This site uses cookies to improve your experience and to provide services and advertising. By continuing to browse, you agree to the use of cookies described in our Cookies Policy. You may change your settings at any time but this may impact on the functionality of the site. To learn more see our Cookies Policy.
OK
Dublin: 8 °C Monday 30 March, 2020
Advertisement

Drunken robins, oysters and sailors: 24 cards of Christmas past

Some of these cards collected by the National Library are over a century old – but show that even the Victorians could be gaudy and bawdy in their festive celebrations.

DESPITE THE ADVENT of e-cards and social media, the Christmas card has not yet gone the way of the handwritten letter.

The National Library of Ireland has been celebrating this fact by releasing a series of Christmas cards sent by or created by famous historical or artistic figures. Enjoy browsing – and a very happy Christmas to you.

Drunken robins, oysters and sailors: 24 cards of Christmas past
1 / 24
  • Fairy Queen by Mícheál Mac Liammóir, 1918

    The actor, writer, artist and impressario drew and sent this card from Howth to theatregoer Joseph Holloway, writing: "Thanks so much for your card. Just, to wish you a happy Christmas, Mícheál." (Joseph Holloway Collection)
  • Drunken robins, circa 1876

    From Arthur Conan's Christmas scrapbook.
  • New Year, 1880s

    This from Georgina Pim's Album of Christmas cards (Georgina lived at Crosthwaite Park, Dun Laoghaire) shows a boisterous New Year "in the garb of a true Irish boy" come to "dance at the wake" of the Old Year.
  • Sleigh pulled by birds, 1880s

    Again from Georgina Pim's Album of Christmas cards, birds - not reindeer - provided the pulling power at Christmas.
  • Proud Christmas pudding, late 19th century

    From Arthur Conan's Christmas scrapbook.
  • Verse by poet Susan L Mitchell, early 20th century

    The image was by Lady Glenavy, RHA, and it was printed by Lily and Lollie Yeats. (Cuala Press Collection)
  • Festive oysters, circa 1876

    From Arthur Conan's Christmas scrapbook.
  • Turkeys

    From scrapbook album, the Conan-Strahan Collection.
  • Father Christmas and his little friends, no. 2, circa 1880s

    Printed in Belfast by Marcus Ward & Co. (Scrapbook album, Conan-Strahan Collection)
  • A Spirited Policy: The Christmas attitude of turkey, 1896

    From the Joseph Holloway Collection.
  • You must have a Happy Xmas, 1919

    A card drawn by artist Frank O'Neill to avid theatregoer Joseph Holloway. (From the Joseph Holloway Collection)
  • With added 'grunt'. 1880s

    Card sketch is by Lord Ralph Kerr who illustrated The Owl and the Pussy Cat. The sender has added a 'grunt'. (Georgina Pim's Album of Christmas cards)
  • Holly and mistletoe, 1880s

    From Georgina Pim's Album of Christmas cards.
  • A doomed Christmas romance, circa 1876

    Hand-drawn card: He thinks she's a cracker, but she thinks he's too big-headed. (Arthur Conan's Christmas scrapbook)
  • Illustration by Jack B Yeats, early 20th century

    The verses are by Katharine Tynan. (Cuala Press Collection)
  • Polar explorers, Victorian era

    From scrapbook album, Conan-Strahan Collection.
  • Father Christmas and his little friends, no. 3

    Printed in Belfast by Marcus Ward & Co. (From scrapbook album, Conan-Strahan Collection)
  • Father Christmas and his little friends, no. 4

    Printed in Belfast by Marcus Ward & Co. (From scrapbook album, Conan-Strahan Collection)
  • The Lord of Misrule, circa 1880s

    The Lord of Misrule, responsible for festive revelry, had very ancient origins. He was known in Scotland as the Abbot of Unreason, in France as Prince des Sots.(From scrapbook album, Conan-Strahan Collection)
  • Image by Lady Glenavy, early 20th century

    The verse is by Monk Gibbon and the card is printed by the Yeats sisters at Cuala Press.
  • Flashing sailors, 1880s

    From Georgina Pim's Album of Christmas Cards.
  • "Maye thys Newe Yeere dispelle all Stormes & Stryfe"

    Printed in Belfast circa 1880s by Marcus Ward & Co. (From scrapbook album, Conan-Strahan Collection)
  • The Magi by WB Yeats, early 20th century

    The Yeats verse is illustrated by Nano Reid. (Cuala Press Collection)
  • A dahlia, maybe.

    "I tried to pain, excuse the failure, the thing is meant to be a Dahlia." (Georgina Pim's Album of Christmas Cards)

All cards from collections at the National Library of Ireland

  • Share on Facebook
  • Email this article
  •  

About the author:

Read next:

COMMENTS (2)