University of Notre Dame


Hesburgh Libraries

Rare Books & Special Collections

Irish Studies Collections

The Gael / An Gaodhal.
New York, February 1902.
(O'Neill Collection)

The Irish Studies collections are primarily print collections ranging from rare books and pamphlets from the seventeenth century to novels, theatre programs and Irish language plays of the twentieth century. Students of Irish history, literature and music will find the collection particularly valuable, as it offers an opportunity to study many rare and historic documents at first hand.

Treasures of the collection include a copy of John Locke's treatises, which belonged to, and was heavily annotated by, Robert Emmet; early editions of Bedell's Bible; two music manuscripts that belonged to Francis O'Neill, and some rare maps of Ireland.

Among the historic collections, the Early Irish Print Collection's particular strength is in the intellectual and religious history of the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. Catholic writings of the period are well represented and include writings of the Irish diaspora. A collection of Irish Maps and Sea Charts includes maps from as early as 1567. Special collections of George Berkeley and Edmund Burke were acquired in the 1990s. A wide-ranging collection on Jonathan Swift includes two significant collections supplemented by many acquisitions over a long period. Special areas of focus in other historical collections include the 1798 Rising and the Literary Revival.

Literature is concentrated mainly around the Irish Fiction Collection. This is founded on the Loeber Collection of Irish Fiction, which was acquired in 2003 through the generosity of Michael Smurfit. A collection on Irish Theatre includes an Abbey Theatre Collection, and the Irish Poetry Collection is an excellent print collection of a select number of poets. The James Clarence Mangan Collection is a wide-ranging collection, purchased in 1997; another author who may be claimed for Irish Studies is Lafcadio Hearn, whose books form a large and attractive collection.

The Irish Language is an important focus for Irish Studies at the University of Notre Dame, and this is reflected in the collection which ranges from the earliest books printed in Irish to contemporary novels and poetry.

The Francis O'Neill Collection, given to the University by Captain O'Neill in 1931, is the personal library of one of the most important collectors of Irish music. O'Neill's library, however, includes not only music literature but also an important collection of Irish and Irish American history and literature. The Hesburgh Libraries' Irish Music, Song and Dance Collections includes the collection donated by Notre Dame Alumnus Larry Lynch as well as an Irish Broadside Collection which has been digitized for viewing online.

Among the many fine printings is the Cuala Press Collection, which includes books, broadsides and greeting cards published by Cuala Press. Though printed books form the main focus of the Irish Collections, it is complemented by a collection of manuscripts and ephemera, of which the most significant are listed in the appropriate collection or subject description. For a complete list of manuscripts, see the bibliography below.

Related Online Resources