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Special Collections & Archives: Home

Overview of the service offered by Special Collections & Archives.

Special Collections & Archives

Special Collections & Archives serve as the repositories for primary source material and the secondary sources that support such primary sources. The decisions for acquisition and selection of material are based both on the unique and distinctive format and content of the materials, as well as building and enhancing existing collections. Such material and collections as listed below then facilitate research, teaching and learning by the University College Cork community as well as by the wider community.

We are open for the collections being used in student learning, teaching & research. Please see our Subject Support Guide and Outreach & Engagement Guide.

Our collection remit has a Cork / Munster focus and we are active in acquiring items particularly for: photography, travel, Irish and Anglo-Irish poetry collections.

Read more about Special Collections including how to search on the library catalogue for books and more!

Read more about Archives including how to use a descriptive list.

‚ÄčAll material is for use in Special Collections & Archives only. It cannot be used elsewhere in the library or borrowed. Most material has to be requested in advance. Contact specialcollectionsarchives@ucc.ie021 490 2282.

2023: 6 February - 6 April, 17 April - 13 May 

  • All rooms: Monday-Friday 11:00-16:30.
  • Microform & Reference Reading Room: Wednesday 11:00-19:15

11-14 April: All rooms Monday-Friday 11:00-16:30.

Closed: 17 March, 7 April, 10 April, 1 May.

We are open to UCC staff and students, and members of the public. For more information about what items must be requested and to request them via the online request form see Request Special Collections & Archives.

In addition we continue offering:

  • Scan & Deliver for Special Collections' material including items in the Reference Reading Room, Microform and items that show Special Collections by Request / Special Collections by Appointment on the library catalogue.
  • Reprographic requests for manuscripts & archival material via

Every effort will be made to fulfil scan & deliver / reprographic types of requests, but this may not always be possible due to availability, copyright restrictions, size and condition of materials.

If you have any queries relating to our collections please email This email address is monitored regularly.

Highlights of Special Collections & Archives

The Nancy McCarthy Collection

This collection is a lovely example of personal papers held in UCC Library Archives. Nancy McCarthy (1902 -1988) was born in Cork, qualified as a Chemist and ran her own shop in Douglas, Cork. 

Throughout her life Nancy played an active and influential role in the cultural life of Cork city. As a young amateur actress she performed with the Cork Drama League, meeting there the writer Frank O’Connor (then known as Michael O’Donovan) with whom she had a romantic relationship and long standing friendship. Through O’Connor Nancy met many of the artistic and literary figures of her day and as her correspondence reveals, became a friend and confident to many. Her love of rural Ireland and the Irish language led her to spend many holidays in the Cork/Kerry Gaeltacht where she became one of the circle gathered around the fireside of the Tailor and Antsy in Gougane Barra. In later life, she was a committee member of the Cork Orchestral Society, and an enthusiastic follower of the Cork Ballet Company and the Cork Film Festival.

Image: IE/BL/PP/NMC/788.

MS 59: Recipe for Curry Powder

Ms 59: 19th century manuscript book of recipes, cures and household hints, written 1829-45 [Manuscript Collection, Ms. 59]. 

The Papers of George Boole

George Boole, first professor of Mathematics at Queens College Cork (later UCC) was born on the 2 Nov 1815 in Lincoln, England. He died prematurely in 1864 at his home in Ballintemple, Co. Cork aged only 49. 

The papers preserved here were collected by Boole’s sister Maryann after his death.

In 1854 he published An investigation into the Laws of Thought, on Which are founded the Mathematical Theories of Logic and Probabilities. Boole approached logic in a new way reducing it to a simple algebra, incorporating logic into mathematics. He pointed out the analogy between algebraic symbols and those that represent logical forms. It began the algebra of logic called Boolean algebra which now finds application in computer construction, switching circuits etc.

Image: IE/BP/1/356

The Bantry Estate Collection

The estate and family papers generated by the White/Leigh-White/Shelswell-White family of Bantry House, Bantry, Co. Cork. The archive contains the formal records regarding the legal, financial and general administration of this large house and estate over a period of 300 years, and also the more personal records relating to the lives and personalities of the family who owned the estate.

Image: IE/BL/EP/B/3555

Delahoide Collecton

A collection of seven legal deeds relating to the ownership of lands and premises in 18th century Cork city and county (1736 – 1791).

The Woodford Bourne Collection

UCC Library Archives holds the business archive of Woodford Bourne & Co. Limited, Cork (wine and tea importers). 

