DIB - Online



Twice a year, in June and December, we update the Dictionary of Irish Biography Online ( by adding to the 2009 edition a raft of new entries covering those who have died since 2002, as well as subjects from across the centuries who did not feature in the 2009 edition.

"This is an essential reference work for the study of Ireland. The database is affordable for all types of libraries and offers just the right complement of bells and whistles. Although the well-known biographies are available from any number of biographical resources, for serious studies of Ireland the breadth of content here is invaluable and will attract scholars, journalists, teachers, and general readers alike." Library Journal, 15 April 2012 (link)

In the twelve months from 1 February 2011 there were 52,369 visits to the Dictionary of Irish Biography Online from 105 countries

The December 2011 collection of new DIB lives covers a wide range of occupations and interests, including sport, broadcasting, politics, literature, medicine, theatre and business. It includes novelist and short-story writer John McGahern; controversial memoirist and travel writer Robert Harbinson Bryans; composer James Wilson; Lyric Theatre founders Mary O’Malley and Pearse O’Malley; cardiologist Jeremy Swan, who co-developed what became known as the Swan–Ganz pulmonary artery catheter; and surgeon and hypnotist Jack Gibson. Politics of one sort or another are to be found in the entries for socialist, political activist, teacher and maritime historian John de Courcy Ireland; government minister Michael O’Leary; lifelong communist and Spanish civil war veteran Michael O’Riordan; and politician and businessman Ruairí Brugha, who devoted much of his life to the promotion of North–South understanding. Northern Ireland during the troubles features in three entries: Denis Faul, priest, educationist, and human-rights campaigner; and two British politicians, secretary of state Merlyn Rees, and minister of state at the Northern Ireland office Stan Orme (both of them in office during the Ulster Workers’ strike that brought down the Sunningdale agreement). Business interspersed with politics features in the lives of five members and three generations of the remarkable Gallagher family, originally from Tyrone, whose business empire in Dublin was primarily, though not exclusively, associated with Urney chocolates. Lives associated with sport are Kevin O’Flanagan, athlete, rugby and soccer international; Bob Lambert, cricketer; and his son Ham Lambert, cricketer, rugby international and referee, both of them veterinary surgeons, as was Bob’s father Thomas Drummond Lambert – all three of them are covered extensively in the same article. Broadcasting lives include two controllers of BBC Northern Ireland during the troubles: Waldo Maguire (1966–72) and James (Jimmy) Hawthorne (1978–87); as well as Radio Éireann announcer Kathleen Dolan; and UTV and BBC presenter Anne Gregg. Lives in academia are political scientist Cornelius O’Leary; and psychologist Feighin O’Doherty. For a full list of lives added in December 2011, as well as the 116 new lives added in 2010 and June 2011, go to

The June 2011 biographies cover a rich diversity of lives and talents, including the Yeats scholar Norman Jeffares, Eoin McKiernan, pioneer and doyen of Irish Studies in America, and showjumper Paul Darragh. The performing arts are represented by Dave Allen, comedian, Maureen Potter, perhaps the most popular entertainer of twentieth-century Ireland, Dan O’Herlihy, film and stage actor, Geraldine Fitzgerald, who gave up a promising Hollywood career for the theatre, refusing the part of Melanie Hamilton (played by Olivia de Havilland) in Gone with the wind, and Margaret Kelly, dancer, choreographer, and impresario, who founded the Bluebell Girls troupe at the Folies Bergère in Paris. Sports personalities include Seán Purcell, arguably one of the greatest of all Gaelic footballers, Tommy Eglington, who scored 76 league goals with Everton 1946–57, and was capped 24 times for the Republic of Ireland and in 6 matches for Northern Ireland, and Seamus McGrath, racehorse trainer, credited with 1,350 race wins (including six Irish classics). As usual politics is well covered, with entries for Gerry Fitt, Belfast republican socialist and SDLP founder, Earnest Baird, Vanguard Unionist politician who was prominent in the 1974 loyalist strike that brought down the power-sharing executive and the Sunningdale agreement, Eileen Desmond, only the second woman to achieve cabinet rank in Dublin since 1922, Seán Doherty, minister for justice under Charles Haughey whose revelations ultimately forced Haughey’s in 1992, and Mo Mowlam, secretary of state for Northern Ireland, whose public perception in Britain was as the government minister with the outrageous personality who effectively delivered peace. Other subjects in this latest collection of new biographies include Brum Henderson the pioneer of ITV in Northern Ireland and UTV supremo, and Gordon Lambert, businessman and philanthropist, who donated his major collection to the Irish Museum of Modern Art. For a full list of the June 2011 entries, as well as the 78 lives added in 2010, go to

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