Special Collections > Our Collections

(1) Manuscripts & primary sources
I.   Original manuscripts
II.  Facsimiles of manuscripts
III. Manuscripts on microfilm
IV. Primary sources, printed and on microfilm
V.  Maps
(2) Older Printed Books I.   Older printed books
(3) Modern Printed Books I.   Individual named collections: an overview
II.  Other collections
III. Selected individual highlights in our collections

(1) Manuscripts & primary sources

I. Original manuscripts

Special Collections holds two main series of original Gaelic Manuscripts:

Torna Collection: These are manuscripts which belonged to Professor Tadhg O Donnchadha, Professor of Irish at University College Cork (1916-1944). They have been catalogued by Professor Padraig de Brun: Clar Lamhscribhinni Gaeilge Cholaiste Ollscoile Chorcai: Cnuasach Thorna. One of the many interesting items would be a 19th century version of the Irish-style Arthurian tale Eachtra an Mhadra Mhaoil with hand-painted frontispieces designed to imitate printed books.
Over 200 additional manuscripts were purchased by or donated to the Library. Seventy seven of these belonged to Professor James E.H. Murphy, Professor of Irish at Trinity College Dublin (1896-1919). A catalogue of this collection has been compiled by Dr Breandan O Conchuir: Clar Lamhscribhinni Gaeilge Cholaiste Ollscoile Chorcai: Cnuasach Ui Mhurchu. Most of the remaining manuscripts belonged to Canon Power, Lecturer in and later Professor of Archaeology at University College Cork (1915-1932). Highlights include a version of Geoffrey Keating’s Foras Feasa ar Eirinn in a 17th century hand that has been attributed to Keating himself.

We are privileged to hold the Regensburg Fragment, a 12th century manuscript fragment hailing from one of the numerous Irish monasteries in Bavaria. It is a litany of saints, listing Irish saints such as St Patrick and Cronane alongside local German saints. It is a unique witness of Irish missionary activity and cultural influence in Europe.

The so-called “James Barry Commonplace Book”, essentially a scrap book full of sketches, notes, correspondence, etc., by the Cork-born Irish painter James Barry is in the care of UCC Special Collections. Barry was an important influence on William Blake.

We also hold the papers of various eminent UCC professors including George Boole, Tadhg O Donnchadha (Torna), Daniel Corkery and Cormac O Cuilleanain. They reflect part of the intellectual history of the College.

Other documents we hold were belonging to or are relating to individuals, enterprises or estates. Examples would be William O'Brien, the Kinsale Manorial Records etc.

Special Collections also holds unique manuscript and other material relevant for researchers in the field of music, such as the Arnold Bax Collection, the Dr Richard Henebry wax cylinders and other manuscript music scores.

II. Facsimiles of manuscripts

Special Collections holdings of medieval manuscripts in facsimile are quite extensive. Among them are the Books of Kells, Durrow, Lindisfarne, Armagh, those published by the Irish Manuscripts Commission and the Royal Irish Academy, the Domesday Book, the Utrecht Psalter, the Luttrell Psalter and several Books of Hours. Early English Manuscripts in Facsimile series is also available. Modern manuscript facsimiles include works of John Milton and James Joyce, and the letters of Paul Valery.

III. Manuscripts on microfilm

There is a large collection of manuscripts of Gaelic and historical interest available on microfilm. These include the Gaelic Manuscripts in the Royal Irish Academy, manuscripts in the National Archives, Public Records Offices in London and Belfast, and other institutions in Ireland and abroad.

Special Collections is privileged to hold a considerable part of the manuscripts of the National Folklore Collection at UCD. Irish Folklore includes verbal art, oral literature, historical tradition, folk music, song and dance, children’s folklore, custom and belief, material culture, maritime traditions, healing and healers, traditional foodways, and aspects of the life cycle. Archival research and field work form an integral part of all Irish Folklore academic programmes.

IV. Primary sources, printed and on microfilm

The 1901 Census Returns for most of Munster are available on microfilm, as are all published censuses (statistics only!) up to and including 1911.

The British National Archives. To browse through the catalogue, there are three options for the search field for Author: “Great Britain. Public Record Office”, “Great Britain. Royal Commission on Historical Manuscripts” and “National Archives (Great Britain)”. Make sure to try all options to see all holdings.

British / Irish Parliamentary Papers: Holdings of British Parliamentary Papers consist of the original incomplete augmented by those reprinted by Irish University Press. These in turn are enhanced by the Chadwyck-Healey selected microfiche set of British Parliamentary Papers relating to Ireland. Parliamentary Papers of the pre-nineteenth century Irish Parliament are available.

