Collections of Distinction

Irish History and Culture

Location: Rare Books Department


Theatrical program for 'The Far-off Hills' Boston Public Library’s collection of more than 50,000 published materials relating to Ireland is complemented by primary resources covering Irish history, law, politics, theater, literature, and the arts, much of it written and published from 1615 through the 20th century.

The earliest coverage is found in the special collection Irish Legal History, containing nearly 1,000 items dating from 1615–1880. This collection includes statutes of the Irish Parliament, reports of trials, and legal proceedings, practitioner’s books, rare Irish editions of classic legal texts, and pamphlets on a variety of legal and constitutional controversies.

Other important materials are the more than 7,500 books, pamphlets, periodicals, newspapers, broadsides, photographs, and prints focused on political movements from 1775 to the early 20th century. The “Triangle” Collection consists of about 400 Irish pamphlets covering Irish history, politics, songs, plays, and works in Irish from 1797–1970. The 1798 Collection consists of both primary and secondary resource material spanning a twenty-eight year period of Irish history from 1775–1803, concentrating on the Rebellion of 1798. The Ireland: Union to Free State Collection of 19th- and early 20th-century Irish material consists of more than 3,000 pamphlets, posters, photographs, and scrapbooks, plus several thousand press clippings that relate to the creation of the Irish Free State in 1922, including Home Rule, the Easter Rebellion, and the Irish volunteers. The Northern Ireland Collection provides a comprehensive picture of the various parties and organizations across the political spectrum that were active in Northern Ireland during the 1960s–1980s.

The Seamus Heaney Collection contains more than 500 items related to the Nobel Laureate’s work in books, limited editions, pamphlets, journal articles, critical writing reviews, and ephemera.

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