Thomas Francis O'Rahilly Papers

Scope and Content

Collection of Irish manuscripts and printed books annotated by the distinguished Celtic Scholar, T.F. O'Rahilly (1883-1953). A relatively small assemblage of material, the books are extensively annotated by O'Rahilly and include a range of titles on Irish dialect, grammar and Irish Literature, dating from c 1849-1937. Among the authors featured are Brian Merriman (1749-1805), Joseph Henry Lloyd, Peter O'Leary (1839-1920), John O'Tuomy, Pierce Fitzgerald and John Clarach MacDonald. An annotated draft of the 1937 Constitution of Ireland is also to be found within the collection in addition to a manuscript inscription from Eamon DeValera thanking O'Rahilly for his assistance on it. The collection also includes a miscellaneous series of other papers and correspondence. Of the correspondence can be found 13 letters from D.J. O'Sullivan to O'Rahilly, 1926-28, regarding O'Sullivan's edition to the Bunting Collection of Irish Music (QUB MS/4). Other correspondents include M. O'Cathain, A. Martin Freeman, Paul Grosjean, James Hogan and Liam Price.

Administrative / Biographical History

Leading authority on Irish dialects and mediaeval and modern Irish, born in Listowel, Co. Kerry in 1883. Educated at the School of Irish Learning in Dublin, graduating with a degree from the Royal University of Ireland in 1905. Member of the Royal Irish Academy and Professor of Irish at Trinity College Dublin (1919-29), research Professor of Celtic languages, University College Cork (1929-35) and later at University College Dublin (1935-41), Director of the School of Celtic Studies at the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies (1942-47). Founder and Editor of the journal, 'Gadelica'.

Principal publications included 'Early Irish History and Mythology' (1946), 'Irish Dialects, Past and Present' (1932), 'The Two St. Patricks' (1942) in addition to a series of anthologies of Irish Verse published between 1916 and 1927. He died in Dublin in November 1953.

Access Information

Open to consultation. Includes material in English and Irish.


Description compiled by Clare McVeigh (RASCAL Project), entered by Deirdre Wildy, Special Collections

Other Finding Aids

Details available in hard-copy format. See 'Calendar of Manuscripts Western and Oriental' for details (MS11). This calendar is available for consultation in the Special Collections Reading Room.

Conditions Governing Use

Subject to condition and copyright restrictions

Appraisal Information

The collection is particularly strong for its emphasis on the Irish language and for reflecting O'Rahilly's thoughts and comments on the subject through his copious annotations which are detailed throughout the works to be found.

Custodial History

The O'Rahilly Papers were bequeathed by Mrs Mary B. O'Rahilly, widow of the late T.F. O'Rahilly (1883-1953), to Queen's University Belfast. It is unclear when the collection arrived in Belfast.