Online Biographies

There are excellent online sources for biographies of Irish people no longer living.   Here, for what it’s worth, are some of the sources of Irish biography:

The Dictionary of Irish Biography: This is available to the Notre Dame community through the library’s catalog.  If the link doesn’t work, go to the Library’s website, select the Databases tab, and find the Dictionary.

In addition to searching for people by name, you can search by place, dates, occupation and even by free text which means you can find any words occuring in the text.  For example “Hunger strike”, “slavery”,  “philanthropy” all yield lists of names.  Biographies are added all the time and at this point new additions include people who died in 2005 and 2006.

Oxford Dictionary of National Biography: Also a subscription, this has been around far longer than the Irish one, and includes many biographies of Irish people. It is “the national record of men and women who have shaped British history” so while there is no entry under “Haughey”, for example, Irish people from earlier centuries such as Aogán Ó Rathaille, or born in Northern Ireland, such as Siobhán McKenna, or whose career was largely in the UK, are included.

There are also websites freely available to all.  Those I know about and use frequently are, and the Dictionary of Ulster Biography.

All kinds of people associated with the Irish language are included in, the digital version of the multi-volume Beatháisnéis.  Ricorso is mainly a bibliographic database but includes a short biographic summary of each Irish writer. Biographies from the whole province of Ulster are included in the Dictionary of Ulster Biography.

As far as I know, Ricorso is the only one of all the sources I mentioned that includes people who are still living.  It is worth remembering also that writers in this database are not only literary authors but people who have written on many subjects.

Ainm = Name

Beatháisnéis = Biography


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