Graves Collection

Royal Irish Academy | RIA/24 O 39 |

The Graves Collection consists mainly of 19th century antiquarian correspondence. It is an amalgamation of three separate, but related, correspondence collections of three prominent Irish antiquarians:
John O’Donovan (1806-1861)
Rev. James Graves (1815-1886)
Rev. Charles Graves (1812-1899).

The John O’Donovan correspondence reflects O’Donovan’s work and personal interests and are broadly related to the following - Ordnance Survey correspondence; Genealogical Research; Manuscript Research and Publishing; Topographical queries; Archaeology and Antiquities. The series contains letters from over 380 individuals many of whom were well known antiquarians and historians from the period.

The Rev. James Graves correspondence reflects Rev. James Graves’ archaeological interests and his involvement with the Journal of the Kilkenny Archaeological Society. It includes reports of archaeological finds and sketches of artefacts from fellow antiquarians and enthusiasts; discussions on historical sources especially concerning Kilkenny.

The Rev. Charles Graves series mainly consists of documents arising from the business of the Brehon Law Commission, including minute books, reports submitted to Parliament, official correspondence with officials in the Irish Administration etc. The series includes a large number of transcripts and translations of Brehon Law tracts, mainly in the hand of O’Donovan and O’Curry. It also includes correspondence to Graves on the subject of Endowed Schools and Ogham studies.


Antiquarism, Irish Archaeology, Irish Ordnance Survey, Old Irish Manuscripts, Brehon Law Commission, Kilkenny Archaeological Society.

Physical characteristics

16 archival boxes and 8 folders

Description or Catalogue

Pdf of catalogue available for download at
Royal Irish Academy Library manuscript catalogue online






Custodial History

The custodial history of the collection is uncertain. Acquisition may include some or all of the following: manuscript papers and notes on Ogham donated by Alfred Perceval Graves in 1901; purchase of over 600 letters of the late Rev James Graves by the RIA from John Love in 1902; papers presented by Very Rev. Richard Canon Aylward  and Philip Graves.


O’Donovan, John, 1806-1861
Graves, Rev. James, 1815-1886
Graves, Rev. Charles, 1812-1899

Accrual Policy
Accrual Periodicity
Added by Royal Irish Academy | Last updated on: 25 August 2018