Disruption to Service

We regret that we are currently experiencing disruption to Manuscripts & Archives Reading Room services from the 12th November until Monday 19th due to work being carried out on the CCTV system throughout the Old Library building. Please email mscripts@tcd.ie with any queries or to place an order for manuscripts material in advance.

Monday 12th – Wednesday 14th November Manuscript readers will be accommodated in the Early Printed Books Reading Room, but we expect that places will be in heavier demand than usual and we may not be able to accommodate everybody.

Thursday 15th – Monday 19th November We anticipate that the Manuscripts & Archives Reading Room will re-open on Thursday 15th November. Readers for Early Printed Books will also be accommodated in the same space and so we expect that places will be in heavier demand than usual and we may not be able to accommodate everybody.

We strongly recommend that you order material in advance if you intend to come in during this time.

We apologise for any inconvenience caused by this essential work. Please email mscripts@tcd.ie or epbooks@tcd.ie if you have any questions.

TCD MS 11482/4/2/18/12 Collen Construction Archive



Sunday marks 100 years since the Armistice which ended the First World War in Europe.The Library of Trinity College Dublin has curated a number of exhibitions and digital initiatives throughout the Decade of Centenaries, and those commemorating the Irish people who served in the First World War are among the most ambitious. This blog post gathers together some of the most prominent examples.

The Library is commemorating the end of the War in 1918, with an exhibition of artefacts from the Research Collections curated in the beautiful and sombre surroundings of the Long Room of the Old Library.

On display are photographs, diaries, scrapbooks, letters, medals and works of art. The subjects of these exhibits include prisoners of war, youthful casualties, injured survivors, Trinity medical students, and members of the public involved in the War effort. The exhibition, entitled ‘Manage to exist and try and be cheerful’, will be on display until 11 January 2019.

In 2016 to commemorate the anniversary of the Battle of the Somme the Library also launched the digital humanities transcription project Fit as Fiddles, and as hard as nails’. The project digitised numerous diaries, letters and memoirs from the First World War. The platform for this project is a website that enables researchers to search 1,600 pages of digitised and transcribed first-hand accounts of Irish men fighting on European battlefields and in Middle Eastern deserts.

For a more general introduction to the Irish perspective on the First World War, researchers may also be interested in the online exhibition produced in collaboration with Google Cultural Institute, The Great War Revisited. This exhibition gives access to over 50 exhibits from the Library’s collection and is drawn from a physical exhibition originally curated in 2008 by Dr Charles Benson former Keeper of Early Printed Books in the Library to whose memory the online exhibition is dedicated.

Estelle Gittins

Soldiers at Peace

Ina Boyle (1889-1967) composer.

Marking the centenary of the Armistice, a composition by reclusive composer Ina Boyle will  be performed in London on 3 November 2018.

Continue reading

Irish Eccentric to Global Icon: Making Oscar Wilde

MM Wilde

Irish Eccentric to Global Icon: Making Oscar Wilde| Neill Lecture Theatre, Trinity Long Room Hub, Fellows Square, Trinity College Dublin| Wed, October 17, 2018, 6pm – 7:30pm

The Library of Trinity College Dublin will mark the launch of a digital version of its Oscar Wilde collection with a public lecture by Michèle Mendelssohn, Associate Professor of English at the University of Oxford and author of the hugely successful biography Making Oscar Wilde on Wednesday October 17th, 2018.

Entitled Irish Eccentric to Global Icon: Making Oscar Wilde, the lecture will celebrate the launch of the Library’s Oscar Wilde digital collection.  The manuscript collection, comprising some 150 items including letters, photographs, theatre programmes and items of memorabilia, will now be made freely available online to a global audience. In addition, a new catalogue of the Library’s significant Oscar Wilde book collection, consisting of over 500 printed items is also now available online.

The event, organised by the Library of Trinity College Dublin and hosted by Vice-Provost and Seamus Heaney Professor of Irish Writing, Chris Morash, will also mark Oscar Wilde’s birthday, which is on October 16th.  Michèle will share her research which underpinned her 2018 biography of Oscar Wilde, published by Oxford University Press. Her book is renowned for its gripping and stylish account of Wilde’s tumultuous rise, fall, and resurrection.

One of Trinity’s most famous alumni, Oscar Wilde is one of the best-known Irish personalities of the 19th century and is one of the great writers of the Victorian era. Besides literary accomplishments, Wilde became a figure of some notoriety for his lifestyle and involvement in the ‘art for art’s sake’ aesthetic movement as well as the circumstances of his imprisonment and early death. Mendelssohn’s book charts Wilde’s extraordinary rise to fame through his tour of the United States, and the public perception of Wilde linked to his Irish identity at that time.

The Library acquired the Oscar Wilde collection in 2011 from Julia Rosenthal, a London-based rare book dealer and a keen collector of both manuscripts and printed works relating to Wilde. Rosenthal purchased her first autographed Wilde letter in 1976 and she continued to collect over the following decades, creating what is thought to have been one of the largest privately-owned Oscar Wilde collections in the world. It is now the only Wilde collection held in a public institution in Ireland.

Now for the first time items from this wonderful collection are freely available to Wilde fans and researchers worldwide, via the Library’s Digital Collections platform. The collection is unique in its focus on the playwright’s downfall and exile years and contains items of symbolic significance for Wilde’s biography, such as a receipt for a loan of money he received on leaving Reading Gaol in 1897, and the only known letter written to his son, Cyril.

The Oscar Wilde book collection contains over 500 books relating to Wilde, including both books by Wilde himself and works about him. Many of the books are first editions and/or inscribed copies, which makes them particularly valuable. Among these is a first edition of An Ideal Husband inscribed by Wilde to the book’s dedicatee, Frank Harris. Another rarity in the collection is a copy of the auction catalogue for the sale of Wilde’s possessions at his home in Tite Street at the time of his trial in 1895 – only four copies of this catalogue are known to survive. Several biographers of Oscar Wilde were given access to the collection by Julia Rosenthal in the past when they were researching their subject. This book collection has recently been catalogued and is now visible on the Library’s online catalogue providing an invaluable resource of material relating to this Irish writer for researchers. These books can be consulted in the Library’s Department of Early Printed Books.

Last year the Library hosted the first major Irish exhibition on Oscar Wilde entitled ‘From Decadence to Despair’. Curated by Assistant Librarian Caoimhe Ní Ghormáin, the highly personal display mapped out the playwright’s meteoric rise to fame and also his dramatic fall from grace. The exhibition was launched by actor Rupert Everett and Senator David Norris. An online version of the exhibition is available to view here.

Further information and registration details about the public lecture are available here: https://www.eventbrite.ie/e/irish-eccentric-to-global-icon-tickets-50740667703

Caoimhe Ní Ghormáin & Lydia Ferguson

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Illuminating the Middle Ages

The Library is home to a unique collection of around 450 medieval Latin manuscripts, spanning a period of 800 years. Until now, the catalogue has existed solely in hard copy but it has been taken from the shelves of the reading room and made globally accessible online through our Manuscripts and Archives online catalogue, available here. You can search specific manuscripts by title, reference number or any keyword relevant to your area of interest – or simply search for the phrase ‘medieval manuscripts’ to have a browse.

TCD MS 52, folio 32v

The most effective way to illustrate the scope of this project is to provide some insight into the array of items that come under the umbrella of Trinity’s Latin manuscript collection. Perhaps the most well-known group consists of seven Early Irish Christian manuscripts dating from Ireland’s golden age of faith and culture. Among the seven are the Book of Armagh (TCD MS 52) and the Book of Kells (TCD MS 58), which are among the most famous manuscripts in Ireland and, in the case of the latter, the world. All seven of these manuscripts have now been conserved, fully imaged and are available freely online through the Library’s Digital Collections.

The medieval collection includes luxuriously illuminated Books of Hours, confessors’ handbooks, psalters and bibles, to name but a few. The Book of Kells may be the most magnificently decorated Insular manuscript in existence but does it have a plate-spinning dog? No.

TCD MS 35, folio 17v

TCD MS 632 presents a kind of fifteenth-century classical handbook for medieval readers. Through articles, diagrams and maps, the book accounts for multiple aspects of classical study including mythology, geography and history. These small circular diagrams represent the rivers of the classical world. The larger infographic here relates to the length of time it takes individual planets to orbit the earth (the word terra is marked in the centre). The seven zones of the earth (including the arctic and temperate) are illustrated on folio 108r, identifying which zones are habitable and which are not. There is also a brief note beneath the diagram referring to the nine Muses of Greek mythology.

TCD MS 632, folios 107v-108r

TCD MS 10994, folio 1r

This charming fellow situated inside the large letter Q of TCD MS 10994, likely depicts Michael of Belluno in Italy; the named scribe of this manuscript. The text serves as a guide for confessors, a list of sins and omissions committed by society, including (but not limited to) boasting, dancing, fighting, superfluous drinking, cursing, gluttons who eat too quickly, men in curled wigs, women who indulge in cosmetics and listening to arousing music.

Other standout examples include the Ricemarch psalter, a Latin text of Welsh origin in an Irish style, and the Dublin Apocalypse (TCD MS 64, pictured below), a fourteenth-century manuscript depicting the Final Judgement in gold and vivid colour that is simultaneously beautiful and grotesque. This particular illustration is the horseman of war, identifiable by his fiery red horse and his big ol’ sword.

If you would like to learn more, here is a quick and shameless plug for our Illuminating the Middle Ages online exhibition which went live in January of this year, available at the following link.

TCD MS 64, folios 3v