The Dun Emer and Cuala Press

Though many books are printed in Ireland,
book printing as an art has been little practised
[sic] here since the
eighteenth century. The Dun Emer Press has been founded in the hope of reviving
this beautiful craft.

– Dun Emer Press prospectus, 1903

Evelyn Gleeson established the Dun Emer Industries in
Dundrum County Dublin in 1902. “Dun Emer,” or “Emer’s fort,” is named for Lady
Emer, wife of the Irish epic hero Cuchullain. She was known as a skilled
artisan.

The industries were created to “find work for Irish hands,”
and more particularly Irish women’s hands, in the production of handmade
crafts. Elizabeth Corbet Yeats, sister of the poet William Butler Yeats,
founded and directed the Dun Emer Press, the book publishing arm of the
venture.

Dun Emer Press was committed to publishing truly Irish books
with high literary value. The paper was handmade Irish paper, and the books
were bound in Irish linen. The literary works were also Irish; the first book
from the press was In the Seven Woods
by William Butler Yeats, in an edition of 325 copies.

Cuala_004_3
 

In 1908, Elizabeth Corbet Yeats split from Dun Emer
Industries to establish the Cuala Industries. The books were still produced
exclusively by women. Cuala Press continued to publish Irish authors in the
same standard format. Eventually the press’s roster of poets would include
Yeats, Lady Gregory, J.M. Synge, Patrick Kavanagh, Louis MacNiece, and Thomas
Kinsella, among many others.

Cuala_003_3
 

The Special Collections Research Center has a number of Dun
Emer and Cuala Press books. You can browse them by searching for the publisher
name in the online catalog or Lens, the library’s faceted browser.   

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