Past Library Events

Please click on one of the links below to read about past events and news:
The Hume-Dudgeons: Scenes from the Life of an Irish Equestrian Family | A Natural Selection: 100 Aspects of the National Botanic Gardens Dublin | The Visual Time Traveller | It's a Bee's Life Exhibition | Iris Kellett: Show Jumping Legend Exhibition | Judge Wylie, Edward Bohane and the Development of the Dublin Horse Show | Charlie Chaplin International Posters and Memorabilia Exhibition | Christo Regi in Honorem: The 1932 Dublin Eucharistic Congress Exhibition | Mount Merrion 300: 1711 - 2011 | An anatomical school in Cork: John Woodroffe and the Cork Anatomists | Annual Library Book Sale | September 11 Exhibition | Dublin Horse Show Exhibition: Representations of the Dublin Horse Show 1868-2011 | Lawrence E. Steele and Egyptology in Ireland | Library Ireland Week 2011: 'Smart People use Smart Libraries' | Ride On - The Army Equitation School | Robert Mallet: Irish Engineer & Scientist A Commemorative Exhibition | Magical Kenya: an exhibition of Kenyan craftsPast Horse Shows Photographic Exhibition: Images from 1967-2006 | Vivat Linum: the RDS and the Irish Linen Industry

RDS Library & Archives Research Bursary 2016

In 2016 the Library & Archives engaged in a research project focusing on its agricultural archive to examine the work of the RDS on the application of science and technology in agricultural techniques in Ireland over the last three centuries. The agricultural archive reflects the original remit of the Society to improve “Husbandry, manufactures and other useful arts” which began with the establishment of premiums for innovation and excellence in Irish agriculture, manufacturing and arts and continues right through to today with projects including the Champion of Champions and Forestry Awards.

The RDS Agricultural Archive is a collection of material pertaining to the RDS and its involvement in agricultural improvement in Ireland since 1731.

The collection includes:

  • List of premiums (grants) awarded by the RDS for agricultural improvements
  • Minutes of the Royal Agricultural Society of Ireland (1841-1880)
  • Minutes and correspondence of RDS agricultural committee,
  • Rare and early printed books,
  • Pamphlets and 19th century catalogues of farming societies
  • Estate papers of Rathsallagh and Fassaroe. Co. Wicklow.
  • RDS Spring Show Archive: catalogues, photographs and documents relating to the RDS Spring Show (1831-1992)

The full catalogue is available online.

The RDS Library & Archives sought expressions of interest from postgraduate researchers to complete a research study on a topic of interest within the RDS Agricultural Archive. Dr Míchéal Ó Fáthartaigh was awarded a research bursary of €8,000. Dr Míchéal Ó Fáthartaigh will complete a research paper for presentation at a conference on the history of agriculture in Ireland to be held at the RDS in September 2016. The research paper will also be submitted for publication in an appropriate academic journal.

Tommy BrennanTommy Brennan: the Complete Horseman

From an incident of near drowning at the Olympics, to jumping over houses on horseback, to attending royal weddings, the life of Tommy Brennan was never dull. One of Ireland’s most gifted horsemen, Tommy graced the RDS many times and in 2015 the late Tommy Brennan appeared once again with an exhibition on his life and how he lived at the RDS Library from July 31 – September 18, including during the Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show.

Drawing on the equestrian archive of the RDS and supplemented by donated memories and photographs, Tommy Brennan: the Complete Horseman highlighted the many aspects of Tommy’s multi-faceted participation in the world of equestrianism.  

Included was the the Mexico Olympics in 1968 when a flooded course saw Tommy rescued from a near drowning in a water feature by the then FEI president Prince Philip. Also featured were the many times he participated in the Dublin Horse Show, including the many highs of winning and the lows of having one of his best horses put down with only weeks to the Olympic games. The exhibition recalled his world championship win in 1966, his time as stud manager of Charlie Haughey’s Abbyville, his successes as both rider and chef d’equipe for Ireland, his exploits with hunts around Ireland and his fraternising with royalty around the world.

At various times Tommy bred horses, managed a stud farm, rode point-to-point winners and was a bloodstock agent. He gained prominence at a world level for his course designs working for events in China, Australia and Qatar.

The exhibition featured a time line of his career and included photographs of Tommy in competition from a young age, as well as displaying his numerous medals and selected associated memorabilia that give just a flavour of his life.

For further details and information contact: Tel: (01) 2407256

Pianissimo: over a century of classical music at the RDS
To celebrate the 90th anniversaryPianissimo 1 of the RDS Concert Hall and the 50th anniversary of The RDS Library building the RDS Library and Archives hosted Pianissimo: over a century of classical music at the RDS, an exhibition that explores the contribution the RDS has made to classical music and its performance in Dublin from the 1880s until the present day.

