The Derry and Raphoe Diocesan Library
“This collection is one of the most significant in Ireland. It is important that these texts are preserved so future generations can understand the history of the City. We are delighted to work with the University on this project and we commend their interest, expertise and support." The Right Reverend Ken Good, Bishop of Derry and Raphoe.
Welcome to the Derry and Raphoe Diocesan Library website where you can explore some of the unique historical, conservation and educational aspects of this fascinating collection which has been termed, ‘the Cinderella of the book world’.
The Library, as it is today, is the combined collections of both the Derry Diocesan Library and the Raphoe Diocesan Library which were amalgamated in 1881. The books range in date from 1480 to 1900, and include the libraries of many bishops of the North West, notably Ezekiel Hopkins, who was bishop at the time of the Siege of Derry, 1689.
The Derry and Raphoe Diocesan Library is owned by the Church of Ireland but is now housed in the purpose-built Rare Books Room in the University of Ulster, Magee campus Library.
Digital access to some elements of the collection, such as the three manuscript catalogues is provided via this website. However, due to the fragile condition of many of the books, physical access to the collection may be limited in order to protect the books from further damage. Anyone wishing to discuss access to the collection should contact the Subject Librarian, Faculty of Arts, Frank Reynolds using the contact details provided at: Accessing the Collection.
RTÉ Broadcast The Derry and Raphoe Diocesan Library Project, which was largely funded by the Heritage Lottery Fund, has now finished. A report broadcast in July 2009 by RTÉ’s Nationwide programme gives a fascinating overview of the work involved in rescuing these historic books. The report begins at the 17 minute 45 second mark. View the seven minute clip.