The Irish Virtual Research Library and Archives

University College Dublin has created the Irish Virtual Research Library and Archives or IVRLA for short. It is a digital library for the Humanities and Social Sciences. The website says that IVRLA “draws on the extensive resources of archival and rare material held in University College Dublin, and allows researchers to access this material in a digitized format…” They have divided the information into collections that can be browsed or searched and research projects.

You need the program Djvu to view the images in IVRLA.

Under the tab called Collections it is noted that there are restrictions on three Questionnaires relating to the Irish Famine, Emigration to America and Tinkers (Travellers). You need to be a member of UCD to access these pages but all is not lost. You can download an application from the National Folklore Collection research page and then contact the National Folklore Collection directly to apply for access.

Under Collections there are twenty five different collections to research. The Papers of Michael Collins (1890-1922) covers his life in London and his relationships with family and friends in Ireland and includes references to the Gaelic League and Gaelic Athletic Association. There are sixty eight items in the collection and they provide a small biography of Michael Collins in the Collection Description.

Another collection that makes for interesting reading is the 19th Century Pamphlet Collection. There are fifty items in the collection and they cover a broad range of subjects.

A pamphlet entitled “The History of Ireland from the Beginning of the World to the Present Time./ By H.E.” was published in 1879 and is supposed to be a satirical look at the history of Ireland. According to the title page of the book H.E. also authored “A Short History of the Dublin Aristocracy.” The first line of the pamphlet is “4004, B.C. At this distance of time it is difficult to decide whether Adam and Eve visited Ireland or not, and it is unnecessary to say that the evidence brought to bear on the subject is of the most shadowy nature.” That line alone makes you want to read further.

The other section to browse is Research Projects and the first item that draws my attention is “Joyce’s Dublin”. I have studied Joyce’s life and writings so this section is of particular interest. This research project is related to the short story “The Dead”. They are providing a greater understanding of the story itself and the time and place of the story’s setting.

While reading the description of the collection, and finding out the researchers involved in the project, it is mentioned that a podcast series was completed. It was broadcast on RTÉ Radio 1 and RTÉ Choice digital radio.

The “Joyce’s Dublin” collection consists of “maps, city guides, photographs and other visual images, relevant historical, political, religious, and economic texts, musical recordings, and interviews from the Urban Folklore Project.” Imagine my disappointment when I tried to view the collection and got an internal error message and a link to return to home page. The problem has been reported so hopefully the collection will be able to be viewed soon.

There is a social history section which has a research project on the Irish Famine. This continues the work that was started under the National Famine Commemoration Project which was set up to mark the 150th anniversary of the Great Irish Famine. The page lists the researchers involved in the project, the projects objectives, acknowledgments and the scope of the project. These are workhouse records for four areas in Ireland.

When you click on the link to view the collection you start on the Collection Description page. The next tab is the Collection Structure and you click on the file of interest. I chose to look at the Rathdrum Union Workhouse and this brought me to a descriptions page. Click on the Contents tab and here you can download an Excel database. There are no names on the database.

Another interesting Research Project is “Georgian Dublin: Architecture and the Built Environment”. Dublin is famous for its Georgian Architecture.

Of particular interest to genealogists is a Historic Maps Collection. There are eleven maps of varying topics available to view. “Fraser’s Map of Dublin and Suburbs: with Street References” was particularly interesting to me. The publication is dated 1860 and the maps are dated 1859. You can zoom in to read the street names.

There is an ejournal available which you can download in PDF format or an abstract.

This website is full of wonderful information and history.

©2010 – Blair Archival Research

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