Hibernica Collection Queen's University Belfast




The Hibernica Collection, or Henry Collection as it was previously known, is a substantial collection of monographs, periodicals and pamphlets of general Irish interest and/or origin, being strongest in history and literature, and also including works of Scottish Gaelic, Welsh and Breton. Officially established in 1929 with a deposit of 1000 volumes from the personal library of R.M. Henry (Professor of Latin at Queen's, 1908-38), the collection now represents the largest single subject division held in Special Collections containing in excess of 35,500 volumes and pamphlets dating from the mid 19th century to the present day. Principal strengths of the Hibernica collection include the T.F. O'Rahilly library collection of literature in Irish and Celtic philology, and the Simms Collection of Foreign Books relating to Ireland and by Irish persons printed abroad (pre-1701). The collection also includes comprehensive series of major Irish periodicals and journals such as Irish Historical Studies, Irish Ecclesiastical Record and the James Joyce Quarterly. All major subjects relating to Ireland and Northern Ireland are covered including, in particular, history, politics, literature, philology, economics, society and culture


The Hibernica Collection is a particularly strong source of material for the study of Irish (and English) history, politics, and economics, mainly for the period, 1749-1814. Other areas of strength include Anglo-Irish literature, and subjects relating to the historical, political and cultural development of Northern Ireland.

Physical Characteristics

The Hibernica Collection is essentially a bibliographical assemblage of monographs (hardback and paperback), periodicals and pamphlets consisting of approx. 29,000 volumes (plus pamphlets), dating principally from the 18th century to the present day. A small number of CDs, CD-Rs and videos can also be found.


Breton;English;French;German;Irish;Irish Gaelic;Russian;Welsh

Collection Type



Policy: Active   Method: Purchase;   Periodicity: Regular


The collection is available for reference only under supervised access in the Special Collections Reading Room at The McClay Library. Further information is available here: http://www.qub.ac.uk/specialcollections 

Visitor access to The McClay Library

Description or Catalogue

Titles in this collection can be found on the Library catalogue (QCAT) available at: http://www.qub.ac.uk/directorates/InformationServices/TheLibrary/



Queen's University Belfast


Academic Institution


The Library at Queen’s was established in 1849 following the foundation of the original college in 1845. Based initially in the Great Hall, and, from 1869, in its own separate accomodation, the Library catered to the needs of all students enrolled in the college before future growth and expansion dictated otherwise. Today the Library is dispersed across a number of departmental libraries throughout Northern Ireland each providing access to what has become one of the largest collections of books, periodicals and pamphlets in the province with over one million items noted in the official library catalogue. Principal centres include the Main Library (with additional 1960s tower block) situated on the main campus site, the Medical Library at RVH, the Science Library in Chlorine Gardens (opened 1969), the Agriculture and Food Science Library at Newforge Lane (1970s), the Biomedical libraries in the City Hospital and in the Medical Biology Centre (Lisburn Rd), the Veterinary Research Library, the Seamus Heaney Library (1997) and the Campus Libraries at Armagh and Altnagelvin. Although largely adminstered as a separate unit for most of its history, the Library was recently amalgamated with the University’s Computer Services and Audio-Visual departments to form a new Information Services department in the year 2000.



Queen's University Belfast


The McClay Library
10 College Park




Access Control

The McClay Library operates a controlled entry system.  Members are required to use their Queen’s staff, student or library card to obtain admission. 

Information for visitor access to The McClay Library for researchers not affiliated with Queen's is available from the Library website at http://www.qub.ac.uk/lib

Visitor access to Special Collections & Archives is detailed here http://www.qub.ac.uk/specialcollections

Administrator Role








Academic Institution






Queen's University Belfast was formerly established as 'Queen's College, Belfast' by Queen Victoria in 1845 as one of a network of three Queen's Colleges in Ireland alongside Cork and Galway. It was raised to the status of a full university in 1908 with its own Charter and Statutes. When Queen's College first opened its doors in 1849, there were 20 professors and 90 matriculated students all based in the main Lanyon building off University Road, Belfast. Since then, the University has grown considerably both in reputation and stature reflecting its status as one of the oldest universities in the UK. Now catering to some 1,300 academics and 17,000 full and part-time students, the University offers courses and research opportunities in Agriculture & Food Science, Arts, Economics & Social Sciences, Medicine & Health Sciences, Science, Engineering, Education, Law and Theology based in centres within several miles of the original site, as well as a Marine Laboratory at Portaferry, a campus at Armagh City and outreach centres in Omagh and Newcastle and a nursing campus at Altnagelvin Hospital in Derry. Notable persons to have come through Queen’s doors include Seamus Heaney, a recipient of the Nobel Prize for Literature, Mary McAleese, former President of Ireland and senior officer at Queen's, David Trimble, a former member of teaching staff and a joint recipient of the Nobel Prize for Peace and actor Liam Neeson.