The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest Academic honour in Ireland.

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About the Dictionary of Irish Biography

The Dictionary of Irish Biography (DIB) is Ireland’s national biographical dictionary. It is devised, researched, written and edited under the auspices of the Royal Irish Academy and published in print and online by Cambridge University Press. Its online edition now covers nearly 11,000 lives. 

An indispensable work of reference for scholars, journalists, broadcasters, genealogists, diplomats, and the general reader interested in Ireland’s past or in biography, the DIB is an educational resource of huge potential.

The DIB outlines the lives at home and overseas of prominent men and women born in Ireland, north and south, and the noteworthy Irish careers of those born outside Ireland. Biographies range in length from 200 words to 15,000. 

The chronological scope of the DIB extends from the earliest times to the twenty-first century. Biographical subjects include artists, scientists, lawyers, actors, musicians, writers in Irish and English, politicians, sporting figures, criminals and saints. The living are not included.

The Dictionary of Irish Biography: from the earliest times to the year 2002, edited by James McGuire and James Quinn, was published November 2009 by Cambridge University Press in nine volumes and online. Volumes X and XI of the DIB, comprising those who died 2003–2010, were subsequently published in 2018. These hard copy volumes feature over 9,600 lives compiled by 750 expert advisors and contributors.

Twice yearly updates of new articles are added to the DIB online in June and December every year. Revisions and corrections are also undertaken biannually.

Find out how to purchase the hard copy volumes or access the Dictionary online

Praise for the Dictionary of Irish Biography

‘Publication of the RIA’s Dictionary of Irish Biography is an epoch-making event in the history of Irish scholarship. It changes the state of knowledge in the twenty-first century as decidedly as the Ordnance Survey did in the nineteenth’ - Seamus Heaney (read Heaney's address at the launch of the DIB in Belfast in 2009)

For too long the study of Irish history has been hampered by the lack of a comprehensive Irish biographical dictionary. Now, happily, there is one that is authoritative, original and – I'm delighted to say – entertaining too.' - Edward McParland, architectural historian

The Royal Irish Academy’s Dictionary of Irish Biography sets a standard and will be appreciated for its thoroughness and accessibility as a major reference resource. It provides comprehensive and authoritative biographical essays for Irish born subjects or those with significant careers in Ireland in a clear and accessible format. The Dictionary of Irish Biography incorporates the research of previous such efforts and presents signed entries enlivened with detail and quotations that offer intriguing reading as well as reference for further research. In Ireland and beyond, libraries, local history societies, museums, genealogical collections, and scholars will want it on their shelves’.
Lois More Overbeck, Emory University, Editor, The Letters of Samuel Beckett

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