In 1886 the Committee of Chamber Music was established by the RDS to look into the provision of regular concerts of classical music for the people of Dublin. These first concerts were held in the Society’s theatre and other venues around the City.

In 1924 the RDS vacated Leinster House at the request of the Irish government who sought the use of building and its lecture theatre for the Dáil chamber.

The RDS set up their new headquarters in Ballsbridge on the site where they held their annual Spring and Horse Shows. Plans for the RDS new headquarters included a dual purpose concert hall and library, where RDS members and their guests could attend lectures and recitals of classical music.

For more than 60 years the RDS Music Committee continued to arrange concerts and recitals by world class classical performers in the Concert Hall. Soloists who have performed at the RDS have included Arthur Rubinstein, Walter Gieseking, Alfred Cortot, Nathan Milstein, Kathleen Ferrier, Rosalyn Tureck, Bernadette Greevy, Elizabeth  Schwarzkopf, Jacqueline du Pré, Alfred Brendel, John O’Conor and Hugh Tinney.
The RDS continues its support for the performance of classical music in Ireland to this day. The RDS Music Bursary represents one of the largest prize funds on offer to young musicians in Europe and the annual RDS Rising Stars concert provides young perfomers with a platform and audience for performance. 

The Hume-Dudgeons: Scenes from the Life of an Irish Equestrian Family August 1-September 30, 2014 

The 2014 Discover Ireland Dublin Horse Show RDS Library and Archives Exhibition was a photographic exhibition exploring over forty years in the life of the legendary Irish equestrian family the Hume-Dudgeons.

Based around a series of family photograph albums, kindly loaned to the RDS Library and Archives by family member Jenny Hunt, the exhibition brought together a fascinating personal insight into the history of 20th century showjumping and equestrianism and the significant contribution this one family made to both.

Lt. Colonel Joseph (Joe) Hume-Dudgeon O.B.E. M.C., who has been described as a founding father of Irish showjumping, was born in 1893 in Dublin, the only son of stock-broker Joseph Hume-Dudgeon and Isabella Best McCorquodale.

During the First World War Joe served as a cavalry officer with the Royal Scots Greys. In 1920 he married Isabella (Sybil) Symington, their daughter Kathleen (K) was born in 1921, followed in 1924 by a son, Ian.

The Hume-Dudgeon’s founded a riding school, the Riding Establishment, at the family home Merville, Co. Dublin in 1938. In 1954 the school moved to Burton Hall, Co. Dublin, where it ran until the late 1960s.

A Natural Selection: 100 Aspects of the National Botanic Gardens Dublin, June 11 – July 4

Natural SelectionOne hundred renowned Printmakers produced 100 prints in editions of 100. The works feature the many diverse aspects of the gardens, interpreted to the highest standard that the medium allows. The result of a collaboration between artists at Graphic Studio Dublin and the National Botanic Gardens, the exhibition brought together 100 renowned fine art printmakers, Irish and International, who were invited to make a print in an edition of 100, inspired by the magical surroundings of the Glasnevin gardens, and their Wicklow outpost, Kilmacurragh.

It is particularly fitting that this exhibition was shown at the RDS as the original gardens were founded in 1795 by the then Dublin Society. The gardens were under RDS care until transferred in 1877 to the then Government, as a result of the Science and Art Museum Act. There are still links between the Society and the Gardens as the 1877 Act provided for a Board of Visitors.

The Visual Time Traveller 2 April-16 May 2014neil armstrong

Did Andy Warhol create a screen-print of Yuri Gagarin, the first man in space? Is a giraffe really walking to Paris? Why does the publication of Newton’s Optiks remind you of Pink Floyd's Dark Side of the Moon?  
To find out the answers to these questions and more the RDS Library and Archives invites you to visit the Visual Time Traveller an exhibition featuring selected images from the book of the same title written and published by RDS member Alison Hackett.

The Visual Time Traveller is a stunning production with an International story - told in a complex weave of words and images. Over a thousand facts, covering subjects as diverse as the history of science, art, politics, exploration and music from the 16th century until the present time, were brought together with a hundred high quality graphic designs. 

Its a bees lifeIt's A Bee's Life 10th October-15th October 2013 The RDS Library and Archives was proud to host It’s a Bee’s Life, an exhibition commissioned by the Federation of Irish Bee Keepers Association and designed by students at the Dun Laoghaire Institute of Art Design & Technology. 

Irish KellettIris Kellett Show Jumping Legend August 2nd – September 30th, 2013 Iris Kellett is considered one of the most exceptional figures in the history of Irish show-jumping and equestrianism.

In a career spanning over 30 years Iris Kellett established herself as one of the top riders of her generation. She flourished at a time when women and civilian riders were gaining prominence in international competition, and she was to become a leading ambassador for both.