Historical newspapers: We have holdings of important Irish and English historical newspapers, including local Cork and Munster newspapers. They are available in hard copy or on microfilm. Examples include The Freemans Journal, Cork Weekly News, The Limerick Leader, The Hibernian, The Phoenix, Fianna, etc.  You can download a list of our Newspapers on Microfilm [PDF 271 KB] (plus some original holdings).

V. Maps

Special Collections holds impressive examples of historical maps, especially early maps of Cork and Kinsale Harbour, and Estate Maps. The Grand Jury Map of Cork (1811) is available on CD-ROM.

Other examples from our collections include:

The Down Survey (1654-1656): We have mostly Cork, some Kerry & Waterford.

We also hold Petty’s reprinted atlas Hiberniae Deliniatio.

Petty's Parish Maps/Terriers
are available on microfilm, but coverage is very uneven. There are several maps of Co. Cork.

Books of Survey and Distribution: We have the Munster section on microfilm. Those of Clare, Galway, Mayo and Roscommon are in hardcopy.

Ordnance Survey Inquisitions of Cork
is available on Microfilm.

Griffith’s Valuation is available on hardcopy for Cork, and on microfilm for the whole country including Cork.

The largest collection of maps is the first edition Ordnance Survey (OS) Maps of Ireland.

Editions of manuscript material relating to maps, e.g. OS Name Books, Letters, OS Memoirs, are an important part of our collections.

Archaeological Survey of Irish RMP maps
: We have hardcopy maps for Cork and Kerry. All the country is available on CD-ROM.

(2) Older Printed Books

Special Collections has impressive collections of books and pamphlets published before 1850.

St Fin Barre's Cathedral Library
This Library consists of some 3400 books and pamphlets. It contains material of theological, political and general interest. It was acquired by University College Cork in 1982. It is fully catalogued. Nearly all volumes are pre 1850, with the great bulk of the material dating from 16th to mid-19th century. The collection includes several incunabula (books printed before 1500). One of these is actually the earliest printed book in our collections: the lesser works by St. Thomas of Aquinas published in Venice in 1497. One of the most impressive volumes is the complete set of large folio volumes of the Polyglot Bible edited by Bishop Walton of London (ca. 1650), a tour-de-force of type-founding and printing in several ancient alphabets. Access to the collection is by selecting the search option “Other” and then “Collections” from the online catalogue, and typing in “St Fin Barres Cathedral”.

Green Coat School Library
On Cork City’s Northside, the Green Coat School was built for the children of poor Protestant families. They were called Green Coat Schools because the uniform was a green coat and cap. It started as a private foundation, but this school and the Cork Blue Coat School became closely linked to the city and to public charity. Both schools were vocationally oriented. The collection is very strong on early printed books on theology and classical authors. It also contains political books and pamphlets, especially concerning the Catholic-Protestant relationship. One example would be the anonymous, not dated pamphlet: No necessity for a Protestant to turn Roman Catholick for salvation. Access to the collection is by selecting the search option “Other” and then “Collections” from the online catalogue, and typing in “Green Coat School”.

General Older Printed Books collection:

Our early printed books collections are especially strong on works with an Irish background. An important example would be Brigida thaumaturga (published in Paris in 1620) by David Rothe, Bishop of Ossory. His life and published works reflect the reality of European exile and education for Irishmen in the Catholic Church during the first half of the 17th century.

Charles Darwin & Natural History: Special Collections is very strong on works on Natural History. We hold first editions of Darwin’s The origin of species and The Zoology of the voyage of H.M.S. Beagle. 18th and 19th century Natural History works with beautiful hand-coloured plates such as Buffon’s Histoire naturelle des oiseaux (1770-1786) are also scientific and artistic highlights of our collections.

(3) Modern Printed Books

I. Individual named collections: an overview

Special Collections has benefitted enormously from individual donors’ generosity and expertise in collecting. Strengths in existing collections are used as a basis and inspiration for further development of our collections. Access to the collections is by selecting the search option “Other” and then “Collections” from the online catalogue, and typing in the collection’s name.

Cantwell Collection: Eamonn Cantwell graduated in Electrical Engineering from UCC in 1960. He has always had a strong interest in Anglo-Irish literature, and the works of W.B. Yeats in particular. Over the years, this has resulted in an outstanding collection of first editions of Yeats’s books.
A highlight would be the enigmatic and extremely rare work attributed to W.B. Yeats “Is the order of R.R. & A.C. to remain a magical order?: written in March, 1901, and given to the adepti of the Order of R.R. & A.C. in April, 1901” by [D.E.D.I.].The order Rubidae Rosae & Aureae Crucis was a section of the Order of the Golden Dawn, the mystical society to which Yeats belonged.

