Political Christmas Cards
Donated cards from the Linen Hall Library's Northern Ireland Political Collection. Click images to enlarge
From miniscule messages written on cigarette papers by Hunger Strikers in the 1980s, known as 'comms', to the original plan clandestinely produced by Maze prison inmates for the 1983 IRA escape plan and rarely-seen photographs of the main political players, the collection never fails to surprise.
Alongside such ephemera is a collection of political Christmas cards that the library currently has on show.
Donated by a whole host of legal and illegal organisations - from the Orange Order and the IRA, to the British Army and the now defunct Civil Rights Organisation - the cards on show are poignant, tragi-comic reminders of life during the Troubles, from both sides of the political divide.
'The Northern Ireland Political Collection at the Linen Hall Library has been collecting printed material relating to the conflict in Northern Ireland from the onset of the Troubles,' explains Ross Moore, library assistant with the Northern Ireland Political Collection.
'Over the course of four decades the collection has amassed over a quarter of a million items, collected from all sides and reflecting all perspectives.
'The collection’s holdings span the gamut of print production: academic studies and government publications are housed alongside more ephemeral items such as election flyers, badges, posters, postcards and Christmas cards.
'A selection of Christmas cards are currently on display in the political collection’s reading room. While representing only a fraction of the items held in the NIPC, they give some indication of the breadth and variety of printed ephemera which has been produced in relation to the Northern Irish Troubles and peace process.
'One of the earliest cards on display was produced by the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Association in 1972 - ‘Christmas Greetings From N. Ireland’ is the message below a picture of Father Christmas, spread-eagled against a wall and under interrogation from the security forces.
'Black humour is often the vehicle for a serious point and inside the card lists eight NICRA demands.
'The political collection’s holdings are still growing. One of the more recent additions to the Christmas card collection reflects current public relation efforts by the Orange Order. In this instance, the Orange Order’s cartoon super-hero, ‘Diamond Dan’, is depicted as ‘Santa’s Little Helper’.
'Amongst such items, one unobtrusive card, paradoxically, catches the eye. It is a miniature card with a traditional design of angels and trumpets. On opening, this typical Oxfam card from 1972 contains the additional, untypical, printed message:
'Between 10th Feb. and 2nd Dec. 1972 THE PARISH CHURCH OF SAINT GEORGE received severe damage from 9 bomb blasts. This card, from the Oxfam shop blown up on 27th July, was found among the debris which landed on the church and churchyard.'
A selection of Christmas cards from the Northern Ireland Political Collection will be on display in the collection’s reading room until early January 2009.