Jim Figgerty is no more. But his spirit lives on in the Jacobs' Archive and Douglas Appleyard Collection of Jacobs' Memorabilia, formally presented to Dublin City yesterday by Valeo Foods who inherited the archive when thy took over the brand, and Douglas Appleyard, a former Jacobs employee, historian, and collector of the memorabilia.
I don't know whether it's passion or just distraction, but the older I get, and I am very old already, the less I care about making a fool of myself in public. And that's how I crashed the photo session in the Ardmhéara's parlús, only to find I was still wearing my distinctlively downmarket rainproof anorak. Never mind. To paraphrase a totally different brand ad "it's the photos that count".
[l-r] Ellen Murphy - Senior Archivist, Mary Clarke - City Archivist,
Críona Ní Dhálaigh - Ardmhéara, Kieran Glennon - Valeo Foods,
Douglas Appleyard, Margaret Hayes - City Librarian.
And while I'm at it, I notice that even in English language releases the term Lord Mayor is giving way to Ardmhéara, much on the lines of Taoiseach. I wondered initially if it might be related to Críona's political affiliation but it then struck me that it is a very convenient, distinctive, and gender neutral term and I hope it remains in use after her stint at the Mansion House.
I had never heard of Valeo Foods, though, of course, I was very familiar with Jacobs. Oh dear, I thought, another foreign takeover of an Irish brand. So I went to their site and found they are headquartered in Dublin. And you won't believe the number of extant and nostalgic brands now under their roof. I won't bore you with a long list but take a look at the timeline on their website - starting with Odlums at the beginning of the Famine, or, just check out individual brands.
Anyway, Kieran gave a good speech and stressed how happy the company were to be making the archive of one of their iconic brands available to the people of Dublin.
I only wish Liptons, or whoever owns that brand today, would do the same. My grandfather was briefly manager of Liptons in Birr and his career crashed. I still don't know why, but am consumed with curiosity. So I do appreciate the value of Valeo's gift to the public realm.
Now, I've been at a few things launched or introduced by the Ardmhéara in recent times and I have to say I think she is unique. Her passion and enthusiasm for her subject, and knowledge of it, are a wonder to behold.
And Jacobs really pushed the button. In the middle of a lively speech of thanks, and before she even got to taste the biscuits, she invited the audience to join her in a Jacobs' jingle, which, not surprisingly, at least half those present did. Great fun and nostalgia by the bucketful.
We then had a viewing of some old Jacobs moving advertisements. The audience had a great view but not so good those on the platform. So Críona took to the steps the better to see the biscuits. Douglas, who had endured forty years of this stuff seemed less pushed.
But then, even he could not restrain himself from seeking a better view and joined Críona in the cheap seats, or to be precise, no seats at all.
This is the third time I've been in the Oak Room of the Mansion House in a matter of weeks, and it is an indication of the extent to which the Ardmhéara is making her residence available for community and other public interest functions. This is how it should be, long may it last.
I mentioned Douglas Appleyard's collection of Jacobs' memorabilia. Now, that may sound a bit boring but believe me it's not. I've been at Douglas's illustrated talk on Jacobs and on his memorabilia in particular and it is a fascinating collection of material which is readily identifiable as intrinsic not only to the city but to the country in general. But that's only part of the story. Douglas has also striven mightily to ensure that the company archive itself has been preserved and then presented to the City. So this was a huge day for him and his family. Well done Douglas.
Ellen Murphy has overall responsibility for the reception and treatment of this archive in the Dublin City Library and Archive in Pearse Street. She deserves to take a bow on this occasion which is purely the public face of an enormous amount of collaborative work on this archive and collection which has been going on behind the scenes in Pearse Street for a while now. Today's occasion, while celebrating the gift to the public archives, is really marking its presentation to the wider public.
And for those among you who may have an interest if following all this up, here is the score, as Ellen explained it to me.
There is now a database with over 3,300 entries which can be viewed in the Reading Room in Dublin City Library and Archive. Each database entry has a reference number and this can be used to call up original documents and memorabilia from the collection which can be viewed by members of the public in the reading room. All items from 330 boxes are available in the Reading Room with the following exceptions:
- Some oversize items have been sent to off-site storage. These have been digitised so an individual can see an image instead.
- Employee files are closed for data protection reasons. Some access to information may be given to direct relatives of deceased employees . Email firstname.lastname@example.org for further information.