Irish History in the Institute of Historical Research Library

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The Irish collection remains one of the library’s most used, and includes materials on Ireland’s history from the early medieval period to the present day. The strengths of the collection include an extensive bibliographic sub-collection, including archive guides, bibliographies and manuscript catalogues, an array of biographical reference works, holdings of published sources concerning Ireland’s political and administrative history, especially from the twelfth to the early nineteenth century, published religious sources of the medieval and early modern periods and a growing collection of works on Irish local history.


Locations and Arrangement of the Collection

Most of the collection can be found on the first floor, in the Wohl Library reading room, sitting alongside other collections of the British Isles found within the library, although Irish folio material can be found in the Foyle Reading room, also on the first floor. Back runs of Irish journals are kept in closed stacks, so need to be requested in advance (details about requesting material can be found here) as do theses and early printed material (published before c. 1750). However the more recent editions of Irish Economic and Social History and Irish Historical Studies can be found on open access in the IHR Friends Current Periodicals Room on the ground floor.

Like the other collections in the library, the Irish collection has its own classification scheme. In the main sequence of the collection the call number will begin with BI followed by a number and three letters (e.g. BI.9/Arc which is the class mark for the journal Archivum Hibernicum) while folio material will begin with BII and early printed works begin with an S (e.g. S/BI etc.) Below is a summary of the classification scheme:

  • BI.0     Bibliography, auxiliary subjects, general reference works and historiography
  • BI.1     Biographical Dictionaries and Lists
  • BI.2     General Works
  • BI.4     Ireland to c. 1540
  • BI.5     Ireland 1540-1801
  • BI.6     Ireland 1801-1921
  • BI.7     Ireland since 1921
  • BI.8     Irish Local History
  • BI.9     Irish History Periodicals


Collection Highlights



Archive Guides, Manuscript Catalogues and Bibliographies

Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in the Royal Irish Academy

Connolly, Philomena Medieval record sources

Connolly, S. L. The public record : sources for local studies in the Public Record Office of Ireland

Cornish, Patrick J. Records of the Irish Catholic Church

Davis, Bill Irish family history research

Deutsch, Richard Northern Ireland 1921-1974 : a select bibliography

Edward, R. Dudley Sources for early modern Irish history, 1534-1641

Grenham, John Tracing your Irish ancestors : the complete guide

Helferty, Seamus & Refaussé, Raymond Directory of Irish Archives

Lindsay, Deirdre Records of the Irish Famine : a guide to local archives, 1840-1855

Maltby, Arthur Ireland in the nineteenth century : a breviate of official publications

Ni Shéaghadha, Nessa Catalogue of Irish manuscripts in the National Library of Ireland

O’Neill, Robert Irish Libraries, Archives, Museums and Genealogical Centres

Raymond, Stuart Irish family history on the web : a directory

Simm, Katharine Medieval Gaelic Sources



Reference Works, Auxiliary Subjects & Historiography

Andrews, J. H…et al. (eds.) Irish historic towns atlas

Bort, Eberhard Commemorating Ireland : history, politics, culture

Boyce, D. George & O’Day, Alan The making of modern Irish history : revisionism and the revisionist controversy

Burke’s Irish family records

Crowley, John…et al. (eds.) Atlas of the great Irish famine, 1845-52

Duffy, Seán Medieval Ireland : an encyclopedia

Evans, Nicholas The present and the past in medieval Irish chronicles

Gibney, John The shadow of a year : the 1641 rebellion in Irish history and memory

Gillespie, Raymond & Hill, Mytle (eds.) Doing Irish local history : pursuit and practice

Heartfield, James Who’s afraid of the Easter Rising? 1916-2016

Kennedy, Michael & McMahon, Deidre Reconstructing Ireland’s past : a history of the Irish Manuscripts Commission

Ó Crónin, Dáibhí Early Irish history and chronology

Ó Riain, Pádraig…et al. (eds.) Historical dictionary of Gaelic place names



Biographical Reference Works

Herlihy, Jim. Royal Irish Constabulary officers : a biographical dictionary and genealogical guide, 1816-1922

Johnston-Liik, Edith. History of the Irish parliament, 1692-1800 : Commons, constituencies and statutes

Lodge, John. The peerage of Ireland : or, a genealogical history of the present nobility of that kingdom

McGuire, James & Quinn, James (eds.) Dictionary of Irish biography : from the earliest times to the year 2002

Munter, Robert. A dictionary of the print trade in Ireland, 1550-1775

Newmann, Kate. Dictionary of Ulster biography

Pine, L. G. (ed.) Burke’s genealogical and heraldic history of the landed gentry of Ireland



Ireland to c. 1540

Ancient laws of Ireland

Clyn, John. The annals of Ireland

Connolly, Philomena. Irish exchequer payments 1270-1446

Fitzmaurice, E. B. (ed.) Materials for the history of the Franciscan province of Ireland, A.D. 1230-1450

Gerald of Wales. Expugnatio Hibernica

Gilbert, John Thomas. Historic and municipal documents of Ireland, A.D. 1172-1320 from the archives of the city of Dublin, etc.

