Acquisition of Bonar Law Collection

The Bonar Law Collection, acquired by the National Library of Ireland, will be housed in the Boole Library at UCC and can be accessed by researchers and members of the public by contacting UCC Library Special Collections and Archives team.

The collection is is being housed in UCC Library as part of a loan agreement following discussions between the National Library of Ireland (NLI) and the Library of University College Cork (UCC), 

The Collection is the most complete visual record of Ireland, in map and print form, ever assembled by an expert private collector. The Collection comprises close to 10,000 maps and approximately 9,000 prints, which include caricature prints and ballad sheets, many of which are unique to this collection.

Speaking in UCC, An Tánaiste, Micheál Martin, said:

“This remarkable and vast array of maps, sea charts and prints of Ireland represents the best collection of its kind anywhere in the world. It is unrivalled in the holdings of any public institution, including the British Library and the Library of Congress.

“I am delighted that we have been able to preserve this valuable asset. It offers a fascinating insight not only into Irish geographical history, but also into the changing political landscape of the last two hundred years, for the benefit of the State and for the people of Ireland.”

Minister Catherine Martin, said:

The collection represents a life’s work of study and expert knowledge of maps, especially maps of or relating to Ireland, and topographical prints. It is a testament to Andrew Bonar Law and his family, that such a unique historical record exists, and that it can now be preserved for the public good and will remain in Ireland. 

“I’m glad that my Department was able to fund this acquisition which will hopefully be available to view in its physical format following conservation assessment after 2025, with digital content available to view as early as this year.  I wish UCC and the NLI teams the very best with this exciting work.

Dr Audrey Whitty, Director of the National Library of Ireland, said:

“We are grateful to Minister Martin and her Department for the opportunity to make this acquisition, and we are glad to be collaborating with UCC, given their unrivalled scholarship and excellence in historical geography.

“It is a major priority for us is to grow and to further strengthen our connections across all of Ireland and we are delighted to enter into a loan-arrangement with UCC that allows the collection to be placed in Cork.

“The excellent condition of the material in the Bonar Law Collection means that it will be an essential part of the NLI collection of printed maps and topographical prints, and a foundation collection for future digitisation projects, programmes and exhibitions.”

Professor John O’Halloran, President of UCC said:

“Through digital technology and innovative cartographic techniques, UCC research staff will activate the potential of the Bonar Law Collection to better understand how Ireland has changed, not just physically but socially, politically and ideologically through the ages. Through our award-winning Cork University Press Atlas Series and related documentaries, UCC has a strong track record in ensuring public engagement with Irish history and culture.”