Trinity Marks the 350th anniversary of the death of James Ussher

Posted on: 21 March 2006

To mark the 350th anniversary of the death on March 21st 1656 of one of the most outstanding scholars of the 17th century, James Ussher, Archbishop of Armagh, Trinity College Dublin is currently running an exhibition of Ussher’s writings and correspondence. Ussher is best known today for his work in biblical chronology and the dating of creation to the year 4004 BC.

This TCD exhibition open to the public forms part of the Ussher Project, a €110,000 Irish Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences (IRCHSS) funded project, which aims to produce a scholarly three-volume edition of Ussher’s correspondence.

“Ussher has justifiably been described as one of the most influential intellectuals of early modern Europe and Trinity College Dublin’s greatest scholar. His letters reflect his political and ecclesiastical role at the head of the Church of Ireland at a crucial time of forging its identity as a separate enclave from the Church of England. They likewise reveal his pivotal role in Irish, British and European intellectual life,” explained exhibition co-ordinator, Dr Elizabethanne Boran, Department of History, TCD and Editor of the Ussher correspondence.

Prepared in conjunction with M. Phil. in Reformation and Enlightenment Studies students at TCD, the exhibition runs in the Old Library’s Long Room until 26 March 2006.

Ussher produced a vast array of works dealing with a host of topics. Born in Dublin in 1581, he played a crucial role in the development of Trinity before his elevation to the bishopric of Meath (1621) and the archbishopric of Armagh (1625). His death in March 1656 was the cause of a general outpouring of grief among scholars across Europe who mourned the death of a man ‘learned to a miracle.’