Hennessy, William M. The annals of Loch Cé : a chronicle of Irish affairs from A.D. 1014 to A.D. 1590

Kelly, Fergus. Marriage disputes : a fragmentary Old Irish law-text

Mac Airt, Seán & Mac Niocaill, Gearóid (eds.) The annals of Ulster

Ní Úrdail, Meidhbhín (ed.) Cath Cluana Tarbh

St. Patrick. Liber epistolarum sancti Patricii episcopi

Plummer, Charles. Vitae sanctorum Hiberniae partim hactenus ineditae

Sayles, G. O. (ed.) Documents on the affairs of Ireland before the King’s Council

Sweetman, H. S. (ed.) Calendar of documents relating to Ireland : preserved in Her Majesty’s Public Record Office, London




Early Modern Ireland c. 1540-1801

Blacker, William. The formation of the Orange Order, 1795-1798 : the edited papers of Colonel William Blacker and Colonel Robert H. Wallace

Calendar of State Papers, Ireland, Tudor period (1547-1553), (1566-1567) & (1568-1571)

Clarke, Aidan (ed.) The 1641 depositions

Dickinson, Harry T. (ed.) Ireland in the age of revolution, 1760-1805

Edwards, David. Campaign journals of the Elizabethan Irish wars

Hyde, Edward. The history of the rebellion and civil wars in Ireland

The journals of the House of Commons of Ireland 1613-1776

Kelly, James (ed.) Proceedings of the Irish House of Lords, 1771-1800

Kelly, James & Lyons, Mary Ann (eds.) The proclamations of Ireland : 1660-1820

McNeill, Charles (ed.) The Tanner letters : original documents and notices of Irish affairs in the sixteenth and seventeenth centuries

Mulloy, Sheila (ed.) Franco-Irish correspondence, December 1688-February 1692

Ó Cianáin, Tadhg, Turas na dTaoiseach nUltach as Éirinn

Records of the General Synod of Ulster from 1691 to 1820

Shirley, Evelyn Philip. Original letters and papers in illustration of the history of the church in Ireland during the reigns of Edward VI, Mary, and Elizabeth

Tone, Theobald Wolfe. The writings of Theobald Wolfe Tone, 1763-98

White, Newport B. Extents of Irish monastic possessions, 1540-1541 : from manuscripts in the Public Record Office, London

Young, Arthur. Arthur Young’s tour in Ireland (1776-1779)




Ireland 1801-1921

Childers, Erskine. The framework of home rule

Connolly, James. Selected writings

Hill, Arthur Blundell Sandys Trumbull. Letters of a great Irish landlord : a selection from the estate correspondence of the third Marquis of Downshire, 1809-45

Fannin, Alfred. Letters from Dublin, Easter 1916 : Alfred Fannin’s diary of the rising

Gonne, Maud. Maud Gonne’s Irish nationalist writings, 1895-1946

Killen, John (ed.) The famine decade : contemporary accounts, 1841-1851

Luddy, Maria. Women in Ireland, 1800-1918 : a documentary history

Masterson, Josephine. Ireland : 1841/1851 census abstracts (Republic of Ireland) & (Northern Ireland)

Miontuairisc an chead Dala, 1919-1921 = Minutes of proceedings of the first parliament of the Republic of Ireland 1919-1921

Mitchell, Arthur & Ó Snodaigh, Pádraig (eds.) Irish political documents : 1869-1916

O’Connell, Daniel. The correspondence of Daniel O’Connell

Parnell, Charles Stewart. Words of the dead chief : being extracts from the public speeches and other pronouncements of Charles Stewart Parnell

Ryan, Annie. Witnesses : inside the Easter Rising

Scully, Denys. The Catholic question in Ireland and England, 1798-1822 : the papers of Denys Scully

