News Archive


Age of Vikings in Latvia

Age of Vikings imageAs part of a nationwide celebration of Latvian history and culture by the Latvian Embassy in Ireland and to mark Latvia's Presidency of the Council of the European Union, the Academy library hosted an exhibition 21-23 April inclusive: the 'Age of Vikings in Latvia'. This exhibition accompanied  a lunchtime lecture on 22 April, delivered by the Director of the National History Museum of Latvia, Dr Hist. Arnis Radins: 'Relations of the East Baltic sea region and Scandinavia in the 7th-12th century in written and archaeological resources'

This event was graciously hosted by the Latvian Embassy.


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Book of Ballymote Conference


Venue: Academy House, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2.
Date: Thursday 5 February - Friday 6 February 2015.

The Book of Ballymote (BB), compiled between the late-fourteenth and early-fifteenth centuries, is one of the most remarkable Irish manuscripts we have. Its size and extent, the range of material it contains and its striking illumination all mark it out as an important work of late medieval learning. Its 251 folios contain, among many other works, texts such as Lebor Gabála Érenn, Lebor na Cert, Dindshenchas Érenn, Banshenchas Érenn, Cóir Anmann, extensive genealogical tracts listing the pedigrees of some of the most prominent Irish population groups and families, lists of saints, biblical texts and adaptations of classical material.

There are many questions that can be asked about this remarkable codex and the society in which it came into being. What was the intent of the scribes and scholars who compiled it? Why were the texts found in the BB so chosen? What sources were used in its compilation? Why was it so extensively and richly decorated? How does BB relate to other medieval manuscripts, in particular, the slightly later Great Book of Lecan? What do we know of the later history of BB?

These and other questions will be explored at this conference at which scholars from institutions in Ireland and the United Kingdom will examine many aspects of this extensive and imposing manuscript.



Mapping city, town and country since 1824: the Ordnance Survey in Ireland

Our exhibition (1 July 2014– 30 January 2015) is ‘Mapping city, town and country since 1824: the Ordnance Survey in Ireland. Organised by the Library and the Irish Historic Towns Atlas (IHTA), the exhibition focuses on the Academy’s extensive collections relating to the ‘great national work,’ the mapping of Ireland at a scale of 6 inches to one mile. The 6-inch maps are an essential source for the investigation of nineteenth-century Ireland – city, town and country. Every headland, mountain, river, field, plot, bleaching green, public building, is recorded for posterity. These maps form the basis of two forthcoming IHTA publications:

Frank Cullen, Dublin 1847: city of the Ordnance Survey.

Rob Goodbody, Irish Historic Towns Atlas No. 26, Dublin, part III, 1756 to 1847.

In the course of the OS mapping, directed by Col. Thomas Colby, assisted by Lieut. Thomas Aiskew Larcom (later under-secretary for Ireland, 1853-68), the project expanded to include a range of activities. For example, a significant feature of the project was the compilation of Memoirs – information on the landscape, topography, features of antiquarian interest, population, economy and society, gathered systematically. The purpose of this information was to supplement the maps and ‘to collect and diffuse information for the benefit of every class in society.’ The Memoirs contain a fund of information and include 1,640 sketches of archaeological, antiquarian and architectural features. Funding for the Memoir compilation was cut in 1839-40, thus only the Ulster counties are fully documented. Intended for publication from the outset, the OS Memoirs were finally published in 40 volumes in the 1990s. The Academy has now published a selection of the Memoir drawings:

Angélique Day, Glimpses of Ireland’s past – the Ordnance Survey Memoir drawings: topography and technique.

This publication seeks to illustrate the skill of the OS artists/engineers and the scope of the material selected for sketching and recording.

The importance of placenames was recognised at an early stage and John O’Donovan, the renowned Irish scholar, was engaged at the Placenames & Topograpical Department which generated the Name Books (originals held at the National Archives), ‘the alpha of the memoir.’ The objective was to adopt names closest to the original Irish form. George Petrie, artist, antiquarian, musician and collector, ran the department from his house in North Great Charles Street, Dublin. This was the base from which O’Donovan, Eugene O’Curry (lexicographer), James Clarence Mangan (poet and scribe), William Wakeman and George Victor du Noyer (artists) sallied forth on fieldwork of various kinds. O’Donovan, O’Curry and others, whilst dispersed around the country working on the placenames, reported back to Larcom, often on a daily basis. The resulting OS Letters, from 29 Irish counties (Antrim, Cork and Tyrone were not covered), concerned as they are with local families, antiquities and lore, form a major resource for antiquarian scholars, lexicographers and local historians.

