History of the Heritage Centre

It started back in 1999 with a committee of two and now it has grown to a committee of 7. The current chairperson is Liam Breen. The other members are: David Breslin, Edward Nealon. Fergus Dunne, Sean Dwyer, Séamus Clandillon and Peter McAuley.

A room was provided in the premises of Edmund Rice School for Deaf Boys for the Centre after much lobbying with the CID. Recently, we got four rooms, the Heritage Centre Exhibition Room, the Library and two offices.

The work involved after it was formed was the size of an ice berg. The work involved was a lot harder than we thought and it took us ten times longer than we thought to do a small project. A good example would be cleaning an old book it can take as long as two to six months. David Breslin and I volunteered and worked hard to get things organised. Nor was it an easy task in collecting all the materials from the huge campus of St. Josephs. Examples are as follows:

  • Materials dated from the 1830’s to the present time.
  • Most books about the Deaf community found are very rare.
  • Film clips dating back to 1930s Oil paintings.
  • Trade Crafts.
  • Teaching Materials.
  • Photographs.
  • Deaf related magazines dating back to the 1940s from America, England, Germany, Spain and France.

We are proud to say that we had the first official visit from Japan, a group of more than 20 people. David Breslin was the tour guide. He had no problem communicating with them by using International Sign Language. The Japanese thought our museum was very interesting and they want to set one up something similar themselves in their country.

When the Centre had been established and opened, we got many visitors, including Hugh Buckley the first Deaf researcher, some of whom were really impressed by our huge collection of findings and materials which are the vital key to the ‘past’.

In 2012, The DHC has developed the Deaf museum, located on the top floor of the original Chapel Wing of St Joseph’s School, Cabra (now known as Thomas Mahon Building) adjacent to the hub that is Deaf Village Ireland. The building has been restored at the cost of €2.1 million, funded by the Catholic Institute for Deaf People.

History of 16 mm ‘cine’ camera

In 1935, a superior of St. Josephs, Br. Keegan bought a ‘cine’ camera. It was an old fashioned movie camera. He took a few shots of the building development of one section of St. Joseph’s building where the chapel was. In the shots, it showed the building from two stories to three stories. The chapel was then moved up to the top floor. The new classrooms were on the first floor and the playground was on the same floor, the ground floor.

A few years later Br. Keegan left for another post and Br. Callaghan took over. He wa no expert on the ‘Cine Kodak’ 16mm camera and took no film roll. He then gave it to Br. Riordan. He was an expert and took over 30 hours of reel cine spanning from 1936 to 1978. In 1992, he asked Liam Breen to take good care of it and he passed it on to him. Liam took it home with him. Then when the Deaf Heritage Centre was formed, he passed it on to the centre. We are very grateful to Br. Riordan for taking many Elms which are very valuable. Most of the Elms were of boys and pastpupils signing in different places.

History of Photography

We also have roughly over 1,000 photographs and they were taken by Br. Fitzgerald, Br. Wall and Br. McAIister. The photographs were mostly of classrooms, communion, confirmation, various sports, school trips and pastpupils.

Deaf-Related Books

We also have about 150 books, magazines and journals dating back to 1800 in the Deaf Heritage Centres library.