Special Collections & Archives
Our printed or published collections contain a wide array of early printed and rare books and pamphlets as well as donated personal and institutional libraries. We have particularly strong holdings in education, history, literature, theology and religions.
We regret that these collections cannot be consulted at present due to Covid-19 restrictions.
Collection Dates: [c1940-c2010]
Extent: 4,500 books and pamphlets
Robert (Bob) McDonagh was an Irish diplomat and Secretary General at Ireland's Department of Foreign Affairs, 1949-1989, and Ambassador of Ireland to the Federal Republic of Germany, Italy and the United Nations. During his 40-year career in Foreign Affairs, he was at various times head of the Anglo-Irish section, the overseas aid programme and of economic and cultural affairs.
McDonagh’s personal library was donated to DCU in 2018. It contains over 4,500 books and pamphlets that predominantly reflect his lifelong engagement with International relations, history and political science. Particular focus is given to U.S. foreign policy, the Cold War and diplomatic efforts made by the United Nations around the world. The library is a valuable resource for researchers studying the historiography of international relations and diplomacy in the twentieth century with particular relevance to international conflict and conflict resolution.
Collection Dates: [c1960-c1990]
Extent: 350 items; pamphlets
Brian Trench is a writer and emeritus academic in the School of Communications of DCU. Before joining the university, he worked for many decades as a journalist covering politics, foreign affairs, industrial relations and technology.
Deposited at DCU in 2016, the Brian Trench collection provides a unique insight into the political and social issues of Ireland in the 1960s, 1970s and 1980s. Containing historically significant pamphlets, periodicals and private correspondence, the collection provides a left-wing perspective on several important issues of that time. These principally comprise, the start of the Civil Rights Movement in Northern Ireland, the re-emergence (and split) of the IRA and Sinn Fein during 1969-70 and the organisation of campaigns targeting homelessness, job security and opposition to nuclear power in the Republic of Ireland. The Trench collection will be of primary interest to researchers examining Irish politics and history.
Collection Dates: [c1960-c2014]
Extent: [c60 boxes]
The British and Irish Communist Organisation (BICO) was a small but influential group based in London, Belfast, Cork and Dublin. Under the leadership of Jack Lane and Brendan Clifford, the group produced a great number of pamphlets, and many regular periodicals including the ‘Irish Communist’ and ‘Workers Weekly’. BICO itself was dissolved in the 1980s and succeeded by several historical societies and publishers.
Deposited at DCU in 2019, the BICO collection provides a unique insight into the evolution of a political organisation on the fringes of politics in Ireland and Britain. The published pamphlets and periodicals span from the 1960s to the mid 2010s. The Northern Ireland ‘Troubles’ are well represented with the political narrative changing as the conflict developed over time. Broader issues of the radical left, such as nationalism, secularism, Stalinism and revisionism are also analysed in detail within the collection. Most of the books and larger pamphlets in the collection are published by Athol books, Belfast, and Aubane Historical Society, Cork.
Collection Dates: [c1899-c1969]
Extent: c3,000 items
The Catholic Truth Society of Ireland was established in 1899, associated with the British Society founded in London in 1868. The Society published and disseminated Catholic literature in popular and more accessible formats and operated on the basis of membership, with members receiving copies of pamphlets that were published. In 1928, the Veritas Company was formed to take over the commercial aspect of the Catholic Truth Society. In 1969, Veritas merged with the Catholic Truth Society to become the Catholic Communications Institute of Ireland.
The collection contains approximately 3000 pamphlets, arranged by each organisation. Many pamphlets feature highly stylised covers reflecting the Celtic iconography during the art deco and comic book styles of the 1940s and 1950s. Many popular titles were re-published in different decades, often with different covers. One of the cover illustrators, George Altendorf, was a colleague of Harry Clarke, and later became art editor at the Irish Press. Some of the eclectic titles include: The Girl Worth Choosing (1955); Grow Up and Marry (1947); Divorce is a Disease (1944); Shall I Be a Nun? (1945); Hell and its Punishments (1948); Don’t Swear Like That!’ (1948); The Young Lady Says ‘No’!, (1946), and What Not to Do on a Date (1960).