Other material generated by the project, the OS Extracts, contain relevant material culled from primary sources, in Latin and Irish, some of which are not extant.

Our exhibition uses all of these resources to illustrate the scope and depth of the OS engagement in nineteenth-century Ireland.

The exhibition is on view Monday-Friday, 10.00 -17.00 hours, except on conference days at the Academy. Check the website for up-to-date viewing times.

Mapping city, town and country lecture series

A series of lunchtime lectures was organised covering all aspects of the OS project. Lectures were held in the Meeting Room, Academy House, and were recorded for podcast purposes.

27 August 2014 Heritage Week Lecture Dr Jacinta Prunty,
NUI Maynooth: ‘The map-making of the Ordnance Survey: challenges on every front’

1 October 2014 Prof. William Smyth, MRIA, UCC: ‘The Ordnance Survey Six-inch Mapping Project: political and cultural agendas’

8 October 2014 Prof. Nollaig Ó Muraíle, MRIA, NUI Galway: ‘Translations?: The Ordnance Survey and Irish place-names’

15 October 2014 Paul Walsh, Department of Arts, Heritage & Gaeltacht: ‘George Petrie’s “Topographical Department” (1835-42)’

22 October 2014 Angélique Day: ‘Glimpses of Ireland's past: drawings in the Ordnance Survey Memoirs’

29 October 2014 Prof. Michael Herity, MRIA: ‘John O'Donovan's work for the Ordnance Survey’

5 November 2014 Rob Goodbody: ‘From Rocque to the Ordnance Survey: mapping Dublin 1756 to 1847’

12 November 2014 Dr Frank Cullen, IHTA: ‘Dublin in 1847: city of the Ordnance Survey’

19 November 2014 Colin Bray, Chief Executive, OSI: ‘Ordnance Survey Ireland: mapping our future'

The Battle of Clontarf: Library Exhibition and Lectures

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The exhibition drew on the Academy Library collections and displayed manuscripts relating to Brian Boru, and variant versions of the story of the Battle, told through the centuries. Antiquarian drawings and maps of the Clontarf area were also included in the exhibition.

A series of lectures was organised on the momentous events of 1014, Brian Boru, the Vikings in Ireland and much more, also the focus of an exhibition based on the Library collections. The exhibition ran from March until the end of June 2014.

Details as follows:

Tuesday 25 February 2014  Dáibhí Ó Cróinín, MRIA, NUI Galway ‘The Vikings in Ireland: the Good, the Bad, and the Ugly’
Tuesday 4 March Seán Duffy, TCD ‘Winners and losers at the Battle of Clontarf’
Tuesday 11 March Colm Lennon, MRIA, NUI Maynooth ‘The Battle of Clontarf in Irish history and legend’
Tuesday 18 March Meidhbhín Ní Urdail, UCD ‘The Battle of Clontarf story in eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Irish manuscripts’
Tuesday 1 April Donnchadh Ó Corráin, MRIA, UCC ‘Dál Cais, Déis, Ó Briain – changing places, changing identities’
Tuesday 8 April Stephen Harrison ‘The Battle of Clontarf: the archaeological evidence?’

We were pleased to present two lectures, hosted respectively by the Embassies of Denmark and Norway in Ireland on Thursday 22 May, 12.00-14.00. 

12:00-12.45  Dr Anne Pedersen, National Museum of Denmark, Copenhagen, ‘ Power and Politics in late Viking-Age Denmark’
12.45–13.30 Jon Vidar Sigurdsson, University of Oslo Ireland, Norway and Iceland in the second half of the 13th century
13.30–14.00 Questions and Answers

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Library Exhibition: Aon Amharc ar Éirinn

Gaelic families and their manuscripts - 1 July 2013 - 28 February 2014. Click here for more information. Aon amharc ar Éirinn: Gaelic families and their manuscripts (Dublin, 2013) is available to purchase from our publications page here. Please note: The exhibition ended on 28th February 2014.


