Dictionary of Irish Biography
Published on 6th September 2021
‘…the RIA’s Dictionary of Irish Biography is an epoch-making event in the history of Irish scholarship…’ , Seamus Heaney.
The Dictionary of Irish Biography (DIB), a project of the Royal Irish Academy, outlines the lives at home and overseas of prominent individuals born in Ireland, north and south, and the noteworthy Irish careers of those born outside Ireland. The online edition covers nearly 11,000 lives, from James Ussher to James Joyce, from Eliza Alicia Lynch to Elizabeth Bowen, and spans over 1,500 years of Irish history from earliest times to modern days.
First launched in 2009, the Dictionary of Irish Biography (DIB) moved to an ‘open access’ model in March this year, making its entire database of entries freely available to all users for the first time. This new open access website was built by the RIA with funding from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Dublin City Libraries.
This comprehensive and authoritative biographical dictionary is an indispensable work of reference for anyone interested in Ireland’s past or in biography. The entries are checked for factual accuracy, are based on recently available sources, and are easily accessible to the general reader. The information contained in it is widely applicable to the Leaving Certificate History syllabus, and is also relevant to students for other areas of coursework, such as English, Irish, music, religion and the arts. The website has a straightforward and accessible user interface, with options to browse by entry or contributor, or to search by keyword such as the name of a town or village. It also allows for a more precise searches using dates of birth and death, religion, gender, occupation, and so on.
Compiled by over 700 contributors, the DIB regularly publishes new entries on important figures who have died in recent times, and on ‘missing persons’: previously overlooked figures deserving fresh interest. The living however are not included. The biographies range in length from a relatively short 200 words to a more comprehensive 15,000 words. Conventional occupations such as politics, sport, academia, medicine and the military are all well represented, as well as more unusual ‘careers’ such as that of Mary Young (c.1704-41) ‘notorious pickpocket and head of a criminal gang’. There is also a blog section featuring themed essays which gather together information from the biographical entries, such as Bloomsday 2021: banned authors in the DIB
In addition to the DIB, we also have a number of other excellent digital resources to suit all age groups: from primary school to university; from early years to life-long learning. So if you’re looking for accurate and reliable resources to help with homework or with essays, projects and assignments, or if you simply want the opportunity to browse at your leisure through trustworthy sources on a wide range of topics, we have something for you. Have a look on our website for a full list of our online resources.
Dublin City Libraries have blog posts for more information on the wide range of reference and research tools: including art and music, English dictionaries, reference dictionaries, language learning, and other encyclopaedia.
If you have any queries or if you registered online and can’t access any of these resources, you can also contact us at [email protected].
Submitted by Reader/Bibliographic Services.