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The Royal Irish Academy’s holdings of pre-1800 publications include many books and pamphlets of Irish interest, published in a variety of languages, though predominantly in English. The collection includes numerous rare Dublin printings, along with a selection of items from provincial Irish presses. The collections are an invaluable source for the study of intellectual life and print culture in Ireland from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. A significant proportion of the early printed books and pamphlets in the Academy Library were obtained by donation or bequest, the largest single collection being that of Charles Haliday, MRIA, 1789-1866. Books in the Irish language printed on continental Europe in the seventeenth century are also held, some of these were formerly owned by Osborn Bergin, MRIA, 1873-1950.


The Library’s online catalogue of books and pamphlets of these holdings is supplemented by a range of other catalogues available for consultation in the Reading Room. A card catalogue contains some records not yet transferred to the online catalogue, while the original catalogue of the Haliday pamphlet collection consists of bound manuscript volumes listing the pamphlets in date order.
The Academy library participates in international collaborative bibliographical projects and catalogue records for the Royal Irish Academy’s pre-1700 holdings of books and pamphlets can be accessed on the English Short Title Catalogue (ESTC). An online version of this international union catalogue is freely available through the British Library.

Select Bibliography

E.R. McClintock Dix, Catalogue of early Dublin-printed books, 1601-1700. Dublin, 1898-1912, 4 vols and supplement (title changes, vol ii, A list of books, tracts etc printed in Dublin from 1601-1700).

Raymond Gillespie, Reading Ireland, print, reading and social change in early modern Ireland (Manchester, 2005).

Raymond Gillespie and Andrew Hadfield (eds), The Oxford history of the Irish book, vol. 3: the Irish book in English, 1550-1800 (Oxford, 2006).

Margaret Kelleher and Philip O’Leary (eds), The Cambridge history of Irish literature (2 vols. Cambridge, 2006).

M. Pollard, Dublin’s trade in books, 1550-1800 (Oxford, 1989).

Richard Sharpe and Mícheál Hoyne, Clóliosta: printing in the Irish language, 1571-1871. An attempt at narrative bibliography (Dublin: Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies, 2020).

Tony Sweeney, Ireland and the printed word: a short descriptive catalogue of early books, … relating to Ireland, printed 1475-1700 (Dublin, 1997).