Sunday, October 17, 2010

The Jackie Clarke Library and Archives, Ballina, Mayo

This is one of the most important Irish collections in the world. Its breadth and importance, once only known to its creator, is now being made available to all.

The Jackie Clarke Library and Archive contains over 100,000 items including many unique documents that scholars had believed to be lost - sole surviving copies of publications, rare handbills and proclamations, unpublished manuscripts and political writings. The sheer range of this collection is breathtaking. It was put together during the lifetime of one man, Jackie Clarke, (1928-2000). Spanning nearly 400 years of Irish history, its earliest documents date from the early 1600s, its final documents were collected by Jackie Clarke in 2000, the year of his death.

This treasure trove of items can be compared with the scale of other collectors around the world, but in Irish terms, in the era it was collected, Jackie Clarke stands alone as the single most important private collector; an Irishman collecting Irish history for his own people. Due to the generosity of Mrs Ann Clarke who has gifted in perpetuity her husband’s library and archives to Mayo County Council, the Irish nation and the world will have access to this unique and priceless collection.

The Jackie Clarke Library and Archive, now under the stewardship of Mayo County Council, will become an education and cultural centre of international significance. Mayo County Council has embraced the opportunity of showcasing this library and archives to the highest international standards. Mayo County Council has purchased a superb location to house the Jackie Clarke Library and Archives; the former Provincial Bank was designed by Thomas Manly Deane, architect of some of Ireland’s most impressive buildings including the National Library of Ireland. The Jackie Clarke Library and Archives will be a world-class facility for those seeking ‘an authentic experience’ in Ireland.

The Library and Archives is currently closed to the public. Cataloguing of this vast collection is ongoing. Phase one of the restoration work on the former Provincial bank, the new home for the Jackie Clarke Library and Archives will commence in 2010.

See a Youtube presentation on the colletion here:


Sinéad McCoole
The Jackie Clarke Library and Archives
Pearse Street, Ballina, Co Mayo.
Phone: +353 (0)96 70833

At 7pm on Thursday, 21 October 2010 at Glucksman Ireland House NYU, Sinéad McCoole, Curator of the Jackie Clarke Library and Archive in Mayo, discusses the extraordinary yet reticent man who built a collection of over ten thousand items spanning four hundred years.

In accordance with his wishes, his widow Anne Clarke gave the Jackie Clarke Library and Archives in perpetuity to Mayo Co. Council on condition that the collection remains permanently in Ballina. The material spans 400 years. The earliest item dates from 1617. It includes many important and rare books on the history of Ireland, manuscripts, photographs, legal papers, pamphlets, hand-bills, film, political autograph books, letters, cartoons, maps and proclamations. It will be an important resource for scholars and writers and a significant addition to the cultural tourism of Mayo.

Historian Sinéad McCoole, curator of the collection and author of Hazel: A Life of Lady Lavery and Guns and Chiffon: Women Revolutionaries and Kilmainham Gaol, and Vincent Virga, picture-editor, author of "Cartographia: Mapping Civilizations" and co-author of "Eyes of the Nation: A Visual History of the United States," discuss the importance of the archive locally and nationally.

Free admission to Members of Glucksman Ireland House and to all students/faculty with a valid NYU I.D. card. For non-members: $10 donation at the door. In order to ensure a seat at events, please RSVP to 212-998-3950 or email

No comments: