The collection comprises c.300 items and is particularly strong in Irish Studies, Music, Literature and history.
There are a number of items with direct Cork connections such as a hand-inscribed copy of Irish minstrels and musicians by Capt. Francis O'Neill (1848-1936). The library also contains a pristine, signed presentation copy of A Queen of Men by William O'Brien.
There are three books which derive from the library of Lady 'Speranza Wilde, Oscar Wilde's mother. They are:
In addition, other important association copies include volumes which belonged to:
The collection prefix before the call number is: ILS.
The collection is closed.
In February 2008 the Executive Committee of the Irish Literary Society decided to donate its extant collection to the University. UCC Library acknowledges the role of Prof. Emeritus Padraig O Riain in securing the collection for UCC.
The Irish Literary Society was established in London in 1892. Among its founders were WB Yeats, Douglas Hyde. TW Rolleston, Francis Fahy and other leaders of the Irish Literary Revival. The object of the Society was to promote the appreciation of Irish literature and culture and to provide a forum for intellectual and social activities in connection with these interests. The Irish Literary Society Library was built from the end of the 19th century and through the beginning of the 20th century.
Among its founders were leaders of the Irish Literary Revival: WB Yeats, Douglas Hyde, Maud Gonne and Standish James O'Grady. Other eminent members included Oscar Wilde, Bram Stoker and Lord Northcliffe. The inaugral meeting was held in the Caledonian Hotel in London on 12th May 1892. The new Society attracted members of different political and religious opinions, although open discussion of these subjects were forbidden in the rules.
The Society held Gaelic classes even before the Gaelic League was formed in 1893 and helped to bring into being the Irish Texts Society in 1898 and the Irish Folk Song Society in 1904. It sponsored the Petrie Collection of Irish Music and the twelve-volume Irish library of history and literature published between 1893-1904. It brought Irish actors to London in 1903 & 1904, to present plays by Yeats, Synge and others.