Curious Experiments

In 1743 posters advertising a series of about 50 ‘Curious Experiments’ appeared around Dublin. The experiments to be performed were intriguing and mysterious. Some of them also sound just a little bit dangerous: ‘Two cold Fluids coming together instantly flame with Violence’.

 The Competition

Marsh’s Library in Dublin has the only surviving copy of this ancient poster. We set a challenge for second-level students: could they recreate some of these ‘Curious Experiments’?

We offered a prize for the most ingenious and entertaining recreations of the experiments. Our  judges were  Mr Andreas Roth of Essen, Geramany; Dr Gerry Hyde, Chief State Examiner for Physics; and Dr Fiona Desmond, Chief State Examiner for Chemistry. The prize was awarded to Stratford College, and their teacher, Ms Nicola McCarthy was presented with a cheque for €500 for the school and certificates for the students. The classes from Moyle Park College and St Andrew’s College were highly commended by the judges and received certificates as runners-up.

The prizewinners’ ceremony took place on 11 September in Marsh’s Library. The teachers were presented with the awards by Mr Paschal Donohoe, TD, Minister for European Affairs: the awards included individual certificates for each student in recognition of their participation.

You can see the winning entry below.

The Background

The 1743 posters advertising a series of ‘Curious Experiments’ designed for ‘The Amusement and Entertainment of Ladies, as well as Gentlemen’ appeared in public places around Dublin. More than fifty experiments were to be performed by a certain Boyle Godfrey before paying audiences.

Boyle Godfrey was a London-born doctor and chemist who fled to Ireland in 1742 owing a lot of money. He was named after the famous Irish-born scientist Robert Boyle, for whom his father had worked as a laboratory assistant in his younger days.

Almost 270 years after Boyle Godfrey staged these experiments, they have been brought to life by students from three Irish schools: Moyle Park College, Clondalkin; St. Andrews College, Blackrock; and Stratford College, Rathgar.

Interested in recreating the experiments? You can download a high-res version of the original advertisement! 

Curious Experiments 1743
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The Library is open to the public and particularly welcomes school groups. Admission to the library and exhibition is free for school groups. To book a visit, simply email keeper@marshlibrary.ie


Curious Experiments 1743
10.3 MB
1600 Downloads
Details...