National Library of Ireland


The National Library of Ireland, which was established in 1877, houses the country's collection of literary and illustrative works of Irish interest. The aim of the Library is to collect, conserve, and present these works, which include collections of printed books, periodicals, manuscripts, prints and drawings, photographs and maps.

The Library's collections of books, manuscripts, prints and drawings, maps, photographs, newspapers, music, ephemera and genealogical material comprises the most comprehensive collection of Irish documentary material in the world. From its foundation, the Library has endeavored to collect all material of Irish interest or Irish origin published through the ages and throughout the world. It is a legal deposit library of all works published in Ireland.

The Genealogical Office, the Office of the Chief Herald in Kildare Street, and the National Photographic Archive in Temple Bar are all part of the National Library.


The Library does not lend books and reading is done in the various reading rooms. It's printed collections include:

The Manuscripts collection contains a large and varied collection of manuscripts, of which the main components are Gaelic manuscripts, landed estate archives, maps, political material, and literary papers. The Manuscripts Reading Room is at 2/3 Kildare Street.

Its visual collections consist of:

The Library also makes resources digitally available.

Genealogy service

The Library's Genealogy Service is designed to assist all of those who wish to research their family history in Ireland. The Service is freely available to all personal callers to the Library. For first time researchers the Genealogy Service is an ideal starting point, allowing them the opportunity to discuss their research with experienced genealogists and Library staff, ready access to important finding aids and useful information panels. More experienced family historians are also welcome to avail of the Service as, from time to time, they may need assistance with on-going research.

Office of the Chief Herald of Ireland

The Chief Herald of Ireland is the State authority on heraldic matters. The functions of the office are the granting and confirming of coats of arms to individuals and corporate bodies. All arms granted are recorded in the Register of Arms which can be viewed by application through the Manuscripts Reading Room of the National Library.

Copying services

A copying service is offered by the Library. There are also a range of self-service copying facilities available to readers.

Exhibitions and events

The National Library mounts exhibitions of material from its collections. It also has a number of travelling exhibitions available for loan. Information on current exhibitions is available on it's website.

The Library hosts a wide variety of events including public lectures, poetry and music recitals, theatre, children's storytelling and creative workshops. More information on events is available here.

National Photographic Archive

The National Photographic Archive is located in Meeting House Square in Temple Bar. It houses a regular programme of exhibitions based on the Library’s photographic collections.


The National Library provides a number of tours of the library each week. No booking is required..


The Main Reading Room and the Manuscripts Reading Room are open from:

  • 9.30 am to 7.45 pm, Monday to Wednesday
  • 9.30 am to 4.45 pm, Thursday to Friday
  • 9.30 am to 12.45 pm on Saturday.

Further information on opening hours is available here.

You will need to present a Reader's Ticket to access all collections in the Library, with the exception of the Newspaper Section, which offers a one-day pass.


Admission to the Library and the National Photographic Archive is free.

Admission to the Library's exhibitions is free.

Information on the cost of copying services is available here.

How to apply

You can apply for a Reader's Ticket in the Main Reading Room. You will need to bring with you some current photographic identification. Find out more about Reader's Tickets here.

The National Library can make photocopies, printouts, digital images and prints of items in its Collection. Find out more about ordering copies here.

Where to apply

National Library of Ireland

Kildare Street
Dublin 2

Tel:(01) 603 0200
Fax:(01) 661 2523

Page edited: 3 May 2016