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Special Collections & Archives

JPII Special Collections Reading Room

Welcome to the Special Collections & Archives Reading Room, John Paul II Library

The Special Collections & Archives Reading Room in the John Paul II Library contains the special and historical collections of Maynooth University, including over 8,000 printed works dating from the 15th century onwards, archival collections, calendars, directories and cartographic material. The Reading Room was opened in 2013 following a major extension to the John Paul II Library. 

Opening Hours

SC&A Reading Room Opening Hours (by prior appointment only):

  • Monday, Tuesday, and Thursday from

         10.00am - 12.30pm 

         2.00pm - 4.30pm 

    Closed for appointments on Wednesday and Friday.

If you have any questions, please contact us.

Opening Hours

The St. Canice’s Cathedral Library Collection

This unique collection of early printed books constitutes one of the most important antiquarian book collections in Ireland. Particular highlights include four incunabula (pre-1500 printings) and a Shakespearean Fourth Folio (1685) all of which are under the custodianship of Maynooth University Library following a long-term loan agreement with the Representative Church Body of Ireland in 2014.

The MU Library Treasures Blog

Special Collections & Archives Reading Room, John Paul II Library

Printed Materials


Special Collections print collection comprise first and limited editions, autographed copies, decoratively bound and illustrated material and facsimiles. Fragile and scare materials are also preserved in the collection. The collections date from 16th to the 20th centuries.  

Archival Sources 

Archival Sources contain Calendars of State Papers, Irish Manuscript Commission publications as well as items on microfilm such as the Leinster Papers, the British in Ireland - Police Reports 1892-1924 and the 1641 depositions. These items are for library use only.

College Collections 

This is a collection of printed material about Maynooth University and St Patrick’s College Maynooth together with the works of past and present staff. It also contains ephemera such as photographs, news cuttings, posters, and programmes. 


The collection includes a scarce and detailed 1783 Grand Jury map of Kildare by Lieut. Alexander Taylor. 


The pamphlet collection is made up of Irish language and Catholic Truth Society pamphlets.

Beyond MU

If you want to visit other third level institutions there are various access schemes open to MU staff and students, such as the ALCID or SCONUL Access schemes.

In all cases please email the relevant Special Collections in advance in order to request the material. The staff in each institution will inform you of the relevant procedures which may be different to those here at MU Library.

For more information about locating the relevant special collections' material to your study use the latest edition of the Directory of Rare Books and Special Collections in the UK and Ireland.

Contact Us

SC&A Reading Room, John Paul II Library




Special Collections & Archives,

John Paul II Library,

Maynooth University,

Maynooth, Co. Kildare.

W23 VP22



Special Collections and Archives is a collecting repository that acquires and administers archival collections of private origin. These collections include the papers of academics, writers and other professionals, as well as documents of local interest. Collections of note available for research include the archives of:

  • Teresa Deevy (1894-1963), Irish playwright
  • Desmond Forristal (1930-2012), Scholar, author and TV producer
  • John Sadlier (1813-56), Irish politician and banker
  • Sean O’Faolain (1900-1991), Irish writer
  • Ken Saro-Wiwa (1941-1995), Nigerian writer and activist
  • Pearse Hutchinson (1927-2012), Irish poet, writer and broadcaster
  • The Wardell Family (1851-1936) Military family involved in the 19th century South African wars and World War I
  • Peadar Ó Laoghaire (1839-1920), Irish language scholar and writer
  • The Borrowes Family (1720-1848), Legal documents relating to the Borrowes family of Gilltown, County Kildare
  • The Graham Family (1781-1959), Legal documents relating to the Graham family, Belfast, wine and spirit merchants

Please note only fully processed collections are available for research and collections can only be consulted in the Special Collections and Archives reading room. For additional information please contact Special Collections