New Irish Religious Records in The Belvedere Book
I was recently informed of an exciting and interesting historical publication called The Belvedere Book. It has been published by the Belvedere College with assistance in its creation being given by Eneclann, the renowned Irish Genealogy experts. The book was commissioned in mid 2005 by the college, as the Belvedere College Board was scheduled to assume responsibility foe running the school from the organization that has been in charge since 1832 – the Jesuits, and wanted to commemorate the contribution the Jesuits have had to education. Eneclann was requested to assist in managing the project that would create the manuscript book that now contains the records of every Jesuit associated with the school since the 1840’s. It is quite a comprehensive publication, and it has been constructed so as to be suitable for long term archival preservation.
Belvedere College is also known as St. Francis Xavier’s College, and has a total around 1,000 students on full time enrolment. There are also some famous alumni of Belvedere, James Joyce the famous writer being the most notable, along with Jimmy O’Dea, star of the popular film Darby O’Gill and the Little People, John O’Conor – former head of the Royal Irish Academy of Music and Beethoven master, and Sam Stephenson, famous architect of the Central Bank of Ireland on Dame St, in Dublin to name a few.
Formerly the information on the Jesuits was recorded in Latin within the Annual Catalogues of Jesus in Ireland, which have been published since 1821 right up until present day. Information in the earlier catalogues is minimal, but since 1851 they have been quite comprehensive, giving full details of the Jesuit Priests employed there. The team from Eneclann has done a superb job in translating the Latin into English, the result being a wonderful leather bound manuscript book drawing on Celtic calligraphy and traditional Irish book binding.
The information contained in the new manuscript book is easy to access and follow, a page designated for every year containing the full names of the priests, scholastics, and brothers along with their professional positions and duties within the school. If your ancestor was a Jesuit priest in Ireland from the mid nineteenth century, you are pretty much guaranteed to find them here. By looking through the entries for the various years, you are able to easily identify the priests involved with the school during that time, the subjects they taught (you can even browse by subject), even the school doorkeepers are named.
Two expert calligraphers extracted and copied the information from the Latin catalogues over a two year period, using traditional inks made from natural pigments that were ground from minerals. The paper used was hand-manufactured into individual folios of four sheets of paper, then sewn together by hand. As modern paper is made from wood pulp, it decays at a faster rate, so the traditional hand manufactured version will be easier to conserve. The book was then bound in fine leather (made from goat, pig, and calf skin), and a linen presentation box made to hold it. It has truly received the attention that a historical treasure deserves.
Due to its delicate nature and historical value, the Belvedere Book can only be viewed in person and by appointment, but it is well worth doing if you combine a trip to Ireland with some genealogical research. If you’re interested in researching a Jesuit ancestor who may be entered in the book, you can contact the Jesuits in Ireland.