29 August-National Library of Ireland

The National Library of Ireland is located on Kildare Street, Dublin. The Library is an autonomous cultural institution whose mission is ‘to collect, preserve, promote and make accessible the documentary and intellectual record of the life of Ireland and to contribute to the provision of access to the larger universe of recorded knowledge’. During its lifetime various government departments have had responsibility for the Library. Today the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht has overall responsibility for the Library.

Like many other institutions the National Library of Ireland has its origins in the Royal Dublin Society (RDS). The RDS was founded as the Dublin Society in 1731 by the authors Thomas Prior of Rathdowney and Samuel Madden of Dublin. The Society was founded to ‘promote the development of arts, agriculture, industry and science in Ireland’. Over a hundred years after its foundation the RDS decided to provide better access for the public to its library resources. Negotiations followed between the RDS, the Commissioner of Public Works in Ireland and the Department of Science and Art in London. These negotiations eventually led to the passing of the Dublin Science and Art Museum Act in 1877. The passing of the Act enabled the establishment of the National Library of Ireland.

A public competition to design a building to house the Library was held. Following the competition the contract to design the building was awarded to Cork born architect Thomas Newenham Deane. The foundation stone for the building beside Leinster House was laid by the Prince of Wales, the future King Edward VI of England, on April 10th 1885.

The building took five years to complete and was opened at a public ceremony by the then Lord Lieutenant of Ireland, the Earl of Zetland. During the opening ceremony the architect Thomas Newenham Deane received a knighthood.

The building which houses the National Library of Ireland was officially opened in the year 1890 On This Day.

National Library of Ireland by Nico Kaiser on 2012-10-22 13:30:45

NLI photo

Photo by National Library of Ireland on The Commons


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