Archbishop Marsh's Library

Marsh’s Library was opened in 1707 as the first public library in Ireland. The interior of the Library has remained unchanged for over three centuries. The library houses important book and manuscript collections. It houses more than 25,000 early-modern printed books. Its holdings in this area are widely known, but its more than 300 manuscripts from the medieval and early modern periods are comparatively unknown even among specialists.


The Benjamin Iveagh Library at Farmleigh is owned by Marshs Library, and managed by the Office of Public Works. Two items from the Benjamin Iveagh Library (an Irish Primer from the 16th century, and an edition of Giraldus Cambrensis annotated by Edmund Campion) can be accessed on this page.

The Benjamin Iveagh Library, Farmleigh OPW

The Benjamin Iveagh Library was assembled during the lifetime of the 3rd Earl of Iveagh, Benjamin Guinness (1937-1992). He was a very keen bibliophile and an astute collector of rare books, manuscripts and bindings. The collection amounts to over 5000 items and includes many important Irish books and manuscripts. Amongst the historical manuscripts in the collection is a copy of Topography of Ireland by Gerald of Wales dating from 1280, an Irish primer that Queen Elizabeth I used to learn phrases from the Irish language, as well as archive material relating to Daniel O’Connell, Sir Roger Casement and Lennox Robinson. The printed works include many early Irish imprints and rare periodicals. All of the major Irish writers are represented in the collection with first or special editions including first editions of Ulysses and Gulliver’s Travels. A particular strength of the collection is in fine Irish bindings. The library holds some of the finest examples of Irish bookbinding from the 18th, 19th and 20th centuries.

The collection was recently donated to Marsh’s Library by the Guinness family. Although owned by Marsh's Library, it will continue to be held at Farmleigh and will remain in the care of the Office of Public Works. The collection maybe consulted by appointment. Requests to consult or reproduce material from the Benjamin Iveagh Library should be directed to keeper@marshlibrary.ie