Irish Studies Resources in the Department of Special Collections at the University of Notre Dame
The Abbey Theatre.
The Rare Book Collection includes over 200 programs of plays performed at the Abbey Theatre, Dublin, from 1904 to 1971. A searchable database of the plays appears on the department’s Web site.
Book of Kells.
One of the most famous and beautiful of monumental Gospel books, the Book of Kells contains the four Gospels of the Biblical New Testament. The copy at Notre Dame is a facsimile of the original book which was written around 800 A.D. and has belonged to Trinity College, Dublin, since 1600. The facsimile was published in 1990 after ten years of preparation. The copy that was presented to the University of Notre Dame in 1991 by The Wild Geese of Stamford, Connecticut, is on permanent display.
The Rare Book Collection contains over eighty books published by Cuala Press as well as a complete run of the periodical, A Broadside. Owned and operated by Yeats's sisters, Elizabeth and Lily, the Press promoted new works by Irish writers such as Lady Gregory, John Millington Synge, Oliver St. John Gogarty, and others from 1902 to the mid-1940s. Also in the department is a collection of 125 hand-colored greeting cards printed by the Press. These were a gift of Mr. John Bennett Shaw ('37). The books can be identified in the Libraries’ catalog in “Advanced Search” with “Cuala” in the publisher box.
Eighteenth-Century Irish Plays.
The Rare Book Collection is strong in eighteenth-century Irish plays. Twenty-eight authors are represented by 109 plays, in some cases including both the Dublin and the London editions. Playwrights include Bickerstaffe, Boaden, Congreve, Cumberland, Farquhar, Hoadly, Home, Jacob, Kelly, Lloyd, MacNally, Mallet, Morton, Murphy, O’Keeffe, Otway, Reynolds, Sheridan, Smith, Southern, Steele, Vanbrugh, and Whitehead. Women playwrights include Hannah Cowley, Harriet Lee, and Sophia Lee.
Grattan Pamphlet Collection.
The Henry Grattan pamphlet collection is composed of sixty-three books and pamphlets on Irish free trade and independence. Bound together, the works were published by various publishers from 1754 to 1815 in Dublin. Some of the works are annotated by the eighteenth-century orator and original owner, Henry Grattan.
Irish Maps and Sea Charts.
The David J. Butler Collection of Maps of Ireland includes over seventy maps printed by preeminent map-makers of the sixteenth, seventeenth, and eighteenth centuries, the majority being seventeenth century. The Thomas C. and Helen G. McGrath Collection of Sea Charts of Ireland includes eleven charts ranging from the sixteenth to the eighteenth century. Several of the maps and charts are on display in the Reading Room and offices of the Department of Special Collections. Both collections were donated by Mr. Thomas McGrath. The maps and charts are listed on the department’s Web site as is Mr. McGrath’s own memoir, The Joy of the Chase.
Irish Rebellion of 1798.
Over eighty titles in the Rare Book Collection pertain to the events preceding, during, and following the Irish Rebellion of 1798. Included are pamphlets, memoirs, biographies, histories, three contemporary newspapers, and a complete set of the Irish Parliamentary Debates as well as court proceedings and parliamentary reports. The collection was acquired by purchase in 1989/90. A partial bibliography of the collection appears on the department’s Web site. The purchase of seventy-five pamphlets relating to the Act of Union significantly expanded this collection. The latter can be identified in the Libraries’ catalog in “Advanced Search” with “union pamphlet” in the genre box.
The Loeber Collection of Irish Fiction
Dr. Rolf Loeber and Dr. Magda Stouthamer-Loeber of the University of Pittsburgh created this remarkable collection of 2,444 novels that are either by Irish authors or about Ireland and the Irish. Mostly first or early editions, the books were produced in the eighteenth, nineteenth, and early twentieth centuries, although the bulk of the collection is nineteenth century. Many titles appear in variant editions, including translations, and a large number possess their original bindings. In addition to the works of important authors such as Maria Edgeworth, Charles Lever, and Charles Maturin, some highlights include:
- first editions by eighteenth-century novelists, Maria Hunter, Charles Johnstone, Sophia Lee, Regina Maria Roche, and others.
- the original publication of Charles O’Malley, the Irish Dragoon in twenty-two monthly parts.
- a copy of Jane Sinclair by William Carleton with an autographed letter to Lady Wilde tipped in.
A.A. Luce Collection on George Berkeley.
A. A. Luce (1882-1977) became the twentieth century's foremost scholar of the Irish philosopher, George Berkeley (1685-1753). The collection of over 290 titles included Luce's personal library containing many early editions of Berkeley's works and also the important secondary works. The collection was acquired by purchase in 1993. A partial list of the works by Berkeley appears on the department’s Web site.
James Clarence Mangan Collection.
A small collection of books relate to author James Clarence Mangan (1803-1849). The collection includes scarce contemporary periodicals such as The Nation.