‘Colm Cille’s Spirals: art, history and legacy of Colm Cille’, a seminar at the Academy Library, Thursday afternoon, 21 November, 2013

‘Colm Cille’s Spirals: art, history and legacy of Colm Cille’, is a seminar exploring places, objects, facts and myths connected with St Colm Cille (521-597 AD). The seminar will include a paper on the Cathach manuscript (purportedly penned by Colm Cille) placing it in the context of other manuscripts of the period, and there will be an opportunity to see the manuscript itself.

For full details of our seminar click here

Online registration closed to register please phone 01 6090601

This seminar is part of Colm Cille: the Object, a Dublin City Council initiative taking place this November. The City Council programme features walking tours on 14, 15, 21 and 22 November (tours must be booked) and an especially commissioned art installation at St Mary’s Abbey. For full details of the tours and the exhibition go to The Academy Library is the first stop on the walking tours.

This Dublin City initiative is part of a wider Colm Cille Spiral project, a creative collaboration taking place in Derry, Iona, London, the Hebrides, Northern England, Wales and Dublin.

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Library lunchtime lectures: Autumn 2013

Tues 22 October 2013, 1.00 pm
Raymond Gillespie, MRIA, NUI Maynooth
The Book or Fenagh, or an imagined life

Tues 5 November 2013, 1.00 pm
Liam Breatnach, MRIA, School of Celtic Studies, Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies
The Brehon Laws and medieval Irish society

Tues 12 November 2013, 1.00 pm
Edel Bhreathnach, Discovery Programme
Seanchas: the key to history in medieval Ireland

Tues 26 November 2013, 1.00 pm
Damian McManus, MRIA, Trinity College, Dublin
Cormac mac Airt in Classical Irish poetry: young and wise but not entirely flawless

The Autumn 2013 series of Library Lunchtime Lectures will be at 1.00 pm on Tuesdays in the Meeting Room, Academy House, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2.

These lectures accompany the Academy Library’s current exhibition ‘Aon amharc ar Éirinn / a glimpse of Ireland: Gaelic families and their manuscripts’. On view is a selection of our medieval manuscripts in the Irish language, connected with hereditary professional learned families who specialised in seanchas (history), leigheas (medicine), reacht (law), or filíocht (poetry).


Culture Night 2013

Culture Night 2013

Thank you to the 1,400+ visitors who joined us to celebrate Culture Night at Academy House, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2. Our current exhibition ‘Aon amharc ar Éirinn: Gaelic families and their manuscripts’ continues on weekdays until February 2014, so why not return at your leisure for another visit. 

Dublin 1610 to 1847: cartographic comparisons' exhibition hosted by the Irish Historic Towns Atlas is also on view in the Meeting Room until December 2013.


Library Heritage Week lunchtime lecture (Wednesday, 21 August 2013, 1-2 p.m.)

Dr Elizabeth Fitzpatrick, School of Geography & Archaeology, NUI Galway: ‘The O Davorens of Cahermacnaghten: a learned family of brehon lawyers and their scholarly networks ‘.


Library exhibition (7 - 25 June 2013)

‘Roderick O’Flaherty (1629-1716/18): an Irish antiquarian’. Click here for more information.

Library lunchtime lecture (Wednesday, 12 June 2013, 1-2 p.m.)

Dr Richard Sharpe, Professor of Diplomatic at Oxford and author of Roderick O’Flaherty’s Letters 1696-1709 (RIA, 2013): ‘Ruaidhri Ó Flaithbheartaigh through his letters: a learned Gaelic chief and his Oxford friend in 1700’.

