National Heritage Week 2021: The Bolton Library Project

by Diarmuid O’Callaghan, Library Assistant

For National Heritage Week 2021, we are showcasing several of the rare books from The Bolton Library, illustrating the wide scope of the collection and highlighting interesting elements such as the incredible title pages, bookbindings and manuscript waste.



The famous Bolton Library came to the Glucksman Library in 2016 from the Church of Ireland in Cashel, Co. Tipperary. It is a collection of 12,000 printed books, manuscripts and incunabula of exceptional academic and bibliographic importance. First accumulated in the 18th Century by Archbishop William King (1650-1729) & Bishop Theophilus Bolton, (1678-1744) it encompasses a range of different topics such as theology, literature, science, technology, medicine and the history of Ireland. It contains many items of rarity, some not recorded anywhere else in the world and some not recorded anywhere else in Ireland.


Cover of I.17.14


For National Heritage Week 2021, we have created an online exhibition to showcase several of the well-known works of the collection, from authors and publishers such as Robert Burton (1577-1640), Jonathan Swift (1667-1745) & Jehan (Jean) Petit. (active 1492–1530) Each books importance to us is not limited to its content, and the exhibition brings a spotlight to a number of other elements of the library.  The intricate bookbinding techniques, the history uncovered in manuscript waste and the enormous detail in the illustrations of a title page are all of significance in our full understanding of the collection.


Close-up of the title page of H.2.10


The Bolton Library is of exceptional academic and bibliographical significance and is one of the most important libraries in Ireland. The collection presents numerous possibilities for research and historical study. As of right now there are over 5,000 books catalogued on the UL Library database which is available to all of those interested in the books. The Bolton Library team have been keen to promote any new findings or points of interest and have done so regularly through this Special Collections & Archives UL Blog, which we would encourage you to follow.


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