12 Jun 2019, 11.00

Some unusual items of national significance were revealed today as the Treasures of the Oireachtas Library was launched by Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann, Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD at Leinster House.

As part of Dáil 100 celebrations, the Oireachtas Library invited guest curators to explore the treasure in its collection and choose their favourites.

The Special Collections range from the late sixteenth century onwards and include historical monographs, maps, periodicals, cartoons, prints and pamphlets. They represent a unique perspective on Anglo-Irish relations and administration during the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.

Attendees at the launch heard from the Ceann Comhairle as he outlined the contents of a booklet which contained three appeals: two from Ireland to America in June 1917 and one from America to Ireland in May 1775. The first appeal is an open letter to President Woodrow Wilson by Patrick McCartan, a medical doctor, revolutionary, and politician. It describes the link between Ireland and America, the American Revolution, Irish efforts for independence, and English attempts to maintain rule over Ireland.

The second appeal is from a group of Irish Volunteers to the U.S. Congress and President.  The third appeal is an extract from the Journals of Congress prepared by delegates appointed at the United Colonies in General Congress, Philadelphia, 1775. The appeal is directed to the people of Ireland. It states their motives for taking up arms and outlines the English force against Americans, noting that the United States would offer the Irish ‘a safe asylum’.

Ceann Comhairle of Dáil Éireann, Seán Ó Fearghaíl TD, expressed his delight that such a collection has been made publicly available in an online exhibition.

The Ceann Comhairle said: “I am delighted that the Houses of the Oireachtas has opened up our collections to the broadest audience possible, the fact that these materials are also available digitally, will show the breadth and diversity of our Special Collections content.”

At the launch Ceann Comhairle discussed his exploration of items related to Ireland’s journey toward self-governance, and interestingly, in advance of the launch guest curators were also invited to explore the treasures in our collection and choose their favourites.

Martyn Turner, political cartoonist with The Irish Times, revealed a fascinating nineteenth century cartoon collection which is just one part of Treasures of the Oireachtas Library.

Dr Aoife Whelan, lecturer at the School of Irish, Celtic Studies and Folklore at University College Dublin, explored Oireachtas items on the Irish language and John Lonergan, former Governor of Mountjoy Prison, detailed the history of prisons and penal reform in Ireland.  

For the Oireachtas Library, Wednesday mornings launch marked the culmination of a large promotion and outreach project, and one which will be enriched by even more additions in years to come.

The Ceann Comhairle explained: “The delivery of Treasures of the Oireachtas Library in such an innovative way, using mixed-media content to enhance engagement, will allow us to add other treasures as part of a unique collection which will be maintained and added to for generations to come.”

Click here to view the Treasures of the Oireachtas Library website to browse our galleries of images, video and text.

Photographs of the launch will issue shortly to picture desks from Maxwell Photography, 01-8308072 or office@maxwellphotography.ie.

Media enquiries

Alan Neary
Houses of the Oireachtas
Communications Unit
Leinster House
Dublin 2
+353 1 618 4743
+353 86 010 7500

Twitter: @OireachtasNews