or selling duelling pistols.

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