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University College Dublin Library

Belfield, Dublin 4
Evelyn Flanagan, Special Collections Librarian
00 353 1 7167149
353 716 7149
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UCD Library's historical collections are made up of the library of Catholic University of Ireland which included the Catholic University's medical school, the library of the Royal College of Science for Ireland and the library of the Albert National Agricultural Training Institution. It also contains collections which were donated to UCD. UCD Library Special Collections contains all material from these institutions which were published before 1900. This material cannot be borrowed. Later material is held in the James Joyce library and in the Health Sciences library. This material can be borrowed. Some older medical journals are held in storage.


Special Collections, which is based in the James Joyce Library in Belfield, contains many resources which are pertinent to the study of the history of medicine, in both print and manuscript formats. Topics covered include medicine in Ireland, Irish hospitals, medicinal plants, tuberculosis, health spas and also material on the history of the Catholic University School of Medicine. These topics are covered in monographs, journals, pamphlets, reference works and in manuscripts. The Special Collections reading room contains many catalogues and bibliographies of printed books relating to the history of medicine.

Some medical journals are held in Special Collections. The most heavily consulted of these is the Dublin Journal of Medical and Chemical Science which was founded in March 1832 by Robert John Kane. This journal underwent various title changes in the 19th century, but has been known as the Irish Journal of Medical Science since 1922. An almost complete run of this journal from its inception until 1922 is held in Special Collections. Later years are held in the Health Sciences Library.

Other interesting journals held in Special Collections are the Dublin Medical Press, volumes 1-6 and the Dublin Hospital Gazette, 1845-46 and 1854-55. Also, some of the articles published in the journal Atlantis, which was produced by the Catholic University of Ireland were of a medical nature. For example, Volume 1, 1858 included an article entitled ‘Observations on the motions and sounds of the human heart during life, as witnessed in the case of Mr. Groux.’

There are several other books in Special collections with a Catholic University of Ireland binding. Special Collections also holds some medical texts which were originally part of the library of the Museum of Irish Industry, as can be seen from their library stamps. Special Collections also hold many pamphlets which are pertinent to the study of the history of medicine. Some of these pamphlets were once part of UCD library’s main collection but because of their ephemeral nature and, in some cases, rarity, they were moved to special collections.

Possibly the most interesting item on this topic is a manuscript by Sir William Wilde in his own hand entitled The History of Irish Medicine and Popular cures. This was bequeathed to the University in 1926.

Special Collections also contains a small collection of books relating to veterinary medicine from the late 19th century.

The Health Science Library holds items relating to hospital histories, medical histories, medical texts as well as some journals, pamphlets and reference materials which have been collected over the past 154 years since the establishment of the medical school in Cecilia Street.

In terms of official publications, the most comprehensive collections are held in the James Joyce Library, though because the Health Sciences library also actively collected over the years, there is some overlap between what is held in both libraries.

UCD library is a copyright library which means that it is entitled to a copy, free of charge, of every item published in Ireland. This includes all Official Publications and because of this we have very comprehensive runs of this type of material since the foundation of the state.

Reports from the Taoiseach’s office, government committee reports along with hundreds of reports from the Department of Health as well as reports from the various health boards have been accumulated.

Subject Strengths:
History of Anatomy; History of Botany; History of Gynecology and Obstetrics; History of Hospitals; History of Medicine; History of Midwifery; History of Physiology; History of Public Health; History of Reproductive Health; History of Surgery; History of Veterinary Medicine; History of the Practice of Medicine
Last Updated:
20 Sep 2016