“Sources” at the National Library of Ireland

IGSI is in good company with its new blog. Last month, the National Library of Ireland (NLI) launched a fascinating blog: http://www.nli.ie/blog/.   

Reading the NLI blog led me to look at their digital library, and specifically at the “Sources” digital directory: http://sources.nli.ie/. Over 180,000 Irish manuscripts and periodicals are catalogued there. 

Richard Hayes started this gargantuan indexing task 70 years ago.  He felt the Library should collect “all sources of information on everything relating to Ireland or to Irishmen for all periods”. He dispatched researchers to find all irreplaceable Irish manuscripts, wherever they were located. The work was published as Manuscript Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation (1965, with a supplement in 1975) and Sources for the History of Irish Civilisation: Articles in Irish Periodicals (1970). His 23 volumes, called simply “Hayes’  Sources”, had previously been available at only a limited number of archival institutions, universities and libraries.

This has changed as a result of the National Library’s digital library programme.  Since 2007 the Library has been working to make hundreds of thousands of records readily searchable online.

For fun, I browsed the index (All Fields) for “Hickey” and scored 214 results.  (My husband’s paternal great-grandfather, Patrick Hickey, was born in 1819 near Cappaghwhite, County Tipperary.)

One can filter the search results in several ways, including Dates, Places, People, etc.  By filtering on Places, I found intriguing titles such as “Pedigree of Hickey, O’Hickey, Hicky of Ballyhickey, Drim…Cappagh Castle…, 1641-1950” and “Old Mountain Home, A Tale of Tipperary” by William Hickey, 1886.  Who knows if these relate to “our Hickeys”?  But it makes me want to jump on a plane and spend a couple days reading manuscripts at the National Library.  A (much!) cheaper option is to request photocopies from the National Library, which I just might do.

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