Dictionary of Irish Biography in print
The Dictionary of Irish Biography: from the earliest times to the year 2002, edited by James McGuire and James Quinn, was published in nine volumes in 2009 by Cambridge University Press, followed by two further volumes in 2018 which included biographies of individuals who had died between 2003 and 2010, as well as a selection of ‘missing persons’ – figures who had not been included in the first nine volumes.
DIB thematic titles
The DIB project has published several themed books, curating its entries to give a deeper insight into the lives of the men and women involved in major Irish historical events, movements and migrations.
Irish lives in America
Irish lives in America comprises fifty biographical essays of notable Irish emigrants to America, attempting to capture something of the Irish experience of America, as well as the Irish impact on American society, culture and politics. Dan Mulhall, Irish Ambassador to the United States, kindly contributed the book’s foreword.
The volume spans over 300 years of American history. The earliest life featured is that of James Logan (1674–1751), public servant and scientist in pre-independence America; the latest is Hollywood actress Maureen O’Hara (1920–2015).
The collection combines some familiar names such as Thomas Francis Meagher, Young Irelander, transported convict and American civil war general; singing superstar, John McCormack; influential early Hollywood director, Rex Ingram; renowned sculptor Augustus Saint-Gaudens; submarine inventor, John Philip Holland; workers’ rights icon, Mother Jones; with those that are perhaps less familiar: Margaret Maher, maid to Emily Dickinson's family; Pierce Butler, Irish-born politician responsible for the insertion of the cruel ‘fugitive slave clause’ into the US constitution; Alexander Brown, a business magnate who was the founder of one of the country’s earliest private banks and a railroad; and Mary O’Connell (Sister Anthony) known as America’s Florence Nightingale who tended to soldiers on both sides of the civil war and pioneered battlefield triage techniques.
Contributors to the book include Patrick Geoghegan, Angela Bourke, Owen McGee, Bridget Hourican, Maureen O. Murphy and DIB staff researchers.
Irish lives in America is available to purchase online and at all good book shops.
Media related to the book's launches in Ireland and the US, as well as radio interviews and press coverage are available here: https://www.ria.ie/irish-lives-america
Transatlantic lives: The Irish experience in colonial America
Transatlantic lives features sixty biographical essays from the Dictionary of Irish Biography, detailing the careers of a selection of Irish emigrants to North America in the colonial period (including the British territories that would later become Canada).
Those chosen are a representative sample of some of the more notable figures among these emigrants. Colonial administrators, soldiers and clergymen predominate. Among clergymen, Presbyterians (of various hues) are the most numerous, but space has also been found for Methodists, Quakers, Anglicans and Catholics, all of whom made their contribution to shaping the religious culture of the colonies.
The selection also includes educators, doctors, writers, artists, printers, merchants and even a (female) pirate to give some sense of the diversity of such emigrants, and their varying contributions to the economic and cultural development of the colonies.
1916 portraits and lives
This book features a selection of forty entries from the DIB on men and women whose careers, in one way or another, were deeply involved with the Easter rising of 1916.
The biographies selected compose an inclusively broad picture of the rising, representing the spectrum of personalities and perspectives that were involved in the event. They include not only the insurgents (and some others) killed during the rising but also some of the women who were involved as soldiers or in supporting capacities; three nationalist leaders who opposed the rising; some of the senior figures in the British administration in Ireland in 1916; members of the British army that suppressed the rising; and two historians who made considerable contributions to the scholarly debate on 1916.
This selection aims to give a balanced view of the rising. In addition to the biographies, there is an extended introduction by Dr Patrick Maume of the DIB, and each biography is illustrated with an original drawing by artist David Rooney.
‘This is a book to savour, both because of its diverse cast of characters and the quality of the contributors who provide entries that are erudite, often spiky, fresh, nuanced and skilfully composed.’ Diarmaid Ferriter, Irish Arts Review.
Ulster political lives, 1886–1921
Ulster political lives examines the lives of fifty of Ulster’s most significant political figures in the turbulent period from the first Home Rule Bill of 1886 to the foundation of the state of Northern Ireland in 1921.
It includes DIB entries on leading figures such as Edward Carson, James Craig and Joseph Devlin, as well as on lesser-known but interesting figures such as Margaret Byers, Winifred Carney and George Clark, whose lives are also significant and instructive.
It details the lives of unionists and nationalists, loyalists and republicans, but also those who did not fit into such neat categories – socialists, trade unionists and feminists, who often avoided identification with the major political groupings but nonetheless made noteworthy contributions to the creation of Northern Ireland and the shape it took after 1921.
In 2022/23 the DIB will publish a volume of notable Irish sportspeople, featuring specially commissioned new biographies.