NUI Galway to be new home of Henry Library

Monday, 10 July 2006

James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway, has taken custody of approximately 4,500 volumes which form the Henry Library. The books, which were collected by The Reverend Joseph Henry D.D and bequeathed to the Tuam Diocese on his death in 1885, are a unique collection of 16-19th century books.

An agreement has been signed by Bishop Richard Henderson, Bishop of Tuam, Killala & Achonry, (on behalf of the Diocesan Council) and NUI Galway which allows for the transfer of the books from Galway's St Nicholas's Collegiate Church to the University on long-term loan.

The Reverend Joseph Henry was born in 1821 and came from a distinguished family in Tuam, Co. Galway. He was son of Hugh Robert Henry of Toghermore House and of Elizabeth, daughter of Sir Robert Langrishe, Baronet. A graduate of Trinity College, Dublin, he was ordained in 1852 and served in Keady, Co. Mayo before going to Lima, Peru where he spent the next 20 years as Consular Chaplain. From 1876, until he died in 1885, Dr. Henry served the Church of All Saints in Blackrock, Co. Dublin.

His collection is a great example of a late Victorian library. As well as examples of Bibles in several languages, Biblical commentaries and theology, there are books on history, geography, topography, Classical Civilisation, literature and travel. The majority of the books are of the 18th and 19th centuries but the 16th and 17th centuries are also represented.

Marie Reddan, Librarian, NUI Galway, said, "We are honoured that the Diocese has considered our library as a home for this collection and it will add immensely to the rare collections we already house. However, our intention is not only to undertake the stewardship and preservation of the books but also to make the Henry Library accessible to the wider community".

The books were originally housed in the Synod Hall in St. Mary's Cathedral, Tuam and more recently St. Nicholas' Collegiate Church, Galway where they became part of the St. Nicholas' Library and Heritage Project. One of the aims of the project – a FÁS project which was begun in 1990 – was to preserve the books for future generations. Before this work began a number of trainees underwent a course in book conservation at Marsh's Library, Dublin. Since then the books have been cleaned, waxed, indexed and preparation of a general catalogue of the material has taken place.

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