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Irish Studies Resources for Graduate Research

A guide to accompany an information session for graduate students, January 2016. Reference sources and primary sources for Irish studies.


The Irish collections include many discrete collections as well as a strong collection in Irish studies which is accumulated book by book. Within literature, fiction is a strength of the collection and so it includes famous fiction writers from Maria Edgeworth and Sydney Owenson to  Edna O'Brien and Anne Enright. It also includes less-famous or even anonymous writers, hence anyone researching detective fiction, girls' novels, children's literature or 'Troubles Fiction' would find a treasure-trove here. 

Along with strengths of the fiction collection, the library actively collects books associated with many writers, notably Jonathan Swift, W. B. Yeats, Oscar Wilde, Paul Muldoon and Thomas Kinsella. Literature in the Irish language is an important part of the collections, and the print collection is complemented by a growing number of manuscripts. The papers of Patrick McCabe and of Éilís Ní Dhuibhne complement the print collections in Irish fiction.

A growing area of interest has been women's writing, and the collection of women writers includes many rare works.  This collection is complemented by the archives of publisher Arlen House.

The historic collections include many primary sources that cast light on politics, religion, economics and social life in Ireland. There is an exceptionally strong collection of pamphlets of all kinds, from the eighteenth through the twentieth centuries. They are individually cataloged and dispersed throughout the library collection, and are best discovered through careful searching in the library catalog. Assistance with questions on these collections is always available from the Irish studies librarian.

Primary sources on the twentieth century included the pamphlet collection on Northern Ireland given by Thomas Bartlett, the collection on Peace and Reconciliation given by Ronald Wells, and a large number of religious and political pamphlets acquired in recent years. 

In addition to primary sources, there is a large collection of books on Irish history. From Richard Stanyhurst, writing in the sixteenth century, to the Nun of Kenmare, whose books are well represented in the Library, Ireland's history is told in many ways. Many of the Irish histories came from the library of Francis O'Neill.

Alongside the book collections, other print collections include periodicals, broadsides, prints, ballad sheets, and a considerable collection of Irish maps. There is also an Irish stamp collection.

Individual collections are listed in the sections below, with links to further descriptions where available. If further information is required, please contact the Irish Studies Librarian or the Special Collections Department.



Collections and Areas of Focus

Most print collections listed here are bound books, but some are mixed format and some are pamphlets or ephemera. Individual books are listed in the library catalog, and manuscripts and ephemera are generally listed in archival finding aids. Major collections and also collection strengths are described below with links to further information if available.

Abbey Theatre Programmes (See Theatre Programmes, below)

1798 Rising 
Over eighty titles pertaining to the events preceding, during, and folloiwng the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Included are pamphlets, memoirs, biographies, histories, three contemporary newspapers, and a complete set of the Irish Parliamentary Debates as well as court proceedings and parliamentary reports.  

Berkeley Collection
The George Berkeley Collection of Arthur Aston Luce
Arthur Aston Luce (1882-1977) was the biographer and editor of the Irish philosopher, George Berkeley (1685-1753). This collection of over 290 volumes includes Luce's personal library of early editions of Berkeley's works and of other writers such as Bacon, Descartes, King, Locke, and Smith. Many of them contain Luce's penciled notes.

Burke Collection
The Edmund Burke collection from the personal library of William B. Todd, the bibliographer of Burke.

Charabanc Collection
A collection of programs, scripts, posters and some audio-visual media representing an archive of the Charabanc Theatre.

Cuala Press Collection
Books, broadsides and Christmas cards from the Cuala Press. The Library has a very extensive collection of the work of this press.

de Bhaldraithe Collection
A collection of books from the estate of Tomás de Bhaldraithe was acquired by the Hesburgh Library. Manuscripts, typescripts and theses are organized in a manuscript collection while the books may be identified by a note in the library catalog.

Early Irish Print Collection
The core is a collection of seventeenth-century books acquired in 2006. 

Irish Fiction Collection
The Loeber Collection, acquired by the Library in 2003, forms the nucleus of a collecting initiative that seeks to include all fiction by Irish authors or connected with Ireland. 

