The Benjamin Iveagh Library was donated to Marsh’s Library by the Guinness family. The collection was the work of the 3rd Earl of Iveagh, Benjamin Guinness (1937-1992) who was a very keen bibliophile and an astute collector of rare books, manuscripts and bindings. There are over 5000 items, including many Irish books and manuscripts. Amongst the historical manuscripts in the collection is a copy of Topography of Ireland by Gerald of Wales dating from 1280, an Irish primer that Queen Elizabeth I used to learn phrases from the Irish language, as well as archival material relating to Daniel O’Connell, Sir Roger Casement and Lennox Robinson.
The printed works include many early Irish imprints and rare periodicals. All of the major Irish writers are represented in the collection with first or special editions including first editions of Ulysses and Gulliver’s Travels. A particular strength of the collection is in fine Irish bindings. The library holds some of the finest examples of Irish bookbinding from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.
The library will continue to be held at Farmleigh and will remain in the care of the Office of Public Works. Applications to carry out research or to reproduce material from the library should be addressed to the Keeper of Marsh’s Library in the first instance.