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By DFAT Historian-in-Residence Dr Angela Byrne

My role as Historian-in-Residence at EPIC is varied and allows me to work on many exciting projects: researching fascinating past lives, communicating their stories to the wider public, and collaborating with passionate historians, scientists, and creative professionals.

October has been another busy month! As well as finalising elements of our upcoming temporary exhibition, ‘Blazing a Trail: Lives and Legacies of Irish Diaspora Women’, I’ve also started research on our next temporary exhibition, on the theme of the Irish at sea. You’ll hear more about that as it develops in the coming months.

In the first week of October, I researched and wrote four pieces for the Irish Times digital edition’s ‘Extraordinary Emigrants’ series. These will appear weekly during the month of November, and will feature the atheist-turned-Theosophist and Indian nationalist Annie Besant, the poetry promoter and author Josephine Hart, Olympic swimming gold medallist Fanny Durack, and the only British woman to officially fight in World War I, Flora Sandes.

On 10 October, I had the pleasure of hearing Dr Niamh Shaw, the amazing engineer, actor and science communicator speak at EPIC as part of Space Week. She spoke on the theme of ‘Curiosity’, giving us her insights on what drove Irish women astronomers of the nineteenth and twentieth centuries to pursue science, as well as sharing what drives her own passion for space exploration. She even treated us to some footage she shot at a rocket launch at Baikonur Cosmodrome in Kazakhstan!

Dr Niamh Shaw giving her insights into Annie Maunder’s curiosity

The following week was very varied. There were some remaining tasks to complete for the upcoming ‘Blazing a Trail’ exhibition, ranging from publicity through to proof-reading the exhibition. I also had a few days in the National Library of Ireland, doing preliminary research for the exhibition on the Irish at sea.

Finally, I had to prepare a lecture I’m giving at the Royal Irish Academy on 14 November. Doing this three weeks in advance may seem overly-organised! But in my experience, it’s always best to be prepared well in advance. The Academy library is one of my favourite places to research, with its amazing collections and helpful staff.

Preparing for a lecture on the Russian Princess Dashkova and the Irish Wilmot sisters. Don’t worry, these books are from my personal collection – I’d never leave library books lying on the floor!

Keep an eye on our EPIC stories to see what Angela gets up to next.