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Heritage Council funding received for RIA Library project ‘The Birds of Ireland’.

03 April 2024

The RIA Library is delighted to announce that we have received funding from the Heritage Council as part of the Heritage Stewardship Fund for our project ‘The Birds of Ireland: Curating the Richard J. Ussher Collection at the Royal Irish Academy’.  

This project will enable the long-term preservation, access, and discovery of material from the Ussher Bird Notes Collection through a programme of archival cataloguing, digitisation and outreach. 

Richard John Ussher, MRIA, (1841-1913) was a speleologist, ornithologist and the main author of Ussher & Warren, The Birds of Ireland, printed in Dublin and London in 1900. He was elected a member of the Royal Irish Academy in 1906 and later bequeathed his books, papers and correspondence on natural history, cave exploration, and antiquities to the RIA Library. Read more about the collection here.

Academy Librarian, Barbara McCormack said: 

“We are delighted to receive funding from the Heritage Council to support the long-term preservation and accessibility of this rich cultural heritage resource. In collaboration with other ornithologists, Ussher composed a seminal body of work that was of great significance to the natural history and science community. His bird notes did not only serve as an important aid for identification, but also provided the groundwork to track migration patterns and dwindling populations of certain breeds. This project will enable the arrangement and cataloguing of over 7,000 items in a variety of formats, and the phased digitisation of material for inclusion in the Digital Repository of Ireland.”  

Digital Repository of Ireland Director, Lisa Griffith said: 

‘We are delighted to work with the RIA Library to help them digitally preserve the Usher Bird Notes Collection thanks to funding from The Heritage Council. This collection will join a growing number of natural history collections that DRI preserves, ensuring that Irish researchers, ornithologists and the general public will have long term access to these digital collections.’ 

The RIA Library is planning a number of activities around the Ussher Bird Notes Collection in 2024 including a public lecture and display during National Heritage Week. Please keep an eye on our website and social media platforms for more information.  

Fan ar an eolas le nuachtlitir Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann

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