Cooke Library: Mr William Cooke (1865-1955) was the first Lecturer in the Department of Spanish at University College Cork from 1911 to 1938. His collection of 4,000 volumes represents his extensive interest in travel, biography and history of America, Latin America, and Spain.

Corkery Collection: Daniel Corkery (1878-1964), novelist and playwright was lecturer in the Department of English at University College Cork (1931 to 1947). A portion of his library, this collection is representative of his interests.

De Courcy Ireland Collection: Dr John de Courcy Ireland maritime historian and broadcaster has collected a wide range of books, periodicals and ephemera dealing with maritime history and travel.

Friedlander Collection: Elizabeth Friedlander, German artist and designer, who lived in Kinsale, Co. Cork, designed covers for Penguin books, the Nonsuch Press, etc. In this collection we have a valuable collection of Penguin and other publishers' books on a wide variety of subjects, including book-design, layout, calligraphy and the arts and printing in general.

O'Kelly Offprint Collection: Michael J O'Kelly (1915-1982) was Professor of Archaeology at University College Cork from 1946 until his death in 1982. This Collection consists of over 2,000 offprints, which Professor O'Kelly had received from other archaeologists throughout the world. It also includes a copy of each of his own publications.

O Riordain Collection: Sean O Riordain (1916-1977), poet and essayist, was an assistant in the Department of Modern Irish at University College Cork (1969- 1976). His annotated collection, which reflects the poet's interests in worldwide literature, was acquired by University College Cork in 1978.

Torna Collection: Books and journals belonging to the late Professor Tadhg O Donnchadha (Torna), Professor of Irish at University College Cork (1916-1944) form the nucleus of a research collection for Celtic Studies. The collection has been extended by purchases of related material published since the death of Torna.

II. Other collections

Transmissions and Transformations of the Ancient World Collection: This is a major interdisciplinary collection, central to the development of the Humanities at UCC. It is particularly strong on Classical, Medieval and Renaissance Studies, and the history and development of art (visual art and literature) in Europe. As a collection, it is unique in Ireland in its scope and comprehensiveness. Most of the collection is kept in Special Collections to preserve this invaluable research tool as a coherent and meaningful entity. To browse our holdings, please click here: http://library.ucc.ie/search/f?SEARCH=transmissions.
Some Transmissions and Transformations textbooks, journals and series are also kept on the main floors of the Boole Library, where they can be consulted or borrowed.
Please be aware that items from the Transmissions and Transformations collection held in Special Collections (call-number starts with “TT”) cannot be borrowed, but have to be read in Special Collections. They have to be requested in advance. To request items, please contact the Special Collections Desk.

Cuala Press: The Cuala Press was founded by Elizabeth Yeats and her brother W.B. Yeats in 1904. It produced works by writers of the Celtic Revival, and numerous works by W.B. Yeats. The collection includes some Dun Emer (an earlier publishing venture run by Elizabeth) imprints.

Attic Press Publications: We hold an archival set of Attic Press Publications (incomplete).

Cork University Press & other UCC publications: We hold the archival set of publications of Cork University Press, including Cork University Record.
Other college publications held include examination papers, calendars, reports of presidents etc.

Humour Collection: This Collection of books and journals with a common theme of humour was acquired by the Library in 1981. The concept “humour” is wider than the term may suggest.

Munster Printing Collection: This is a collection of books, pamphlets and ephemera printed in Munster, irrespective of date.

Three Candles Press: The Three Candles Press publishes fine editions of contemporary poetry. Limited editions are kept in Special Collections.

X Collection: This Collection consists of post 1850 books which are rare, unique or of special interest, e.g., out of print and valuable, signed by the author, special printing, etc.

Dolmen Press: Liam and Josephine Miller founded Dolmen Press in 1951. It published poetry and prose by Irish authors as well as critical works on Irish literature and theatre. The subject matter includes  literature of Irish authors and works as well as criticism of Irish authors and works.

III. Selected individual highlights in our collections

James Joyce: Special Collections has a first edition of A Portrait of the Artist as a Young Man, a signed first edition of Finnegan’s Wake, and a copy of Ulysses illustrated by Matisse signed by Joyce and Matisse.

George Orwell: We have a first edition of Nineteen Eighty-Four, including the rare dusk jacket.

Seamus Heaney: Special Collections has several first, limited and/or signed editions of the Nobel Laureate’s works.

Harry Clarke: We have several works illustrated by the Irish stained glass artist and book illustrator, among them E.A. Poe’s Tales of Mystery and Imagination, and Goethe’s Faust.



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Last updated: 21 October 2016

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