Exhibit — "Printing the Nation: A Century of Irish Book Arts"

- (part of a series)

Location: 102 Hesburgh Library, Rare Books & Special Collections

The exhibition features books printed in Ireland from the early twentieth century to this past decade, showing the development of Irish book art over the century. A recurring theme, particularly in early publications, is the influence of early Irish art forms in the various design and decorative elements of the books. The selection of fonts, illustrations, and decorative styles were carefully considered by the printers and publishers, and this small variety of books demonstrates various aspects of the art of printing and book design practiced in Ireland.

The facsimile Book of Kells is on display, as this and other illuminated manuscripts are a touchstone of sorts for book art in Ireland, particularly at the time of the Irish Literary Revival and the Irish Language Revival.

Publishing houses featured in the exhibit include the Dun Emer Press and Cuala Press, Colm Ó Lochlainn’s Sign of the Three Candles Press, Liam Miller’s Dolmen Press, and the contemporary Stoney Road Press and Salvage Press.

While the books in this exhibit cover a range of subjects from industry to ornithology, most are literary works, and a number of the books are editions of texts from Gaelic literature, including Thomas Kinsella’s translation of Táin Bó Cuailgne (The Tain), illustrated by Louis le Brocquy.

The selection exhibited represents only part of the very extensive collection of important Irish printing presses held by the Hesburgh Libraries.

Exhibit Tours

Tours of the exhibit may be arranged for classes and other groups by contacting Aedín Clements at (574) 631-0497 or aclemen1@nd.edu.

Additional curator-led tours are open to the public at noon on the following Fridays:

  • February 24
  • March 10
  • March 31
  • April 7 [canceled]
  • April 21

This exhibit is curated by Aedín Ní Bhróithe Clements, Irish Studies Librarian and Curator of Irish Studies Collections. This and other exhibits within the Hesburgh Libraries are generously supported by the McBrien Special Collections Endowment.

All exhibits are free and open to the public during business hours.