The Irish Manuscripts Commission collection in Belfast Central Library comprises some one hundred and forty-one volumes and includes surveys, maps, wills, administrative records, manuscripts and correspondence.
According to the Catalogue of Publications produced by the Irish Manuscripts Commission, the Commission was established in 1928, "to report on collections of manuscripts and papers of literary, historical and general interest relating to Ireland, whether in private or public ownership, and also to arrange for and supervise the execution of programmes of publications." The collection in Belfast Central Library comprises some one hundred and forty-one volumes and includes surveys, maps, wills, administrative records, manuscripts and correspondence. The Correspondence of Emily, Duchess of Leinster for example, provides a vivid account of social and political life in Ireland and England in the second half of the eighteenth century. The letters, written to Lady Amelia Lennox by members of her extensive family, abound with references to the leading figures of the time such as pitt, Fox, Grattan, Mrs Siddons, Walpole and Garrick. There are over sixty letters from her son Lord Edward Fitzgerald, the renowned United Irishman, and nearly one hundred letters from Lady Sarah Lennox, Amelia’s sister, who was reputedly proposed to by George the Third. Amongst the best known surveys reproduced by the Commission is the Census of Ireland 1659 edited by Seamus Pender, which contains copies of townland census returns of the inhabitants of Ireland, compiled under the direction of Sir William Petty. Family records are published such as the Red Book of Ormond. It is a register of the property of the Butler family written mainly in the fourteenth century and is the oldest Irish family register still in existence. Facsimiles of manuscripts also form part of the collection, the most notable being The Oldest Fragments of the Senchas Mar, an ancient collection of Irish law texts. Apart from the individual works there are thirty-three volumes of Analecta Hibernica, the journal of the Irish Manuscripts Commission. The journal includes various documents such as reports on manuscripts collections, descriptive catalogues, lists and indexes, which are unsuited to publication in separate volumes.The collection provides an invaluable resource for the historian undertaking research on different aspects of life in Ireland from medieval times to the present day, as witnessed by one of the most recent publications of the commission, the Select Guide to Trade Union Records in Dublin with details of Unions operating in Ireland to 1970.
The collection is varied and of particular interest to historians, covering subjects such as the correspondence of Daniel o'Connell, Irish monastic and Episcopal Deeds and Irish Trade Union records. There is a wealth of material of interest to the family historian e.g. Quaker records, the Civil Survey and the Census of Ireland 1659. journal contains the reports of the Commission as well as various articles considered too small for separate publication.
Libraries NI have legal owership of this collection. All enquiries regarding access and permissions should be directed to Libraries NI.