Literary Collections
To determine the extent of the collection of editions by an author, use the Advanced Search function of the library catalog, search under author, and limit the scope of the search to 'Special Collections'.

Mangan Collection
The research collection of Rudi Holzapfel on James Clarence Mangan.

Manuscript Collections
A separate list below provides information on collections of manuscripts and ephemera in the Hesburgh special collections. Major manuscript collections include the papers of Patrick McCabe, the papers of Éilís Ní Dhuibhne, the archives of Arlen House publisher, and the papers of J. J. O'Kelly. 

Maps and Sea Charts
The collection of maps and sea charts,given by Thomas McGrath, Jr., has now been complemented by a number of Ordnance Survey maps and atlases. 

Periodical Literature
The collection of periodicals from the nineteenth and early twentieth centuries includes publications from Ireland, Britain and also America. See this blogpost for more on the American periodicals.

Ó Glaisne Collection
A large collection of Irish language books, mainly from the twentieth century. Books from the collection of Risteárd Ó Glaisne are in the Hesburgh Library and also in the RBSC. Special collections include the novels of Cathal Ó Sándair and a collection of plays in the Irish language.

O'Neill Collection
The library of Captain Francis O'Neill, a major collection of Irish music and also of books on Ireland, collected by O'Neill in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries.

Swift Collections
The Library has actively collected books by Jonathan Swift and his contemporaries for many years, including two large collections, the Vienken Collection, which sought to replicate Swift's personal library, and the Swift Collection of Michael Foot.

The Special Collections include a large collection of plays from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries, many published in Dublin.

Theatre Programmes
‚ÄčThe Hesburgh has a large collection of programmes from the Abbey, Gate, Gaiety and Olympia theatres. 



Manuscript and Ephemeral Collections

William Allingham Letters
MSE/IR 1014
Forty letters written by William Allingham of Ballyshannon, County Donegal to his brother, John Allingham at Capel Street, Dublin, between 26 June 1829 and 29 March 1865. All the letters communicate business transactions, and there are occasional notes on the family and on local affairs.

Arlen House Publisher Archives
MSE/IR 2718
The papers of Irish publisher Arlen House.

Brendan Behan Manuscript
MSE/IR 1071
A typescript by Brendan Behan, of a short story, “A Coat for Confirmation”. 10 pages.

Charabanc Theatre Collection
MSE/IR 1060
Archive of the Charabanc Theatre, 1985-1993.

Liam Creagh Collection on Brendan Behan
MSE/IR 1070
A guide to the letters, typescripts, pictures and ephemera relating to Brendan Behan (1923-1964) from the collection of Liam Creagh.

Cuala Press Ephemera Collection
EPH 5002
A collection of cards and prints published by Cuala Press along with catalogs and related ephemera.

Thomas Davis Collection
MSE/IR 1001
The Thomas Davis Collection consists of manuscript drafts of Irish nationalist ballads and verses composed by Thomas Davis (1814-45), Young Irelander and co-founder and writer for The Nation, an important Irish nationalist weekly newspaper.

Tomás de Bhaldraithe Collection
MSE/IR 1401
Correspondence, notes and theses from the collection of Tomás de Bhaldraithe, Irish scholar and lexicographer. The Tomás de Bhaldraithe Collection includes 54 items, ranging in date from 1939 to 1985. It includes 10 theses, 3 letters from Máirtín Ó Cadhain to de Bhaldraithe, 1 letter from Máire Mhac an tSaoi to de Bhaldraithe, materials relating to academic positions for both de Bhaldraithe and Ó Cadhain, manuscript lists of words from Ó Cadhain’s writings, and press cuttings and lectures regarding Ó Cadhain.

Aubrey de Vere Letters to Robert Perceval Graves
MSE/IR 1040
Letters from Aubrey de Vere to Robert Perceval Graves mainly regarding Sir William Rowan Hamilton.

Drumbo Soup Kitchen daybook
MSE/IR 0100
A daybook, or notebook listing all the receipts and expenditures for Drumbo Soup Kitchen from December 1846 to March 1848, accompanied by a sheet of tickets for Drumbo Soup Kitchen.

