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Heritage Ireland

Talk: Reading for Old Soldiers: The Libraries of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham


Free of charge

Book Tickets


18/05/2024 - 18/05/2024
5:30 pm - 7:00 pm


Royal Hospital Kilmainham

Free of charge but places limited and booking is essential. Tickets through eventbrite

Join Dr. Jason McElligott for a talk about the historical library collection of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham.

The opening of the Royal Hospital Kilmainham (RHK) in 1684 marked a major advance in the care of wounded and elderly soldiers in Ireland.

The number of men in the RHK at any one time varied from 400 to 650. Soldiers wounded in battle often died soon after entering the hospital, but those who survived frequently lived long lives. In 1744, for example, the former Corporal James Dunwoody from Lisburn had already spent 32 long years in Kilmainham.

The talk will discuss what officers and men did to pass the time in Kilmainham. One common leisure activity was reading. A small library of 250 books was created in 1712 and from the 1850s a much larger collection of several thousand volumes was formed. What sort of books did the officers and men read? What do these books tell us about the officers and men, the hospital, and the military culture in which they lived?

Jason McElligott is the Director of Marsh's Library, founded as the first public library in Ireland in 1707. He is a native of Cabra in Dublin and did his undergraduate and MA degrees in history at UCD and his Ph.D. at St John's College Cambridge. He is a former Fellow of Merton College, Oxford, and is writing a monograph on book theft in 18th-century Dublin.


Military Road
Dublin 8
D08 FW31

046 9422450

Getting Here

By Luas: Red line to Heuston Station (8 minutes walk via Military Road.)

By Bus: Buses to Heuston Station (8 minutes walk via Military Rd): C1, C2, C3, C4 from Aston Quay. Buses to James Street (8 minutes walk via steps to Bow Lane onto Irwin Street and Military Road): 13 from O’Connell Street or Dame Street; G1 and G2 from Eden Quay.

By Car: Paid car parking – €2 for the first 3 hrs, €2/hour thereafter.

On Foot: Approx. 30 to 40 minutes from the city centre.

By Train: 8 minutes walk from Heuston Station.

Cycling: There is bike parking onsite and a number of Dublin Bikes stations located nearby.

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