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The Library of Thomas Moore, Hon. MRIA, 1779-1852

The private library of Thomas Moore, ‘the Bard of Erin,’ is a fine collection of classical literature and historical, literary and philosophical works.

The poet Thomas Moore was born in 1779. For much of his career as a poet he lived in London, but he also travelled widely, spending time in Bermuda and living as an exile in Paris, as well as visiting the United States, Canada and Italy. He spent the last thirty years of his life at Sloperton Cottage, Wiltshire. His most influential published work was his Irish melodies, published in parts between 1808 and 1837, which made him a national figure in Ireland and brought him huge international recognition. Among his more successful poetic publications, first published in 1813, was Intercepted letters; 0r, The Twopenny post-bag. Lalla Rookh, an oriental romance published in 1817, consolidated Moore’s literary reputation. Admired for his skills as a biographer, Moore was an early biographer of Brinsley Sheridan, Lord Byron, and Lord Edward Fitzgerald. Towards the end of his life he wrote a History of Ireland, a strongly partisan nationalist work, much criticised by his contemporaries for its lack of attention to primary sources. It was published in four volumes between 1835 and 1846. Thomas Moore was elected an honorary member of the Royal Irish Academy in 1846. He died in 1852.

After his death, Moore’s widow, Elizabeth Dyke, 1796-1865, presented c. 1,200 of the books from his library to the Royal Irish Academy. It is a typical gentleman scholar’s library of the early nineteenth century, and includes classical titles and travel literature. Some 260 of the books are in French, and over 100 each in Latin and Italian. The collection includes some material of Irish interest, both political and historical, although the only books in Irish among Moore’s collection are titles that also contained an English translation. The collection has been retained virtually intact in the Council Room of the Academy, a room known also as the Moore Library. A bust of Thomas Moore (1838), by Thomas Kirk, RHA, sits on the mantelpiece of the room, and a portrait of Moore, which is a copy of a portrait by Sir Martin Archer Shee in the National Gallery, Dublin, hangs opposite the fireplace.

The collection is catalogued on the Main Catalogue.

Select Bibliography

Wilfred S. Dowden (ed.), The letters of Thomas Moore … (2 vols, Oxford, 1964).

Siobhán Fitzpatrick, ‘The library of Thomas Moore: Ireland’s national poet’ in Bernadette Cunningham and Siobhán Fitzpatrick (eds), Treasures of the Royal Irish Academy library (Dublin, 2009), 221-7.

Siobhán Fitzpatrick (ed.), My gentle harp: Moore’s Irish melodies, 1808-2008 (Dublin, 2008). This publication includes assessments of Moore’s influence and musical legacy and essays on John Egan’s Royal portable harps and on the Christopher Moore statue of Thomas Moore in College Street, Dublin. A bibliography of Moore’s writings and a select bibliography of Moore biographies occur on pp 34-5.

Ronan Kelly, Bard of Erin: the life of Thomas Moore (Dublin, 2008).

Harry White, The Keeper’s recital: music and cultural history in Ireland 1770-1970. Field Day Essays and Mongraphs, 6 (Cork, 1998).

Harry White, MRIA, ‘Moore, Thomas’ in James McGuire and James Quinn (eds), The Dictionary of Irish biography (9 vols, Cambridge, CUP, 2009), vol. 6, 659-63.

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