O'Neill Collection of Traditional Irish Music.
Donated by Captain Francis O'Neill in 1931, this collection contains approximately 1,000 volumes pertaining to Irish studies. The majority of imprints are late nineteenth- and early twentieth-century, but also include some rare eighteenth-century titles. Over 100 titles relate to music specifically. This collection is located in the Music Collections Office. In addition over 100 cassettes of Irish music are located in the Renner Family Audio Learning Center in Hesburgh Library.
Sweetman Family Collection in Irish Studies.
Over 470 volumes in this collection came from an ancestral home named Clohamon in the county of Wexford, Ireland. The first member of the Sweetman family to occupy Clohamon was the liberal Catholic Irish poet and author Walter Sweetman (1830-1905). Most of the volumes in the collection were inherited or acquired by Walter Sweetman and include copies of his own works as well as eighteenth- and nineteenth-century books on subjects ranging from history, biography, and literature to religion, economics, agriculture, astronomy, and physics. Manuscript materials include two letter books and a cash account book of Michael Sweetman (Walter's father) and a letter book of Walter Sweetman with entries covering the years 1861-1905. A genealogical chart tracing the Sweetman family roots back ten generations to the early 1700s also accompanies the collection, which was donated in 1997 by the Richard C. Sweetman (‘58) family in honor of Richard S. and Evelyn O'Rourke Sweetman. For additional information see the department’s Web site.
Todd Collection of the Works of Edmund Burke.
William B. Todd (1917- ) published the descriptive bibliography of the works of Irish statesman Edmund Burke (1729?-1797). Numbering over 270 volumes this collection was Todd's own library of early editions of those works, a number of secondary sources, and one manuscript letter by Burke. The collection was acquired by purchase in 1994. A partial list of the works by Burke appears on the department’s Web site.
Heinz J. Vienken Collection on Jonathan Swift.
Over 250 titles collected by Dr. Heinz Vienken relating to works once owned by Jonathan Swift. Dates range from 1539 to 1857; some editions are the same that Swift owned. The books can be identified in the Libraries’ catalog with a keyword search: Vienken and Swift.
Wolf Collection of Irish Postage Stamps.
Included here are most of the postage stamps used in the Republic of Ireland since its independence in 1922 as well as overprints, commemoratives, coils, errors, booklets, postcards, and first-day envelopes. Other specimens are two letters exhibiting seventeenth-century postal marks and illegal stamps used by Sinn Fein between 1907 and 1922. The collection was donated in 1991 by Dr. Charles Wolf, who continues adding to it. Examples from the collection appear on the department’s Web site.
The Rare Book Collection demonstrates other strengths in Irish publishing, including over 800 books that were published in Dublin from the seventeenth to the twentieth centuries. The oldest Dublin imprint is Veterum epistolarum hibernicarum sylloge by James Ussher. The eighteenth century is the strongest period with over 430 works published from 1701 to 1800. These include the many titles in the Berkeley, Burke, Irish Rebellion, and Union Pamphlet collections plus the numerous Irish plays, all described above. In addition there are many works on other subjects such as religion, history and antiquities, and literature. Besides works by classical, French, and Anglo-Irish authors holdings are particularly strong in works by Goldsmith, Swift, and Edgeworth. Some 170 titles published from 1801 to 1900 include the Mangan Collection and a variety of other subjects. Examples are a report of the Lewis and Clark expedition published in 1817 and The Post-Chaise Companion about travel in Ireland published in 1810. Over 200 works were published from 1901 to 2000, including the Cuala Press and Abbey Theatre collections described above and first or special editions by authors such as Yeats, Synge, Joyce, and Beckett. All of these Dublin editions can be identified in the Libraries’ catalog in “Advanced Search” with “Dublin” in the box for place of publication and “Hesburgh Special Collections” in the location box.
Support for Irish Studies Resources at Notre Dame
Irish Studies library resources have been developed at Notre Dame based on a number of major gifts including those from Captain Francis O'Neill, John Bennett Shaw, Thomas C. McGrath, the Ancient Order of Hibernians, Richard C. Sweetman, the Wild Geese of Stamford, Connecticut, Dr. Charles Wolf, and the Robert Mulkeen family, among others. Ongoing special support for the collections is provided by a number of endowments, including the John F. and Kathleen L. Gibbons Family Endowment in Irish Studies, the Donald R. Keough Endowed Collection in Irish Studies, the John F. O'Loughlin Endowed Collection in Irish Studies, the Anthony J. F. O'Reilly Endowed Collection in Irish History and Society, and the Kennedy Family Endowment in support of the Captain Francis O'Neill Collection.
Prepared by Laura Fuderer, Subject Librarian
for English and French Literature,
University Libraries of Notre Dame,
Notre Dame, Indiana
November, 2000 (Rev. 7/04)
The Department of Rare Books and Special Collections’ Web site is