Science at the Royal Irish Academy: ‘uniting whatever is pleasing with whatever is useful’: an exhibition: July 2012 - May 2013

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To celebrate ‘Dublin City of Science 2012’ the Library has organised an exhibition showcasing some of the important historic science collections held by the Academy. These focus on Ireland’s foremost mathematician and scientist William Rowan Hamilton (1805-65) whose mathematical genius led to discoveries including his work on dynamics which formed the basis for Erwin Schrödinger’s work in quantum mechanics. The exhibition also highlights the contribution of Richard Kirwan (1733-1812), second Academy president, who played a significant role in the fields of chemistry, geology and meteorology, and whose work was known and honoured throughout northern Europe and in America. The father of seismology, Robert Mallet (1810-81), is also remembered as is the botanical fieldwork of Robert Lloyd Praeger (1865-1953) and the collecting of entomologists, Alexander H. Haliday (1807-70), Richard John Ussher (1841-1913), and others. The Academy’s role in promoting scientific debate and publication since its earliest days is also discussed.

The exhibition and accompanying booklet are the result of a collaboration between Academy members, Duncan Thorburn Burns and James P. O’Connor, as well as Nigel Monaghan, Keeper, National Museum of Ireland, Natural History Division, and Mairéad Treanor, Librarian, Met Éireann.


Autumn/Winter lunchtime lecture series, 2012.

Wednesday, 31 October, 1-2 p.m.
Luke Drury, President of Royal Irish Academy: ‘Hamilton: mathematician and romantic’

Wednesday, 7 November, 1-2 p.m.
Nigel Monaghan, Keeper, National Museum of Ireland, Natural History Division: ‘Minerals, museums and Ireland’s industrial revolution in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries’

Wednesday, 14 November, 1-2 p.m.
Elizabethanne Boran, Librarian, Edward Worth Library: ‘Scientific collections of the Edward Worth Library’

Wednesday, 21 November, 1-2 p.m.
Duncan Thorburn Burns, MRIA: ‘Richard Kirwan (1733-1812): chemist, barrister and philosopher: an exemplar of good practice in his time and for today’

Wednesday, 28 November, 1-2 p.m.
Mairéad Treanor, Librarian, Met Éireann: ‘Weather!: meteorology and meteorological collections at the Royal Irish Academy and Met Éireann’.

To listen to audio recordings of this lecture series please click here.

Leabhar na hUidhre


Leabhar na hUidhre (LU) is the oldest manuscript we have that is written entirely in the Irish language. It contains the earliest versions to have been transmitted to us of some of the most celebrated sagas: Táin Bó Cuailnge, Togail Bruidne Da Derga, Fled Bricrenn, Mesca Ulad, Tochmarc Emere and several others, in addition to much material of a historical or religious nature. Included in the latter is Amra Choluim Chille, believed by many to be the oldest text in Irish.

Given LU’s unique position, it is not surprising that many aspects of its content and composition have been the subject of research and discussion. One of the most important studies to be carried out was that of R.I. Best ‘Notes on the script of Lebor na hUidre’, which appeared in Ériu 6 (1912), 161–74. In this paper Best identified three separate hands that were involved in writing the manuscript and his important findings were incorporated in the diplomatic edition of the text that he and O.J. Bergin published in 1929.

In recent years the availability of a digitised version of this edition on the CELT website together with high-quality digital images of the manuscript on that of the Irish Script on Screen (ISOS) initiative has facilitated further study of LU.

This conference was held to mark the centenary of Best’s ground-breaking study of LU and was intended to look afresh not only at the history, content and composition of the manuscript itself, but also to examine the cultural, intellectual and political milieu into which it came into existence.

Speakers included: Liam Breatnach (DIAS) • Elizabeth Boyle (Cambridge) • Abigail Burnyeat (Edinburgh) • John Carey (UCC) • Elizabeth Duncan (Edinburgh) • Máire Herbert (UCC) • Donnchadh Ó Corráin (UCC) • Nollaig Ó Muraíle (NUIG) • Ruairí Ó hUiginn (NUIM) • Gregory Toner (QUB).

Leabhar na hUidhre and some other Irish manuscripts were on display during the conference.

The conference was organised jointly by NUI Maynooth and the Library of the Royal Irish Academy.


A History of Ireland in 100 Objects

Book of Common pragerFintan O’Toole's article about the RIA’s Book of Common Prayer (1551), the first book printed in Ireland (Irish Times, 10 March 2012) Read here




From Cromwell to Cholera: A history of Ireland from the pamphlet collection of Charles Haliday.

