New and Rare Irish Books on Display at St. Thomas' Annual St. Patrick's Day Open House

Celtic knots from the Book of Kells.

Celtic knots from the Book of Kells.

The University of St. Thomas’ O’Shaughnessy-Frey Library and Center for Irish Studies will co-host their annual St. Patrick’s Day Open House on Thursday, March 17, from 11:30 a.m.-1 p.m. in the library’s Special Collections Reading Room, Room LL09.

The event features readings and the display of new and rare Irish books from the university’s Celtic Collection. St. Thomas’ 9,200-volume Celtic Collection, the largest of the university’s special collections and one of the 10 largest collections of Celtic materials in North America, includes works on Irish history and politics; church history and religion; and folklore, art and music of the Celtic nations.

A brief program begins at 12:15 p.m.

The collection was begun in 1917 when the Ancient Order of Hibernians of Minnesota gave the library 500 titles on then-contemporary Irish politics and 19th century Irish history, evidently to commemorate the 1916 Easter Uprising in Ireland.

Donations and acquisitions since have bolstered the collection. About 85 percent of the collection focuses on Ireland, 10 percent on Scotland and 5 percent on the other Celtic nations (Wales, Cornwall, the Isle of Man, and Brittany). Nearly 30 percent of the Celtic Collection consists of titles written in Celtic languages, most often Irish.

The St. Thomas Center for Irish Studies was established in 1996 to advance teaching and scholarship in Irish studies for students, faculty and friends of the university through publications, instruction and public programs. Among other activities, the center publishes New Hibernia Review, a quarterly journal of Irish studies.

For further information about the open house, call Special Collections at (651) 962-5467, or the Center for Irish Studies at (651) 962-5662.