Dublin Made Easy: The National Library of Ireland

by Gazette Reporter
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If you want to experience the historic culture of the city and country, a trip to the National Library of Ireland (NLI) on Kildare Street is worth the visit.

The mission of the Library is to collect, preserve, promote and make accessible the documentary and intellectual record of the life of Ireland.

The National Library is free of charge to all those who wish to consult the collections. You will need a Reader’s Ticket to consult most categories of material.

The library does not lend books and reading is done in the various reading rooms. They have a copying service and it is possible to get digital images, prints and photocopies of most items in the collections.

The Library has a lively programme of exhibitions and events for all ages.
If you’re interested in researching family history, the NLI also offer regular talks and workshops on the topic.

If you’re peckish, Cafe Joly, named after the National Library’s first donor, is situated in a bright spacious sun-filled room complimented by crisp modern design and contemporary artwork.

The Main Reading Room

Highlight: Stunning large central dome

Following the curved stone stairway to the first-floor, visitors arrive into the impressive domed Reading Room.

It is horse-shoe shaped and almost 50 feet high in the centre and it is lit by a large central dome and side windows high in the walls.


Above the lower walls, shelved for reference books, there is a plaster frieze of cherubs by Harrisons of Dublin.

It is the first area that you should visit if you intend using the Library’s printed or microfilm collection. The Main Reading Room provides seating for 75 readers. Of these, eight are reserved for those reading rare books.

All tables have facilities for laptop use and eight large tables are reserved solely for consulting hard copy newspapers or large format material.

Yeats Exhibition

Highlight: Letters between WB Yeats and his wife

The NLI made a major WB Yeats acquisition last year. They included the purchase from the Yeats family of more than 500 letters between WB Yeats and his wife, George Yeats.

The letters were due to be auctioned by Sotheby’s in London last September, but the National Library was offered the opportunity to acquire them for the national collection several months before the auction.

NLI director, Dr Sandra Collins, said at the time: “WB Yeats spent many happy years writing in the National Library, so it is really fitting that we hold the most important collection of Yeats material in the world, now enhanced even further by these extensive new acquisitions.”

Family History Research

Highlight: The wealth of information and records the NLI has.

Every year thousands of people visit the National Library of Ireland to carry out family history research.

They hold a wealth of information including Catholic Parish Registers, property records, newspapers, directories and heraldic records. They also offer a free Genealogy Advisory Service.

If you are interested in finding out more about your family history, the NLI recommends getting started by asking your immediate family for any information they have. Consult old photographs where names and dates may be notes. Try to establish approximate dates (births, marriages and deaths) as well as names and places of residence.

If you are starting out on your ancestral journey the NLI Family History Research booklet is also available online.


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