About the Royal Irish Academy Library
Welcome to the Royal Irish Academy Library, one of Ireland’s premier research libraries. The Library manages major manuscript, book, pamphlet and drawings collections. We offer comprehensive access and outreach programmes, facilitate master classes and visits, hold exhibitions and lecture series and publish on the collections. Content is added to our web pages on a regular basis and we invite your comments and enquiries.
The Academy Library is an important research centre for the study of Irish history, language, archaeology and the history of Irish science. Home to the Cathach, the sixth-century Latin psalter reputed to have been copied by St Colum Cille (Columba), our repository houses the largest collection of Irish language manuscripts in the world, including Lebor na hUidre (the Book of the Dun Cow), the oldest extant manuscript completely in Irish. We are longterm partners in the Irish Script on Screen project whereby Irish manuscripts are digitised and are freely accessible for research and scholarly purposes. As of February 2019, 97 of the earliest Academy mss are available on www.isos.dias.ie
The Library holds significant manuscript resources in English and Latin for the study of Irish history, society and politics: examples include the seventeenth-century Books of Survey & Distribution, the deeds of the Guild of St Anne (thirteenth to seventeenth-century), the Haliday manuscript collection, and numerous sets of correspondence and papers ─ the Charlemont, Caldwell, Dublin Unitarian Church archives and the recently acquired W.T. Cosgrave Papers are some examples.
Manuscript holdings also feature important natural history collections, such as the correspondence of AG. More, 1830-95, which contains letters from Charles Darwin among others. Descriptions of these collections are being added incrementally to the Special Collections section of the Academy website.
The Library has excellent collections of antiquarian books and periodicals. We curate the library of Thomas Moore, Hon. MRIA,1799-1852, the philological collection of Osborn J. Bergin, MRIA, 1873-1950, the collections of Henry A.S. Upton, MRIA, d. 1917, the pamphlet and tract collections of Charles Haliday, MRIA, 1789-1866, which covers a broad range of social, economic and political history and events in Ireland from the 17th to the mid-19th centuries. These collections and other pre-1850 collections have been catalogued online with generous funding from Atlantic Philanthropies. The Library also holds extensive collections of antiquarian drawings (mainly relating to sites of archaeological importance) and photographs (relating to monuments, natural history research and to the Academy’s own story).
The Library welcomes postgraduate and other researchers and participates in the ALCID scheme (Academic Libraries Co-operating in Ireland) and we are institutional members of CONUL (The Consortium of National and University Libraries). Significant resources are deployed on the preservation and conservation of manuscripts, books and other collections, and, increasingly, on the purchase of electronic resources for our users. Donations for the continuance of these activities are always welcome.
We engage in national initiatives, in institutional partnerships, in online publishing and in the facilitation of knowledge transfer. We facilitate master classes using the Library’s collections, as well as devising lecture programmes and curating exhibitions. Library visits are an integral part of the Library mission. Our Treasures of the RIA library (2009) contains 24 essays focussing on the history of the most significant collections.
Read our Collection Policy Statement here