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Entomological library of Alexander Henry Haliday, MRIA (1806–1870)

A.H. (Alexander Henry) Haliday, MRIA, was a leading Irish entomologist with a network of scientific contacts throughout Europe. He compiled a manuscript catalogue of Irish insects, regarded as a pioneering work, and in the early twenty-first century it was not yet superseded as a checklist of Irish insect fauna. That entomological manuscript is held in the National Museum of Ireland along with his insect collection.

A.H. Haliday spent the last ten years of his life in Italy. It was while there that he assembled much of his extensive entomological library including many rare printed books. The collection was an international one and contained many items in Latin, French, German and Italian. It has been described by J. P. O’Connor as ‘the finest collection of early entomological books (1634-1864) and reprints in Ireland’ (O’Connor, 2009, 107).

After Haliday’s death his friend Edward Percival Wright arranged for the books to be returned to Ireland. The collection was presented to the Royal Irish Academy in March 1871 and incorporated into the main library collections rather than being held separately. They are catalogued on the library’s main online catalogue.

The Academy library also holds a manuscript list of the A.H. Haliday book bequest. The list is arranged A-Z by title and extends to 112 leaves (shelf-mark SR/18/1/B).

Alexander Henry Haliday’s unpublished manuscripts and most of his insect collection were donated after his death to the Irish Museum of Natural History (National Museum of Ireland). Further parts of the insect collection are in museums overseas.


Further reading

  • Cathy Hayes, ‘Haliday, Alexander Henry’, in Royal Irish Academy, Dictionary of Irish Biography  Haliday, Alexander Henry | Dictionary of Irish Biography (
  • J. N. Halbert, ‘The Haliday collection’, National Museum of Science and Art, Dublin, Bulletin, iii, pts 3–4 (1913), 27–8
  • James P. O’Connor, ‘Natural history collections’, in Bernadette Cunningham & Siobhán Fitzpatrick (eds), Treasures of the Royal Irish Academy Library (Dublin, 2009), 105–16
  • James P. O'Connor, ‘Insects and entomology’, Nature in Ireland (1997), 226–7
  • E. Perceval Wright, ‘Naturalists of Ireland, I – Alexander Henry Haliday’, Irish Naturalist, xi (1902), 197–9


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