In 1978 the National Library purchased a large collection of Irish pamphlets from the English antiquarian bookseller Chris Kohler. They included 32 bound volumes of pamphlets with the bookplate of William Ruddell Clarke of Trabolgan in County Cork, Ireland. Clarke (1870-1937) inherited Trabolgan, a large Georgian house, and the surrounding estate of 1500 acres from his father in 1911. After his death the estate was purchased by the Irish Land Commission.


The collection acquired from Chris Kohler comprises 2646 pamphlets, tracts and leaflets published in Britain and Ireland between 1770 and 1976. A few of the works deal with the history and antiquities of Ireland, but in general the pamphlets describe, debate and criticize the political, economic, social and religious affairs, divisions and conflicts in Ireland in these two centuries.

A large proportion of the pamphlets relate to the relations between Britain and Ireland, the debates leading up to the Act of Union (1800), the Irish nationalist movement, the struggles in both Britain and Ireland over Home Rule, British coercive policies in the late nineteenth century, the Ulster question, World War I and conscription, the 1916 uprising, the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922, the position of Ireland within the Commonwealth, conflict in Northern Ireland, the Troops Out movement in the 1970s, Ireland’s entry into the European Economic Community in 1973, and the question of Irish unification. A particular strength of the collection is the large number of leaflets of the Irish Loyal and Patriotic Union (1882-90) and the Irish Unionist Alliance (1892-1921). Other political organisations represented are the Communist Party of Ireland, the Home Government Association, the Irish Land Committee, the Irish Labour Party, the New Ulster Movement, the Orange Institution, Sinn Fein, the Ulster Unionist Council and the Unionist Association of Ireland.

The collection is also strong in pamphlets, including sermons and pastoral letters, documenting the religious divisions in Ireland. Many of the earlier works deal with Catholic emancipation, finally achieved in 1829, while other subjects include doctrinal disputes, the Catholic Church in Ireland, the disestablishment of the Church of Ireland in 1871, and the Presbyterian Church in Ireland. Related topics are the National School system and the establishment of a Catholic university. The collection also contains many works on economic conditions in Ireland, the land question, the difficulties facing Irish tenants, evictions, emigration, trade unionism, socialism, legal issues and criminal trials. There are also 30 ballad sheets dating from the mid-nineteenth century.

Among the authors represented in the collection are Isaac Butt, Lord Castlereagh, John J. Clancy, James Connolly, John Dillon, W.E. Gladstone, Henry Grattan, T.M. Healy, John Kells Ingram, John Mitchel, William O’Brien, William Smith O’Brien, Daniel O’Connell, Padraic Pearse, John Redmond, George Salmon, Goldwin Smith, William Smith and Archbishop Richard Whately. There are also a few Irish Australian authors, such as Charles Gavan Duffy, Hugh Mahon and Archbishop Daniel Mannix.

Two other formed collections held in the Library have significant numbers of Irish pamphlets.

The Kashnor Collection contains about 200 Irish pamphlets published between 1673 and 1919. The pre-1800 works mostly deal with economic and constitutional matters, such as agriculture, manufactures, revenue, tolls, tithes, trade between Britain and Ireland, the powers of the Irish House of Commons, and the Act of Union in 1800. Many of the later pamphlets deal with poverty and civil unrest in Ireland, the emergence of radical organisations such as the Fenian Brotherhood, criminal trials, Catholic emancipation, the position of the Church of Ireland, education, and the land question. Several publications discuss generally the affairs or state of Ireland. One example, written by a young scholar who later held one of the first chairs at Melbourne University, is William Hearn’s The Cassell prize essay on the condition of Ireland (1851).

The Patrick O’Farrell Collection contains 520 Irish pamphlets dating from 1836 to 1990. There are many works on Home Rule, Charles Stewart Parnell and the Irish Nationalist Party, the Ulster question, the establishment of the Irish Free State, Sinn Fein, the government of Northern Ireland, conflicts in Northern Ireland, and the possible unification of Ireland. Other subjects include Irish history, ecclesiastical history, Irish manuscripts, the Catholic Church in Ireland, the National Schools system, university education, the temperance movement, the Gaelic League and the Irish language movement, and economic conditions in Ireland. Among the authors are Roger Casement, Erskine Childers, Michael Davitt, Cardinal Patrick Moran, William O’Brien and Eaman de Valera.


The Irish Pamphlet collection acquired from Kohler is kept together as a formed collection within the Rare Books Collection. The pamphlets are housed in 107 boxes and shelved at RBq 320.9415 I68. They have been catalogued individually. A copy of the 91 page listing produced by Kohler is held with the collection, but it has not been marked up with the item numbers.

The Kashnor Collection is also housed in the Rare Books Collection. The books have been catalogued individually and the call numbers have the prefixes RB Ec and RBp Ec. In addition, there is a two volume catalogue of the Kashnor Collection (1969). The pamphlets in the O’Farrell Collection are kept together as a collection within the Australian Collection. The Irish pamphlets are filed chronologically and are numbered OFA 370-890. They have not been catalogued.


Irish collection: 2626 pamphlets of the 18th to 20th centuries. Index [C. Kohler, 1978]

The Kashnor Collection: the catalogue of a collection relating chiefly to the political economy of Great Britain and Ireland from the 17th to the 19th centuries, 2 vols, Canberra, National Library of Australia, 1969