Iris’s contribution as a teacher and trainer is unparalleled and her legacy can be traced through the successes of her many students and the outstanding horses that she trained and bred.

The 2013 Dublin Horse Show Library and Archives exhibition, “Iris Kellett Show Jumping Legend” examined the life and career of Iris Kellett and explored the lasting contribution she made to equestrianism both in Ireland and internationally. The video that accompanied the exhibition is available to view below.

Wylie and Bohane

Judge Wylie, Edward Bohane and the development of the Dublin Horse Show

This exhibition explored the ways in which these influential figures contributed to the development of the Dublin Horse Show and the RDS show-grounds from the 1920s until the 1950s. The exhibition ran from August 8 - September 30 2012.

Charlie Chaplin International Posters and Memorabilia Exhibition 

The RDS Library was delighted to have the opportunity to host a small exhibition of posters and other memorabilia featuring one of cinema's most iconic characters, the great Charlie Chaplin in July 2012. The posters which are from the private collection of Irish/Australian Paddy MacDonald were a sample selection from a larger exhibition, due to feature at the Charlie Chaplin Comedy Film Festival which took place in Waterville, Co. Kerry from 23 – 26 August 2012 http//

The collection represents the great poster artists from many of the movies that Charlie Chaplin made. There were posters from Australia, India, Shanghai, Cuba, Croatia, Spain, France, Italy, Yugoslavia, Switzerland and further afield.

The RDS Library exhibition also included postcards, music scores, characteristic Chaplin images and items of interest.


Christo Regi in Honorem: The 1932 Dublin Eucharistic Congress Exhibition

The 31st, Eucharistic Congress was held in Dublin in 1932. It was a significant and defining moment in the history of the modern Irish State, coming as it did in the first decade of its existence. It presented challenges of logistics and infrastructure as a majority of the country’s nearly 3 million citizens sought to participate at ceremonies in Dublin and at a local level. Numerous pilgrims also


visited from all over the world. In order to achieve what was required for the occasion, many National and voluntary organisations came together in a show of faith and mutual fellowship. The event was talked of in Irish families for generations and the expression of religious fervour associated with it was not to be equalled again until the visit of Pope John Paul II in 1979.

To mark the occasion of the Irish Eucharistic Congress 2012, which took place at the RDS from 10 – 17 June, a specially researched exhibition was hosted in the RDS Library. The exhibition was curated by Noell Dowling of the Dublin Diocesan Archive, it gave an overview of the event, its organisation, participants and the roles of those associated in making it happen. The exhibition featured a range of media including information panels, photographs and film, together with actual items held in the archives, from the occasion.


Mount Merrion 300: 1711 - 2011

In 1711 the Fitzwilliam family moved from Merrion Castle to new premises on rising ground in south Dublin, subsequently known as Mount Merrion. To mark  the 300th anniversary of that occurrence, a project group was set up in conjunction with the Mount Merrion Historical Society which resulted in an exhibition and a concert in May 2011.  In November the publication of a best-selling book dealt with the local history of the area.  

The RDS Library hosted the exhibition in April and May 2012 which illustrated, through text and images, the story of Mount Merrion and its development over the past three hundred years.

The exhibition took the viewer through details of the Fitzwilliam/Pembroke family as well as those of visitors and tenants to Mount Merrion House. Their story continues to 1918, when the estate was sold intact, to the varied development which was promised for the area. Some of this development was implemented through the 1930s, 1940s and 1950s and, with other development over the years, has resulted in the modern day ‘estate’ of Mount Merrion.

Further historical details are available at:

 An anatomical school in Cork: John Woodroffe and the Cork Anatomists

John WoodroffeThis exhibition celebrates the bicentenary of the founding by John Woodroffe of the first School of Anatomy in Cork city and the extraordinary contribution by a group of Cork anatomists to the subsequent development of the discipline in the 19th century.

Having lived and worked in Cork for 30 years, John Woodroffe returned to Dublin in 1841 and was appointed the first honorary Professor in the Drawing Schools of the RDS, in 1844.

The exhibition was open from February 1 to February 29, 2012 in the RDS Library.




Annual Library Book Sale

Library book sale 2007The annual Library book sale took place from Monday, November 28 to Friday, December 2, 2011.

Duplicate and out-of-date books were available for purchase at the 5th Annual Library Book Sale. Donations of books were also accepted from Members of the RDS to help raise funds for the Library.


September 11 Exhibition

Ground Zero 360On September 11, 2001, New York City was shaken to its core when two jet airliners crashed into the twin towers of the World Trade Centre. In the wake of the chaos, New York based photographer Nicola McClean responded in the only way she knew how; she picked up her camera and took to the streets to record what she saw.

