Irish History Online update

By Juliana Adelman

As many of you already know, Irish History Online is a database of secondary literature which was available for free and which has been run jointly with the Royal Historical Society’s database on British history.  The RHS has moved to make their database a subscription service.  However, through the efforts of some individual Irish historians and with the support of the RIA, Irish History Online will remain free.  There will be changes to how it is updated and maintained and the project is currently being run by a board of volunteers and without funding.  Below I’ve pasted in the circular which this new board has sent to most of the lists, in case you have not yet seen it.

Irish History Online: update on future plans. November 2009

Since the online version first went live in 2004, Irish History Online
( has proved to be a highly useful and reliable
bibliographic reference resource for researchers and students in the
field of Irish history. The database currently contains almost 70,000
records. The good news is that despite serious funding setbacks in 2009
Irish History Online will continue to be available online as a free
resource into the future.

Drawing on decades of voluntary work by compilers and editors of
‘Writings in Irish history’, the compilation of Irish History Online
continues to rely principally on the work of volunteers. The creation and
publication of an online version from earlier printed bibliographies, and
its continuation as an online resource to the present time, was made
possible through project grants from the Irish Research Council for the
Humanities and Social Sciences, 2003-6 and 2006-9. In 2003-6, Dr
Anthony McCormack and Ms Mary Mooney created the online database
and input retrospective records from ‘Writings in Irish History’
1938-2002. In 2006-9, Dr Frank Cullen enhanced the bibliographic
coverage of the history of the Irish overseas, expanded other aspects
of the bibliography and input data for more recent publications. During
both these phases the compilation of data on new publications was done
by Ciaran Nicholson (TCD) and Máirín Cassidy (UCD), working in a
voluntary capacity. The project continues to benefit from the support of
the Royal Irish Academy Committee for Historical Sciences.
Irish History Online ( is currently faced with a
serious funding crisis. The second phase of funding from the Irish
Research Council for the Humanities and Social Sciences came to an
end on 1 October 2009, and no new source of funding has yet been
Since continuity of this online resource is of paramount importance,
plans have now been formulated by the small team of volunteers who
comprise the Irish History Online Management Committee to maintain
the existing database and to continue to update the database with new
bibliographic data. From January 2010 Irish History Online will be hosted
on the Royal Irish Academy server in Dublin and the database will come
under the auspices of the Royal Irish Academy Library. Irish History
Online will continue to seek funding to cover essential costs. Work is
currently in progress on transferring all data relating to Irish History to
the new host server. Although different software will be used, and the
web interface will be in a different style, the same data will be available.
The existing domain name will continue to be
used and Irish History Online will continue to be available as a free
service to users.
Our partner project, the Royal Historical Society Bibliography, has faced
a similar funding crisis and has opted to change to a new publication
model. From 1 January 2010 a new Bibliography of British and Irish
History (in partnership with the Royal Historical Society, the Institute of
Historical Research, and Brepols publishers), will be offered as a
subscription-only service. Further details are available on
The divergent paths being taken by the two projects means that Irish
History Online will no longer form the Irish component of the new
Bibliography of British and Irish History. The same retrospective Irish
data will be available on both databases. We are currently exploring
ways of ensuring that maximum cooperation between the two projects
will continue for the future, particularly in the area of new data
In recent years the RHS Bibliography has produced a range of
important innovations, including item-to-item linkage to digitised copies
of certain works; combining results from the database with EndNote, the
bibliographic and footnoting software, and other inter-operable
resources. The new Bibliography of British and Irish History, working in
association with Brepols, plans to further enhance these web-based
elements of the bibliographic service it provides. In its new format Irish
History Online will provide fewer of these additional features in 2010,
concentrating simply on providing accurate and up-to-date bibliographic
Irish History Online Management Committee:
Ms Maureen Cassidy, compiler
Mr Ciaran Nicholson, TCD, compiler
Dr Bernadette Cunningham, RIA, editor
Dr Frank Cullen, NUIM, advisory editor
Prof Jacqueline Hill, NUIM, convenor
November 2009


One Response to “Irish History Online update”

  1. Irish History Online update « Pue's Occurrences | Museum And Art Says:

    […] post: Irish History Online update « Pue's Occurrences Connect and […]

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