Our Collections

Whether researching your locality or searching for a family connection our collection provides a wealth of information. We have an extensive collection of photographs, journals, postcards, ITA files and more.

The Cork Collection

This is a vast resource of books on numerous subjects related to Cork county and its rich culture and history. Topics include, architecture, archaeology, sport, biography as well as social and political history. Historical Journals published by local historical groups around the county are an integral part of our Cork Collection.

Some key texts for research in our Cork Collection include:

‘The ancient and present state of the county and city of Cork: containing a natural, civil, ecclesiastical, historical and topographical description thereof’ By Charles Smith (1715?-1762)

‘A guide to tracing your Cork Ancestors’ By Tony McCarthy and Tim Cadogan

The Irish Collection

In addition to our Cork Collection, the Local Studies Library also houses an extensive collection of books of national interest on various subject areas from education, archaeology, folklore and travel memoirs, to books focusing on important moments in Irish history.

Some examples of texts in the Irish Collection include:

‘Atlas of the Great Irish Famine’ Edited by John Crowley, William J. Smyth and Mike Murphy

‘Atlas of the Irish Revolution’ Edited by John Crowley, Donal Ó Drisceoil and Mike Murphy; associate editor John Borgonovo

 ‘Ireland under the Tudors: with a succinct account of the earlier history: 3 volumes’ by Richard Bagwell.

‘The beauties of Ireland: being original delineations, topographical, historical and biographical of each county’ by J.N. Brewer

‘The Irish Country House: a social history’ by Peter Somerville-Large

Rare Books Section

Our rare books room is a unique part of our special collections. The collection largely consists of books and pamphlets published in the nineteenth century, with some earlier notable works from the late 1600s and early to mid-1700s. Our collections include material relating to Cork and also books of wider national interest.

Photos and Postcards Collection

Our extensive photographic collections provide a fascinating insight into Cork’s rich social and cultural history. The collections cover a very broad range of topics including historic railways, streetscapes from nineteenth-century Bandon, early twentieth-century images from the Horgan Brothers’ Photography Studio in Youghal and photographs documenting Cork’s famous theatre history.

Records & Other Collections

Some unique items that form part of our digital collections include the Bandon Town Council Minute Books and records from the McCutcheon Bandon Collection. This material offers a fascinating glimpse into the history of local government in Bandon town during the nineteenth century.

Other digitised records which are part of our collections include the Colm Creedon Railway notebooks. This large collection of material provides an interesting source of information on the history and development of the railway network in Cork county.

The ITA/Irish Tourist Association Topographical & General Survey Files

These were compiled on a parish basis during the 1940s by the Irish Tourist Association, a forerunner to Bord Fáilte. While the survey was undertaken to determine the tourist amenities and facilities of a location, this survey also provides interesting details about historical sites, antiquities and local customs.  These files are a real gem for local history enthusiasts. We have 95 files in our collection which comprise villages and towns from across the county from Adrigole to Youghal.


We house an extensive collection of local history journals and periodicals compiled by historical societies and groups from across the county. These books provide an invaluable insight into the history, culture and traditions of a locality.

Some editions of these journals such as the ‘Skibbereen and District Historical Journal/Cumann Staire an Sciobhairín’ is a Cheantar’, ‘Rosscarbery Past and Present’ and ‘The Kinsale Record’ are available to view in our digital archives.


Our collection of maps offers a fascinating insight into the cartographic heritage of the county. The 19th century Ordnance Survey town maps of Mallow, Passage West, Queenstown (Cobh) and Youghal are at a scale of ten feet to one mile, showing a great amount of detail in these towns.  The Standish Barry estate map from 1846 and the Ponsonby estate maps from the late 1860s/early 1870s are another interesting resource for the study of Cork’s rich history.

Local Studies Library Exhibitions

Every year the Local Studies Library compiles an exhibition on various aspects of Cork County history, to highlight the collections and resources available in the Local Studies library. These collections are exhibited across the county in library branches, thereby providing an important link between our library and local communities. The subject matter in these collections is quite varied. It includes commemorative exhibitions of well-known Cork people such as Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, Seán Ó Riordáin and Jack Lynch. Other topics covered include: the history of the Ford Company in Cork, the Cork Bandon and South Coast Railway and the history of Youghal’s bridges.


The Local Studies Library has a large repository of national and provincial newspapers in microfilm and hardcopy format. Some unique Cork newspapers include the Cork Gazette and General Advertiser (1795), People’s Press and Cork Weekly (1834-1836) and the Southern Patriot (Mallow, 1844).

We also provide access for library patrons to the Irish Newspaper Archive, which is the largest digital archive of Irish newspapers in the world, giving access to over 40 titles and millions of newspaper articles spanning 300 years of Irish History. The www.irishnewsarchive.com website can be accessed on the public PC in the Local Studies Library.