NUI Galway Receives Major Book Collection about the Williamite War

The Morrissey Collection will be included in the Special Collections of the Library and located in the Hardiman Research Building.
May 24 2016 Posted: 09:12 IST

The University will mark the bequest with a public lecture on the Battle of Aughrim 1691

NUI Galway has received a significant donation of books about the Williamite War (1689-91) in Ireland and its aftermath from Colman Morrissey, son of a graduate of the University.

Over a period of 45 years Colman assembled the collection of over 200 volumes which contains all the known contemporary accounts of the war. For example, the collection includes a copy (one of only 200) of John T Gilbert’s 1892 edition of the early eighteenth century manuscript ‘The Light to the Blind’. A highlight of the collection is a List of Claims  printed in 1701 of the Court  held in Chichester House (now the Bank of Ireland on College Green) Dublin where lands confiscated from the Irish Catholic losers were granted to the winners. This massive tome contains details of the former owners and the actual judgements on the claims written by hand and so is a unique record of the land confiscations and transfers.

Other highlights include: the first biography of William of Orange/William III published in 1703 in original binding; the first biography of King James II by J S Clarke published in 1816 also in original binding; the English 1759 translation of the Memoirs of the Duke of Berwick (natural son of James and a celebrated general in French service); a signed copy of William King’s influential State of the Protestants in Ireland… published in 1691; and its refutation by Charles Leslie in 1692. A framed copy of the 1688 Proclamation by Richard Talbot, Duke of Tyrconnell, proscribing persons in the province of Ulster and the town of Sligo as traitors is also included.

In addition there are copies of most of the publications by subsequent authors, including definitive Army Lists of the Jacobite Army, together with numerous shorter contemporary manuscripts describing parts of the conflict in various regions of the country, both North and South. In addition, the collection contains most of the publications from the 20th century dealing with the conflict, including some rare items. Most items are in their original bindings and where repairs or rebindings have been necessary they have been carried out in a most professional manner.

John Cox, University Librarian at NUI Galway, said: “This is a wonderful collection and it is a real honour to receive it and to add it to the Library’s special collections. Colman has brought all his passion for this period of Irish history to bear on the collection, making great efforts to assemble it and often tracking down books in unusual places.”

Colman’s fascination with the Jacobite War was inspired by a boyhood visit to the Aughrim battle site. He was brought by his father, a friend of Martin Joyce, the local schoolmaster, historian and guardian of the memory of Aughrim. This passion was subsequently reawakened by Richard Murphy’s 1965 epic poem on the Battle of Aughrim. The decision to donate the collection to NUI Galway in memory of the donor’s father, Joseph H. Morrissey, was taken because the Battle of Aughrim, the bloodiest and most decisive battle in Irish history, was fought in Connacht and because the donor’s father was a graduate of NUI Galway, or UCG as it was known then, where he attained a BA degree (with Martin Joyce) in 1935.

To mark the bequest of the Morrissey Collection a public lecture, entitled ‘Myth and Memory: the Battle of Aughrim 1691’will be given by Dr Pádraig Lenihan, Discipline of History, NUI Galway, in the Aula Maxima on Tuesday, 31 May at 8pm.

Dr Jim Browne, President of NUI Galway, said: “This is a most generous donation by Colman Morrissey, representing a lifetime of collecting and interest in the Battle of Aughrim. In receiving it we are delighted to honour the memory of his father, a proud alumnus of our University. The Morrissey collection will be of great value to researchers now and in the future.”

NUI Galway’s Dr Pádraig Lenihan commented: “The collection will provide a wonderful resource to those interested in a time when the west was awake and events of continental reverberations took place on our doorstep.”

The Morrissey Collection will be included in the Special Collections of the Library and located in the Hardiman Research Building.


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