Marsh’s Library. Ireland’s Oldest Public Library

Marsh’s library

Have you paid the Marsh’s library a visit? No? And are you still thinking about what to do in Dublin?

Inside marsh's library

Marsh’s Library

That is really a moot point when you find yourself in a city that has a lot of history and historical artifacts. Don’t bother worrying yourself about what to do in Dublin. There are way too many places to visit and things to see that if you visited one historical site per day, you wouldn’t be done seeing all of them in a week.

So if you haven’t visited  the Marsh’s library yet, then you should definitely should a visit? Put it down as one of the places to see before you leave Dublin. It’s a guarantee that you would enjoy it immensely.

However, before you make that trip, knowing a little bit about the Marsh’s library  won’t hurt. In fact, you would have more fun visiting it with a little bit of background knowledge.


What is the Marsh’s library all about?


The Marsh’s library is a library in every sense of the word. It is a library collection of books named after Archbishop Narcissus Marsh. It is a fully comprehensive collection of more than 700 thousand books and it can be found at St. Patrick’s close in Dublin, Ireland.


Brief History of the Marsh Library

The Marsh’s library is an old Library that has withstood the test of time over many centuries. It is also the first public library in Dublin Ireland. It was opened to the public in the early 17th century and precisely in the year 1707. The library was ordered and built according to the specifications of the Archbishop Marsh Narcissus who was the then provost of the Trinity College, Dublin. The library was not just built because of him, it was also named after him in a bold show of appreciation.

Although the building was commissioned in 1701, the first stage of the library which contained the reading room and a gallery was completed 4 years later in 1705. In 1707, the library was officially established by the Irish Parliament and the second part of the library was completed in the following year after its establishment.

Stocking of the Marsh’s library

The Marsh’s library was mostly stocked from the goodwill of several men. One of such notable men is Dr. Elias Bouhereau who gave his personal library to the cause of stocking the Marsh library. He later went on to be its very first curator.

Another man who gave his own library to the cause  was the very man whom the library was being built in his name, Archbishop Narcissus Marsh. He not only gave up his own library to see that the Marsh library was stocked, he also gave up the library of Bishop Edward Stillingfleet which he had bought for a whopping £2500 pounds. The library contained about 10,000 books and was proved to be a very valuable addition to the Marsh library.

One other benefactor to the Marsh library was Bishop of Clogher, John Stearne who in 1745 left his library contents to the Marsh library.

Another notable contribution to the volumes of the Marsh library is from the Guinness family who gave the Benjamin Iveagh library to the Marsh library after selling off the Farmleigh house to the state of Ireland.


The ownership of the Marsh’s Library

In 1707, the Irish parliament gave over the Marsh library and all its contents to a body of people called the Governors and guardians of the library. This body was made up of religious leaders and political dignitaries and each new generation, a new group of successors sit in that council and take charge of the library.


The first female keeper of the Marsh library

Muriel McCarthy broke records when in 1989, she beat all odds to become the very first female keeper of the Marsh library, a duty she carried out till her death in 2011. Right now, Jason McElligot is the present keeper of the Marsh Library.


The E library?

The Marsh library might have been established in the 17th century but it hasn’t remained there. It has evolved just as the years have evolved and part of that evolution involves the possibility of an E-library. It does have an online catalogue where people can register and read books and original manuscripts.


Archbishop Narcissus Marsh buried near his library

When Archbishop Narcissus Marsh, the man after whom the library was built died in 1713, his remains were laid to rest just behind his beloved library which is also in the same premises as the Cathedral he also loved.

The admission to Marsh’s Library

The ticket is €3 for tourists and €2 for students and elderly people. Make that call and buy yourself a ticket. You won’t regret it.




The Marsh’s library is definitely a place you would enjoy being in if you are a lover of books and history. You would also enjoy have information access to old volumes of books a score original manuscripts written many centuries before your time. A visit to the Marsh library is something that you should do as soon as possible. I can guarantee that you won’t regret it and it does not cost much to get yourself a ticket.


Opening Hours

  • Monday09:30 - 17:00
  • Tuesday09:30 - 17:00
  • Wednesday09:30 - 17:00
  • Thursday09:30 - 17:00
  • Friday09:30 - 17:00
  • Saturday09:30 - 17:00
  • Sunday09:30 - 17:00

Contact Us