From October 2011 to End of june 2012

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With over 35,000 items spanning almost 300 years, the Haliday Pamphlet Collection covers Irish and British social, economic, cultural and religious history, making this one of the largest and richest Irish interest collections of its kind. The exhibition not only highlights the life of an extraordinary Dublin merchant, social reformer, historian and bibliophile, but displays the vast wealth and scope of material available to researchers of Irish and British history at the RIA.

An illustrated booklet accompanies the exhibition and is available at a mere €5 from the Library or to buy online.

lunchtime lecture series, 2012

To find out more about the collection and the role of pamphlets in Irish history come along to our free lunchtime lecture series.

Wednesdays, 1-2pm, Meeting Room, Royal Irish Academy, 19 Dawson Street, Dublin 2.

15 February : The second draft of history: the Haliday pamphlets and Daniel O’Connell.
Kevin Whelan, Keough-Naughton Notre Dame Centre, Dublin.

22 February : One man and his library : Charles Haliday’s pamphlet collection
Sophie Evans, Library, RIA

29 February : Revolution, Rebellion and Union: Ireland in the 1790s
Dáire Keogh, Saint Patrick’s College, DCU

7 March : 'As wild as anything in romance': Robert Emmet and radical responses to the Union, 1800-1803
Patrick Geoghegan, Trinity College Dublin

14 March : Witnessing the rising of 1641 through the Haliday pamphlets
Nicholas Canny, MRIA

21 March : Troubling times – pamphlets of the ‘Troubles’ at the Linen Hall Library, Belfast
John Killen, Librarian, Linen Hall, Belfast

Medieval Irish manuscript treasures of the Royal Irish Academy: EXHIBITION (ends 30 Sept 2011)

Among the major medieval manuscripts on display were :

Leabhar na hUidhre: “Book of the Dun Cow”

Book of Ballymote

Book of the O’Lees : “Book of Hy-Brazil”




“Quills, inks and vellums: practical aspects of manuscript production”
by Tim O’Neill

Thursday 25 August 2011 at 1.00 pm

This is a Heritage Week event.
No booking required.
All welcome.


Mapping Urban Ireland  3 August 2010 - 20 May 2011

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This exhibition explored the cartography of Irish cities and towns since the seventeenth century. It was organised jointly by the Academy Library and the Irish Historic Towns Atlas Project. More details and programme

Our exhibition panels are available as touring exhibitions, please contact the library for more information at

 Culture Night 2010

Culture Night was once again a great success. We welcomed approximately 800 people at the Academy House during the evening. Library staff gave tours through the house and people were free to view our current exhibition ‘Mapping Urban Ireland’. Also on display for the night: the Cathach; old photographs of the Academy House and the Academy Museum c. 1890; photographs from the Praeger Collection, including the construction of the Titanic in Belfast; manuscripts from the Dublin Unitarian Church Collection and the beautifully illuminated Book of Hours, a 16th century manuscript.


Treasures of The Royal Irish Academy, 8 February - 21 May and 8-25 June, 2010

This exhibition draws on some of the most important books and objects in the Academy’s collections More...

William Wilde Seminar, 2010



Click here for programme


‘Darwin, Praeger and the Clare Island Surveys’

Academy House, Meeting Room
2 July - 23 December 2009, 4 - 22 January 2010 

Darwin, an honorary Member of the Royal Irish Academy, inspired Robert Lloyd Praeger, MRIA, 1865-1953, probably the most productive and influential Irish naturalist, to organise and conduct the groundbreaking Clare Island Survey (1909-11), which in turn inspired the New Survey of Clare Island, a current RIA project which re-examines the results of the original survey. The Clare Island survey was considered unique and extraordinary as it was the first intensive survey of a small part of Europe, as opposed to earlier surveying expeditions by Darwin to places like the Galapagos Islands.

The exhibition was accompanied by a series of free lunchtime lectures and associated events.  Download programme

Listen to President McAleese’s speech on the significance of the Clare Island surveys and the Royal Irish Academy’s work on Clare Island.

Download soundfile.mp3 to your computer


‘My gentle harp: Moore’s ‘Irish melodies’, 1808-2008


  • ‘My gentle harp: Moore’s ‘Irish melodies’, 1808-2008.
      PRESS RELEASE: Moore's Irish Melodies - At Carnegie Hall’s Weill Recital Hall, New York - Download




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