Collection dates: [c1860-c1980]
Extent: c30,000 items
Holy Cross College (also known as Clonliffe College) was founded in 1854 as the Catholic diocesan seminary for Dublin City by Cardinal Paul Cullen. It was active as a seminary until 2001. Its library collections were acquired between 1860 and 1980, and were housed in the College until they were transferred to the newly-established Dublin Diocesan Library in 1981, where they were made available to the seminarians, and to the staff and students of the Mater Dei Institute of Education. The library collections were transferred into the care of DCU Library in 2016.
The former Clonliffe College seminary library contains over 30,000 titles. Its subject coverage is primarily religion, theology, philosophy, history and literature, and it features extensive holdings of titles published in Ireland. Most of this collection is in the English language, with substantial proportions in Irish, French, German, Italian, Latin and Spanish. The great bulk of the holdings are monographs, with substantial additional holdings of reference works, periodicals and official publications. The seminary library’s early printed titles, constituting a small proportion of its overall holdings, were removed from the collection and co-located with the larger collection of Archdiocese of Dublin early printed materials in the care of DCU Library.
Collection Dates: [c1890-c1960]
Extent: 2,792 items
Conradh na Gaeilge is a social and cultural organisation which promotes the Irish language in Ireland and worldwide. Conradh na Gaeilge, also known as the Gaelic League, was founded in 1893 by Douglas Hyde, its first president. The organisation instigated the Gaelic revival and Gaeilgeoir activism. As a result of the League, many Irish political leaders and revolutionaries met and became acquainted, influencing the foundation of the Irish Volunteers in 1913. After the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1922, the organisation had a less prominent role in public life as Irish was made a compulsory subject in state-funded schools.
This collection contains 2792 items, principally books, pamphlets and reports from the foundation of Conradh na Gaeilge up to the late 1950s. It includes a first edition of An t-Áilleán (1902) by Tadhg O Donnchadha, the earliest children’s picture book published in Irish, and a first edition of Smuainte Ar Árainn (1902) by Agnes O’Farrelly, the first female Irish-language novelist and founding member of Cumann na mBan. Conradh na Gaeilge benefitted from female membership and participation, and a number of women played prominent roles in the organisation. Many of the pamphlets are written by Máire Ní Chinnéide, Úna Ní Fhaircheallaigh and Máire de Buitléir, members of the early Executive of Conradh na Gaeilge.
Collection Dates: [c1950]-1985
Extent: 1,600 items
Dermot Ryan was born on 27 June 1924 in Clondalkin, Co. Dublin. As Catholic Archbishop of Dublin, 1972-1984, Ryan was regarded as a liberalising force after John Charles McQuaid. His ordination by the Pope Paul VI in St Peter's Basilica, 13 February 1972, was the first papal ordination of an Irish prelate for several centuries. Ryan’s roles and responsibilities included Chair of the Board of the Mater Misericordiae University Hospital, Governor of St Vincent's Hospital, Chair of the Board of Trustees of the Chester Beatty Library and Vice-President of the Irish Episcopal Conference.
The collection of Dermot Ryan includes 1,600 items of which 300 are pamphlets. It has a strong academic focus, which reflects Ryan’s life as a scholar and ecumenical researcher. Subjects include the languages of Hebrew and Aramaic, sacred theology, sacred scripture and dogmatic theology. The collection is primarily concerned with theology and philosophy, but also representative of Ryan’s position as a part-time Professor of Near Eastern Languages at University College Dublin.
Collection Dates: [c1951-c1987]
Extent: 473 items
Liam Miller was born William Miller on 24 April 1924 in Mountrath, Co. Laois. He studied architecture at University College Dublin and travelled to London after 1945 to work on post-war reconstruction projects. Liam and his wife Josephine (née Browne) returned to Dublin to found the Dolmen Press in 1951. With no formal training in printing, Miller was self-taught in typography and printing as the Dolmen Press developed, working from Glenageary, Baggot Street and Mount Street, Dublin.
The collection contains 473 items, providing insight into the development of the Dolmen Press, Miller’s career as a printer and the corresponding literary scene in Ireland during the mid twentieth century. Founded as an outlet to promote Irish publishing the Dolmen Press heavily featured the work of Irish artists. The scope of the press grew to include prose literature by Irish authors as well as a broad range of critical works about Irish literature and theatre. The life and works of William Butler Yeats is a recurring theme in a variety of published works. One of the key items in this collection is Thomas Kinsella's The Táin Bó Cuailnge (1969), an Ulster cycle of heroic tales which Kinsella worked on since 1954. In this folio of 300 pages, Kinsella's translation is accompanied by 130 brush drawings by Louis le Brocquy. The Dolmen Press also commissioned artwork by Tate Adams and Leonard Baskin, present in this collection.
