Irish & Reference Collection

This collection is the centrepiece of the Linen Hall Library, and has been referred to as "the jewel in the crown" of local studies librarianship in Northern Ireland. Although founded in 1788 with the purpose of collecting "such materials as will illustrate the antiquities, the natural, civil, commercial and ecclesiastical history of this country" the Linen Hall Library did not start to collect Irish material until 1893. Before this date material relating to Ireland was interfiled with general books on those topics. With the decision taken to actively collect in this subject area all Irish material already in the library was brought together in a special class. Books, newspapers, periodicals, maps, prints, charts, reports, inquiries, manuscripts and pamphlets relating to all aspects of Irish civilisation form one of the most important Irish collections in the world. The Irish Collection at the Linen Hall Library has a special emphasis on Northern Ireland. The collections are strongest in relation to its immediate hinterland of Belfast, Antrim and Down. The Caldwell Collection has been integrated with the Irish & Local Studies Collection. Mr S. A. G. Caldwell of Newcastle, County Down donated his private collection of Irish books and manuscripts on the linen industry to the Linen Hall Library. The collection represents a busy man's private interests and spans the fields of literature, history, archaeology, industry, agriculture and religion. It contains many of the standard works in each field. Over a period of fifty years Mr Caldwell collected and read the works of the major Irish writers and was particularly fond of Daniel Corkery, Seamus MacManus, Standish O'Grady and Maurice Walsh. Included in the collection are works by Caldwell on the mechanics of spinning and weaving, in which business he wass employed for many years.


Many of the items held in the collection are unique to the Linen Hall Library. It is a very comprehensive collection which spans three centuries. Good range of subjects which are well repesented by standard works in each area. Strong bias towards major Irish writers.

Physical characteristics

150,000 volumes; non-book materials

Description or Catalogue - select Catalogue


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Added by Linen Hall Library | Last updated on: 25 August 2018