Irish Collections at Emory

Emory’s Stuart A. Rose Manuscript, Archives, and Rare Book Library holds one of the strongest collections outside of Ireland for the study of Irish literature. Emory's Irish literary archives range from the Irish renaissance to the present and are continuing to grow. The Irish collection began in 1979 with the acquisition of archival material documenting the life and work of W.B. Yeats and his circle. The W.B. Yeats collection includes letters from Yeats to his longtime friend and colleague Lady Augusta Gregory (cofounder of the Abbey Theatre), a lengthy correspondence related to his 1925 philosophical work, A Vision, and manuscript drafts of and emendations to many of his published works. These original research materials are complemented by the Gregory family papers, the Maud Gonne Collection (including the Gonne-Yeats correspondence that spanned more than forty years), and the Abbey Theatre collection.

Since then, in addition to expanding the Yeats holdings, the Library has assembled papers relating to many of Ireland's finest contemporary poets, including, Ciaran Carson, Peter Fallon, Thomas Kinsella, Michael Longley, Derek Mahon, Paul Muldoon, Medbh McGuckian, Frank Ormsby (long-time editor of The Honest Ulsterman ), Tom Paulin and James Simmons. In 2003, Emory acquired a significant portion of Nobel Prize winning poet Seamus Heaney's archives.

ComharThe Seamus Heaney archive is the largest and most complete research collection anywhere for the study of the life and work of Seamus Heaney. A number of related collections also housed in the Rose Library further document Heaney's literary career and his friendship with other writers of his generation. As well as holding Heaney's correspondence with many of the Irish writers in his circle, the library's Ted Hughes Collection documents one of the most important poetic correspondences of the twentieth century.

The library also holds the publisher's archive of the Gallery Press, which includes correspondence and manuscript materials related to a broad array of contemporary Irish poets and playwrights. In addition, the library holds the literary archive of the Irish novelist Edna O'Brien.

The Irish Literary Collections Portal provides access to the finding aids of over 100 of North America's Irish literary manuscript collections. The portal provides digitized descriptions of each collection and provides a searching interface that allows scholars to easily locate materials between them - creating a virtual atmosphere that, according to former the Rose Library director Steve Ennis, "allows us to listen in on the conversations between writers and between collections."

The archives also enrich Emory's teaching mission by regularly luring to campus those poets whose papers reside here. Goodrich C. White Professor of English, Ronald Schuchard has spent the past twenty years helping to build the Irish collection. "There's no greater reward than seeing a student's face when they're handling for the first time the manuscript of a poem they love," Schuchard said. "It's awe-inspiring." "It's not just the poets' papers that are here," adds Director of Irish Studies, Geraldine Higgins, "The poets are here as well, visiting classes, giving readings. It creates a real sense of liveliness about Irish poetry, where it's not just about blowing dust off an old manuscript. Emory students have an amazing opportunity to see how poetry works with these kinds of resources."  

Also of great interest to poetry enthusiasts is the Raymond Danowski Poetry library. Built over a period of 25 years, it includes over 70,000 works as well as scores of periodicals, manuscripts and other material. The library is comprised of English-language poetry published after 1900 anywhere in the world. Highlights of Irish writing include one of twenty-five numbered copies of Yeats's "Easter 1916" "for distribution among his friends," dated 25 September 1916, the first theatre edition of Yeats's Cathleen ni Houlihan and rare copies of Gorgon, the Queen's University magazine where Seamus Heaney first appeared in print as "Incertus".

Recent readings of archived poets have included Paul Muldoon, Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley and Medbh McGuckian, events that often draw hundreds from the Atlanta community as well.