Collection Dates: [c1930-c1990]
Extent: 7,000 books, pamphlets and periodicals
Harry Levin was an American literary critic and scholar of modernism and comparative literature. Levin made his academic name with his ground-breaking study of James Joyce in 1941. Levin’s James Joyce: a critical introduction, placed importance on Joyce's humane play of imagination and brought him within the understanding of a larger readership. Under his guidance and inspiration Harvard’s Department of Comparative Literature became a focus for scholars and students who were keen to extend beyond the confines of a single literature. In the course of a long and distinguished career, he was awarded honorary doctorates by many universities, including Oxford and the Sorbonne.
Harry Levin’s personal library of books, pamphlets and periodicals was deposited at DCU in 2004 (date to be checked) and runs to about 7,000 items with a focus on literature, fiction, poetry, literary criticism, and history. A sizable amount of titles are published in foreign languages, such as Russian and French. This collection will be of relevance to scholars of literature, comparative literature and the historiography of the arts and culture in the twentieth century.
Note: This collection is uncatalogued at present
Collection Dates: [c1930]-1973
Extent: 5,000 books and pamphlets
John Charles McQuaid was Catholic Archbishop of Dublin between 1940-1972. McQuaid was educated at St Patrick's College, Cavan, and later at Blackrock College in Dublin and Clongowes College in Kildare. At the time of his appointment as archbishop in 1940, McQuaid was only 45 and was one of the youngest members of the Catholic hierarchy. During his episcopate the population of Dublin increased to over 800,000 people and the number of diocesan clergy increased from 370 to 600. Throughout his career, he provided advice and counsel to successive Irish governments as well as writing on papal encyclicals, philosophy, and theology.
The personal library of John Charles McQuaid contains over 5,000 titles, including 900 pamphlets, largely representing his work as Archbishop of Dublin. The library collection is primarily ecclesiastical, with general and specific interest subject holdings, used for study, analysis and critique. Other interests of McQuaid include history, literature, education and psychology. This library collection represents the sources available to McQuaid during his episcopate, while engaging with government policy and sentiment towards personal rights, the family, education, private property, religion, and the directive principles of social policy.
Collection Dates: [c1820-c2007]
Extent: 443 items
Publications acquired and deposited in St. Patrick’s College, Dublin, since 1875.
There are 443 books in the collection, spanning Maria Edgeworth's The Parent's Assistant, or Stories for Children Vol 1 & 2, (1829) to Duncan Crosbie's Life in an Irish Castle: the Journal of a 17th Century Castle in Times of Peace and War (2007). The collection includes a number of rare works from the nineteenth century by authors such as Charles Kingsley, Lewis Carroll, and Captain Mayne Reid. Irish writers such as Sineád de Valera and Eileen O'Faoláin are also represented, with the majority of de Valera’s publications in Irish. The collection contains some unique and important texts from the beginning of the twentieth century, relating to the Irish Literary Revival, including publications by Alice Furlong, A. Ruby Jackson, Charlotte Dease, and John Hannon. The collection also contains picture books and illustrated works.
Collection Dates: [c1811-c1831]
Extent: 185 items
The Society for Promoting the Education of the Poor in Ireland, also known as the Kildare Place Society, due to its location in Dublin, was a voluntary educational agency founded in 1811 before the establishment of the National Board of Education in 1831. It was established with the aim of providing non-denominational education and its pioneering work included the building of schools, a library, teacher training, textbook publishing and the establishment of an inspectorate to monitor schools. When the Irish National School was established in 1831, the Kildare Place Society became the Church Education Society and this group went on to manage the training of teachers for Protestant schools until the Church of Ireland Training College was established in 1884. This organisation eventually became the Church of Ireland College of Education.
The Kildare Place Society library collection contains 185 items arranged in two categories: textbooks and educational library books. The textbooks include editions of the Dublin Reading Book and Dublin Spelling Book, which were based on the Lancastrian system of education that was used in its schools and represents the first Irish attempt at an organised reading scheme for children of the poor. The educational library books concern travel narratives, natural history, poetry, and didactic fiction. The Kildare Place Society supported a high standard of printing and illustration within its books and the texts include many examples of woodcut illustrations.