1916 Easter Rising Ephemera Collection
EPH 5027
An ephemera collection containing reports, speeches, and commemorative materials relating to the Easter Rising of 1916 in Ireland.

Irish Fiscal Reform League Ephemera Collection
EPH 5028
A small collection of materials relating to tariff reform in Ireland in 1910.

Irish broadside ballads
BPP 1001
A collection of 559 broadsides, most measuring 28 x 11 ½ cm. Broadsides were printed and sold in streets and at fairs and markets from the early days of printing, often by ballad singers. These broadsides were mostly printed in Dublin, probably between 1860 and 1876, by the printer P. Brereton.

Robert Lynd Correspondence
MSE/IR 1050
Letters received by Robert Lynd from Irish correspondents..

Patrick McCabe Papers
MSE/IR 2717
The literary papers of writer Patrick McCabe.

John MacHale Letter
MSE/IR 1016
A letter written by John MacHale (1791-1881), Archbishop of Tuam, to Thomas Moore (1779-1852). The letter is dated 19th March, 1844 and concerns MacHale’s translations to Irish of a selection of Moore’s Melodies.

Rudi Holzapfel Collection of James Clarence Mangan
MSE/IR 2720
Large collection of research on James Clarence Mangan.

Éilís Ní Dhuibhne Papers
MSE/IR 1035
The literary papers of writer Éilís Ní Dhuibhne.

Pádraig Ó Concheanainn Papers
MSE/IR 1083
A collection of papers of Pádraig Ó Concheanainn (c. 1907-1988), relating mainly to his work as secretary of the Irish-language publisher, An Clóchomhar. The largest group of letters is correspondence from author Dónall Mac Amhlaigh. The collection also includes some personal papers and items relating to the Ó Concheanainn family.

Eugene O’Curry Manuscript Copy of Félire Oengusso.
MSE/IR 5301-1B
A copy, transcribed by Eugene O’Curry (1794-1862), of a manuscript, Félire Oengusso, (The Martyrology of Oengus), bound in Dublin by the Sign of the Three Candles. The manuscript was given by Shane Leslie to the University in 1944.

Liam O’Flaherty’s The Informer.
MSE/IR 1008
A typescript by Dudley Nichols of his screenplay of Liam O’Flaherty’s story.

Tom O'Flaherty Collection
MSE/IR 1082
A collection of papers of Tom O'Flaherty (Tomás Ó Flaithearta)(1890-1936) of the Aran Islands, including manuscript and typescript fiction and autobiography, and letters, all apparently written from 1933 to 1935 after his return to Ireland from the United States, where he lived for twenty-one years. The papers included drafts of short stories and of chapters of an autobiographical novel.

Uilliam Ó Foghludha Manuscript
MSE/IR 5302-1B
Nineteenth-century manuscript book containing religious writing, verse, notes and shopping lists. The scribe was William Ó Foghludha (William Foley). The volume was given to the University by the Rev. E. P. Lorigan of Chilton, Wisconsin.

J. J. O’Kelly Papers
MSE/IR 1032
A collection of the papers of J.J. O’Kelly (Sceilg) and of his family.

Captain Francis O'Neill papers
MSN/MN 0502
A collection of papers relating to the donation of the personal library of Captain Francis O'Neill to the University of Notre Dame, including correspondence with the university and an inventory of O'Neill’s library.

Captain Francis O’Neill Manuscript of Henry Hudson
MSE/IR 5300-2B
Bound music manuscript of Henry Hudson, from the O’Neill Collection.

Captain Francis O’Neill Manuscript of P.D. Reidy
MSE/IR 5300-1B
Bound music manuscript of Patrick Reidy, dancing master, given by him to Francis O’Neill.

Sweetman Collection
MSE/IR 4018
The Sweetman Family Library, given to Notre Dame in 1997, includes a number of manuscripts from the Sweetman house, Clohamon, County Wexford.

Ronald Wells Collection on Peace and Reconciliation in Northern Ireland
MSE/IR 1032
A collection of material on peace and reconciliation in Northern Ireland. See blogpost for a further description.