Somerville, Alexander. Letters from Ireland during the famine of 1847



Ireland since 1921

American Commission on Irish Independence. The American Commission on Irish Independence, 1919 : the diary, correspondence, and report

Collins, Michael. In great haste : the letters of Michael Collins and Kitty Kiernan

Douglas, James G. The memoirs of Senator James G. Douglas (1887-1953)

Elliott, Sydney. Northern Ireland : a political directory, 1968-1999

Macstiofáin, Seán. Memoirs of a revolutionary

McQuaid, John Charles. His Grace is displeased : the select correspondence of John Charles McQuaid

Mitchell, Arthur & Ó Snodaigh, Pádraig. Irish political documents : 1916-1949

O’Malley, Ernie. Prisoners : the civil war letters of Ernie O’Malley

Robinson, Mary. Everybody matters : a memoir

Walker, Brian Mercer. Parliamentary election results in Ireland, 1918-92

Wharton, Ken. A long long war : voices from the British Army in Northern Ireland, 1969-98

Wiles, James L. Aspirations and realities : a documentary history of economic development policy in Ireland since 1922



Irish Local History

Brooks, Eric St. John. Knights’ fees in counties Wexford, Carlow and Kilkenny, 13th-15th century

Byrne, Niall J. (ed.) The great parchment book of Waterford

Collins, Peter. Pathways to Ulster’s past : sources and resources for local studies

Connolly, Philomena & Martin, Geoffrey (eds.) The Dublin guild merchant roll, c. 1190-1265

Fraser, Robert. General view of the agriculture and mineralogy, present state and circumstances of County Wicklow

Gilbert, John T. Calendar of ancient records of Dublin in the possession of the municipal corporation of that city

Hare, Richard. The letterbook of Richard Hare, merchant of Cork, 1771-1772

Hunter, R. J. (ed.) The Ulster port books 1612-15

Kearns, Kevin Corrigan. Dublin tenement life : an oral history

MacCaffrey, James (ed.) The black book of Limerick

McNeill, Charles (ed.) Kilkenny city records : Liber primus Kilkenniensis : the earliest books of the Corporation of Kilkenny now extant

Mitchell, Brian (comp.) Defenders of the plantation of Ulster, 1641-1691 : muster roll of the garrison of Londonderry during the Rebellion of 1642-1643 ; defenders of Ireland during the Williamite War of 1689-1691

Saurin, James. Preaching in Belfast, 1747-54 : a selection of the sermons of James Saurin

Scott, Thomas Colville. Connemara after the famine : journal of a survey of the Martin Estate

Sweetnam, Mark S. (ed.) The minutes of the Antrim ministers’ meetings, 1654-8




Archivium Hibernicum

The Irish Genealogist

Irish Historical Studies

Journal of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland

Studia Hibernica


Other Resources



The library holds a number of MA and PhD theses completed from the 1930s to the early 2000s by students at the colleges of the University of London. Titles of particular relevance to Irish history include:

Ball, Stephen Andrew Policing the land war : the development of British government policy towards political and agrarian protest and crime in Ireland, 1879-1892

Pawlisch, Hans Sir John Davies' "Law Reports" and the consolidation of the Tudor conquest of Ireland

Quinn, David Beers Tudor rule in Ireland in the reigns of Henry VII and Henry VIII with special reference to Anglo-Irish financial information

Scott, H. The medieval Irish parliament

White, Martin. The greenshirts : fascism in the Irish free state, 1935-45


Electronic Resources

A range of e-resources can be accessed from the PCs within the library, including JSTOR, the Time Digital Archive and the Bibliography of British and Irish History (see here for a full list). One can also consult the growing digital library, British History Online.


Other Useful Collections within the Library

Additional material relating to the history of Ireland can be found in many of the other collections held within the library. As mentioned above, the collection is in the same reading room as the majority of the Institute’s British collections, while on the second floor one will find the library’s collections of North American history (Colonial North America & the USA and Canada). Finally in the basement one can find the library collections on military history and international relations.


Other Relevant Libraries and Archives

In London the British Library has an extensive collection, both of medieval Irish manuscripts and modern material. The London Irish Centre Library holds Irish history titles of all periods, with particular emphasis on the 1916 Rising, War of Independence and the Civil War.

The library of Queen’s University, Belfast and the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland have vast collections on many aspects of Ireland’s history, especially, unsurprisingly, the history of Ulster. And for anyone engaged in research in the Republic of Ireland, the National Archives of Ireland, National Library of Ireland, and the libraries of Trinity College, Dublin and the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland are crucial.


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