The company can trace its origins back to a firm of wine merchants named Maziere and Sainthill which was trading in Cork as early as 1750. In the mid nineteenth century, John Woodford had a grocery shop on the Grand Parade. Woodford died during the Famine, and his widow married a Mr Bourne, an employee of Woodford's and thereafter the firm was known as Woodford, Bourne & Co. In 1869, Woodford Bourne bought the stock of the wine merchant Richard Sainthill and expanded the business to include wines. An employee of the firm James Adam Nicholson, eventually became sole owner and the firm remained in the hands of the Nicholson family for generations until its eventual sale in the 1980s. Woodford Bourne was for generations one of the icons of business in Cork City, occupying one of the premier sites on the corner of Patrick Street and Grand Parade (currently Macdonald’s). The firm also owned extensive warehouse premises on Sheares Street (currently the Mardyke bar). In the 1980s, the shop was converted to a fast-food outlet named 'Mandy's' and the premises was taken over by Macdonald's in the mid-1980s.

Image: IE/BL/BC/WB/41

The Ryan of Inch Collection

This archive represents the legacy of one of the prominent Catholic landlord families of Munster. Records of their land holding exist over a 300 year period beginning with Daniel Ryan (d.1692) who bought the former O'Fogarty lands in the parish of Inch from Edward Annesly, the Cromwellian grantee.  The Ryan Papers as they exist today are very fragmented and represent only a fraction of the original collection. The bulk of the collection concentrates on 18th century material - correspondence, rental ledgers, account books, and estate maps.

Shown here is an example of correspondence that can be found amongst landed estate collections.

Image: IE/BL/EP/R/601

Irish Language Manuscript: An Account of the Irish Wars of Thomond, 1194-1355

Ls 16: An account of the Irish Wars of Thomond, 1194-1355, known as "Caithréim Thoirdhealbhaigh," composed by John Rory Magrath c. 1460. [Manuscript Collection, Ls.16]


John Sibthorp's Flora Graeca

Flora Graeca was a publication of plants from Greece in the late 18th century. The botanical descriptions and illustrations were both of scientific and horticultural interest. 

Sibthorp, John. Flora Graeca: sive Plantarum rariorum historia quas in Provinciis aut insulis Graeciae legit, investigavit, et depingi curavit. Londini: Typis Richardi Taylor et Socii [etc.], 1806-40. [Manuscript Collection, U.364]

Great Book of Ireland: Folio Opening for John Montague's "Mount Eagle"

The Great Book of Ireland is a single volume vellum manuscript with original work of 121 artists, 143 poets and 9 composers. It was created in Dublin between 1989-91.

Information about The Great Book of Ireland.

John Montague (1929-2016) was born in Brooklyn and grew up in Co. Tyrone. He graduated from UCD and later studied at Yale and Berkeley where he met Robert Penn Warren, Gary Snyder and Allen Ginsberg. In 1958 Dolmen Press published his first collection of poetry, Forms of Exile. In 1972 John became an assistant lecturer in the Department of English at UCC, retiring as an Associate Professor in 1988. In 1972 John also published The Rough Field, a poetic analysis of Ulster tensions and in particular an unrepresented Ulster Catholic population. Following his retirement from UCC, John’s many publications included story stories, novellas, memoirs, as well as several more collections of poetry and he was appointed first Ireland Professor of Poetry (1988-2001).

Barrie Cooke (1931-2014) shares the folio opening with John Montague. Cooke was an English-born Irish abstract expressionist painter.

Endpapers to Simon Pelloutier's Histoire des Celtes

UCC Library acquired Henri d’Arbois de Jubainville's collection in the early 20th century. Henri d’Arbois de Jubainville was appointed to the first chair in Celtic studies in the Collège de France in 1882, and tutored J. M. Synge in Old Irish during his years in Paris. Jubainville’s many publications ranged very widely over law, paleography, history, language and literature. His library came to the University in 1914. These wonderful block-printed endpapers are unusual if used in an 18th century French book unless the item is bound in Alsace. Henri d'Arbois de Jubainville was from Lorraine which is quite close to Alsace. On the endpapers are Arbois de Jubainville's bookplate and the Robert Gibbings designed bookplate of the Library of University College Cork.

Pelloutier, Simon. Histoire des Celtes, et particulièrement des Gaulois et des Germains: depuis les tems fabuleux, jusqu’à la prise de Rome par les Gaulois. Paris: Quillau, 1771. [Arbois de Jubainville Collection]

W. B. Yeats' Poems (1895)

Poems is bound in linen cloth and gilded on the front and the rear boards, depicting a winged warrior standing on a writhing serpent with Art Nouveau floral designs on either side of him. Granville Fell designed the panels and of it Yeats said "The man who made this cover made a beautiful design, which I saw at an exhibition, but after I saw it Dent had spoilt him, with all kinds of oddjobs & when he did this the spirit had gone out of him. I hate this expression-less angel of his." 

Fred Holland Day (1864-1933) was an American photographer and publisher. Day co-founded and self-financed the publishing firm of Copeland and Day (1893-1899) which published c.100 titles. The firm was influenced by the Arts and Crafts movement.

Poems is one of the c.70 first edition Yeats items Eamonn and Anne Cantwell donated in 2003.

Yeats, W.B. Poems. London: T.Fisher Unwin; Boston: Copeland and Day, 1895. [Cantwell Collection]