Browse Exhibits (10 total)


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The great civilisation of China has fascinated Europeans ever since the first trade encounters took place in the Middle Ages. In this exhibition, we see China through some European books of the 16th and 17th centuries. They are a small selection from the rare books and maps collected by the founder of our library, Narcissus Marsh (1643-1713).
Many of the books and maps on display were produced by Jesuit missionaries who were resident in China. These men were greatly impressed by the sophistication of Chinese civilisation, culture and science. The survival of these books in a small library in inner-city Dublin speaks to Ireland's interest — then and now — in the wider world.



Exquisite & Rare

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This exhibition showcases the exquisite workmanship of eighteenth-century Dublin bookbinders.
The books on display are a small selection of those collected by the bibliophile 3rd Earl of Iveagh, Benjamin Guinness (1937-92). 
The books are held in our Benjamin Iveagh Library at Farmleigh House in the Phoenix Park, and are managed for us by the Office of Public Works. 
An exhibition of the books was held in Marsh's Library in 2013. All photography is by Philip Maddock.


Hunting Stolen Books


This is the online version of an exhibition mounted in Marsh's Library.




That is how many books went missing from the shelves in the 133 years after the library was established in 1707. This exhibition tells the story of some of those books which were returned, retrieved or replaced.

When scrolling down, you can click on the thumb-nail images for fuller details about each book.

Copies of the limited-edition, beautifully-produced 80-page catalogue are available to purchase by clicking below.


Manuscript Fragments

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In early modern bindings, a variety of fragments of print and manuscript items on both vellum and paper are to be found, reused in various ways. This resource shows some of the manuscript fragments both those still in-situ and those removed from the books in which they had been used.

Many of the items shown here were taken from bindings during the tenure of Newport B. White (Librarian 1931-57) and kept as a collection in a wooden box in the Y room. Some fragments were identified with the shelfmark of the book which had originally contained them: some were not.

Reused material is still present in many of the bindings and a project to record (and, where possible, to identify) this material is ongoing.

A collaboration with Dr Niamh Pattwell of UCD is planned, focussing on the reuse of medieval material in particular, as seen in the bindings of the books in the four major collections of Marsh's.

Mapping the Treasures of Two 18th-Century Irish Libraries

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This exhibit sets the stage for the 'Mapping the Treasures' North-South Co-operation project, funded by the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

The 240 images in this project will be made available during 2019 as part of the course 'The History of Cartography' run by Dr Annaleigh Margey of DKIT.

SEFER: Jewish and Hebrew Books at Marsh’s

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The founder of Marsh’s Library, Archbishop Narcissus Marsh (1638-1713), was a clergyman and scholar. Before coming to Dublin, Marsh studied near-Eastern languages at Oxford, and developed an abiding interest in the Hebrew language and Jewish tradition.

A closer look at the books in the Library that bears his name points to Narcissus Marsh’s interest in Jewish books, as well as a broader interest in Judaism. Within the Library’s extraordinary collection of early modern works there are over 250 such volumes representing Hebrew Bibles, Talmudic texts, rabbinic writings, and Yiddish books. Of these, nearly 150 can be traced back to Marsh’s personal collection.

The images presented here give a sample of the wide-ranging collection of Jewish books in the Library. They also point to the surprisingly rich inter-cultural engagement that was taking place in 17th and 18th century Ireland.

Sole Survivors


This is an exhibition of exceptionally rare books. They exist in only one copy in the world: ours.

Visitors to Marsh’s Library often ask about our most valuable books. They usually expect us to mention ornate, expensive or particularly striking books such as our early editions of Dante’s Divine Comedy, or the first edition of Isaac Newton’s Principia Mathematica (1687).

The real treasures of Marsh’s Library are our ‘ugly ducklings’: cheap items, which frequently show severe signs of wear and tear. Produced for a mass market, they tend not to survive as they were often read or worked ‘to death’.

‘Sole Survivors’ displays 32 of the most interesting unique items in our collection. This is less than 10% of the 387 books in Marsh’s Library which survive in just one copy in the world.


‘Bram Stoker and the Haunting of Marsh's Library’ is an online version of an exhibition at Marsh’s Library, Dublin. 

It describes what the author of Dracula read in our small library as a teenager in 1866 and 1867. Click on the images below to read a short description of each item Stoker requested from the librarian.

Several books Stoker consulted here mention Transylvania and the historical figure of Dracula, but it is unlikely that his trips to this library directly inspired his most famous novel, which was published three decades later.

The books Stoker requested in Marsh’s do explain, though, why the vampires in the Dracula story are killed on 5 November. For many, this was the date on which Britain was saved from evil, with the discovery of Guy Fawkes' plot in 1605 and the invasion by William of Orange in 1688.

You can purchase the beautifully-produced exhibition catalogue via the link below. It provides further details on the context of each item on exhibition. An extended essay explains the importance of Stoker’s interest throughout his life in the books and pamphlets of the seventeenth century.

The Unicorn & The Fencing Mouse

‘The Unicorn and the Fencing Mouse’ is an exhibition of 33 books selected from the thousands in our collections in which readers or owners wrote, doodled, sketched or scribbled. The original library rules of 1713 obliged readers to sign an undertaking not to ‘take away, change ... deface, tear, cutt, Scribble on ... maim, abuse, rend or make imperfect any Book belonging to this Library.’ It is, then, ironic that more and more of those who come to read in Marsh's do so because they are interested in the marks left in the books by previous generations of owners and readers. These marks provide evidence of the ways in which men and women engaged with a range of different texts in early modern Europe.