Collection Dates: [c1900-c1970]
Extent: 131 items
Born in Longford in 1881, Colum grew up in Dublin attending Glasthule national school before becoming a clerk for the Irish Railway Clearing House at 17. After joining the Gaelic League, he became friends with influential figures such as William B. Yeats, Arthur Griffith and James Joyce. Through his novels, plays, short-stories and poetry, Colum is viewed as an influential figure in twentieth century Irish literature.
This collection contains 131 items, principally works by Colum for adults and children. It includes texts such as A Boy in Eirinn (c1916), illustrated by Jack B. Yeats, and The Children of Odin (1920). It also includes some rarer children's books by Colum, such as The Big Tree of Bunlahy: Stories of My Own Countryside (1933). The most recently published book for children in the collection is The Six Who Were Left in a Shoe (c1968), illustrated by Joseph Schindelman. It also contains his final collection of poetry, Images of Departure (1969), where some beautiful lyrics recall memories of Mary Colum (née Maguire), his wife.
Collection Dates: [c1930]-1970
Extent: 72 items
Patricia Lynch was born 4 June 1894 in Cork city. As a child she was put in the care of a Mrs Hennessy from Bantry, renowned in the vicinity as a storyteller. It was from her that Patricia inherited a fascination with Irish folklore. Lynch's earliest children's stories were published in the Irish Press in 1931. Between then and 1967, when her last children's novel was published, she wrote around fifty children's books and around two hundred short stories. In her work she addressed themes such as childhood rejection, loneliness, and emigration. Her work was translated into several European languages and won various national and international awards.
The collection contains 72 items including various editions of Lynch's work, including a first edition of The Turf-Cutter’s Donkey (1934). It also includes the complete Brogeen series (1940s-60s) as well as Eibhlín agus Séamus (1942). More modern texts include The Dark Sailor of Youghal (1995), which was first published in 1951. The collection reflects the unique imagination and writing skills of Lynch, one of the most popular children’s authors of the newly independent Irish Free State.
Collection Dates: [c1840]-1910
Extent: 72 items
Patrick Weston Joyce was an educationalist, historian, linguist, translator, and collector of folk music. He was born in Ballyorgan, Co. Limerick and attended hedge schools where he studied science, grammar, history, and the classics. In 1845, he was employed as a teacher and quickly promoted to principal of the Model School, Clonmel, Co. Tipperary. He was subsequently appointed as principal of the Commissioner's Training College in Dublin. Despite his distinguished professional career, Joyce is remembered for his considerable contribution to Irish culture, publishing extensively on Irish music, history, literature, folklore, topography, and language.
The collection contains 72 books and reflects Joyce’s eclectic interests and includes many unique items and autographed presentation copies of his own work and books from his personal library. These include nine manuscripts associated with Joyce or his family members, including a manuscript in Joyce's hand of Echtra Cormaic itir Tairngiri agus Ceart Claíd Cormaic (Adventures of Cormac in the Land of Promise), which Joyce translated from the Book of Ballymote. Within this collection is Joyce’s acclaimed topographical work The Origins and History of Irish Names of Places (1869–70) and his pioneering linguistic study of modern Hiberno-English, English As We Speak It In Ireland (1910).
Collection Dates: [c1926]-1972
Extent: 189 items
Colm Ó Lochlainn was born William Gerard O'Loughlin at Drumcondra, Dublin, on 11 October 1892. Ó Lochlainn was educated at Belvedere College and at St Mary's College, Rathmines, before entering University College Dublin in 1910. He joined the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) in 1913 and was one of the founding members of the Executive of the Irish Volunteers in November 1913. Ó Lochlainn worked for the family publishing business during the revolutionary era and in 1926 he founded the Three Candles Press, based in Fleet Street, Dublin. Ó Lochlainn was closely involved at every stage of the production of the company's books.
The collection contains 189 items and provides a unique window into early twentieth-century Irish history, music and literature. Ó Lochlainn’s publications are regarded as the work of a master printer. He designed a new Irish language typeface, named Colum Cille, based on lettering found in medieval Celtic manuscripts. He also produced the ‘Baothin’ display type modelled on German ‘Hammerschrift’. Many examples of this fine printwork are found within this unique collection.