9/11 changed a dynamic everywhere. Nicola has captured the essence of that ‘moment in time’. The vulnerability of the Irish landing in the new land was matched that day by the vulnerability of a people struck by terror.

Nicola McClean is a Fine Art Photographer who developed a love for the camera at the tender age of 12, when her beloved grandmother gifted her an old ‘Brownie’ camera. A deep rooted love for Photography was born, which lead Nicola on to study Fine Art Photography at Bournemouth & Poole College of Art & Design & The Royal Academy of Fine Arts, in Ghent.

Graduating in 1997, Nicola September 11relocated to New York City where she began her career as a Photojournalist. She worked as the staff Photographer for The Irish Voice Newspaper & Irish America Magazine while freelancing for Raygun & Andy Warhol’s ‘Interview’, to name but a few. She splits her time between NYC & her hometown of Dublin, Ireland.

This exhibition was open to the public Monday – Friday, 10.00am – 5.00pm from September 6 until September 22, 2011  in the RDS Library.

Dublin Horse Show Exhibition: Representations of the Dublin Horse Show 1868-2011

The RDS Library HoHorse Show exhibition 2011rse Show exhibition for 2011 was entitled “Representations of the Dublin Horse Show 1868-2011”. The exhibition explored the ways in which the Dublin Horse Show has been represented in literature, advertising, newspapers and other media from 1864 until the present day.

On 28th July 1868 the RDS held its first annual Horse Show on the lawn of Leinster House. In the 143 years since then, the Dublin Horse Show has become an equestrian institution, both in Ireland and across the world. Whether viewed as equestrian event, social occasion, tourist attraction or subject for literature and satire, the RDS Library’s Horse Show exhibition reveals the impact the Dublin Horse Show has had on the imagination of artists, designers and writers for over 100 years.

Dublin OpinionCartoons from the cover of the Dublin Opinion are a highlight. The iconic posters, and their original paintings, and the famous Kerrygold Horse Show posters were a great source of nostalgia for many visitors to the exhibition.

Fashion at the Dublin Horse Show is nothing new! The exhibition displayed advertisements and features from as far back as 1900 that show how Dublin department stores would reserve stock for customers that they knew would be travelling to Dublin for Horse Show Week.

Other elements to the exhibition included poems, extracts from literature, stamps, theatre posters and postcards, all are great examples of how the Dublin Horse Show has become entwined in Irish life.

The exhibition was open to the public Monday – Friday, 10.00am – 5.00pm from July 28 until August 30 in the RDS Library.

Lawrence E. Steele and Egyptology in Ireland

Lawrence SteeleLawrence Edward Steele was born in 1855. His father was William E. Steele, the then Registrar of the RDS. Lawrence was himself to become a Vice President of the Society. He made at least four extended visits to Egypt to view the work of leading archaeologists including Sir William Flinders Petrie, (who tutored Howard Carter), Edward Ayrton and Theodore M. Davis who discovered the embalming cache of Tutankhamun in the Valley of the Kings in 1907.

He was given permission to photograph inside some of the then recently opened tombs. He made use of the photos, supplemented with others which were commercially available, to give a series of both popular and fund raising lectures in Ireland on behalf of the Egyptian Exploration Fund of which he was the local secretary.

His collection of glass slides (over 1,500) together with over a hundred books, though donated in 1945 have never been displayed. The RDS Library has digitized approximately 100 of the slides to preserve their contents.

The RDS Library is delighted to have featured its own unique Egyptian treasure at a time when the Tutankhamun exhibition was taking place in Hall 4.

The Library exhibition took place from Thursday, May 5 to Friday, July 8 2011.

Library Ireland Week 2011: 'Smart People use Smart Libraries'

LIW 2011Library Ireland Week 2011 took place from the 7th-13th March. Library Ireland Week is a celebration of all that is happening in libraries throughout the country, with this years theme being "Smart People use Smart Libraries".

‘Writers and Artists of the Pembroke Area’ by Peter Costello
To mark Library Ireland Week, the RDS Library host a special talk by Peter Costello on writers and artists who have lived in the Pembroke Township.
The area known as Pembroke including the Pembroke Township is situated on the south side of Dublin and stretches from Leeson Street bridge to Irishtown and includes Donnybrook, Ballsbridge, Sandymount and Booterstown. Such a wide area has of course provided residences for its share of artists and writers over the years. But which ones and where exactly did they live?

Peter Costello, himself a noted writer, has considered the subject and tracked down the former residences of the many noteworthy artists and writers who, from time to time have lived in the area.

This fascinating presentation took place on Wednesday, March 9 at 1.30pm, Minerva Suite, RDS.
RDS Members and their guests availed of Mini Afternoon Tea following the talk in the Thomas Prior Room of the Members’ Club.

Further information about lectures held in the RDS is available on our Speakers Series page.

Ride On - The Army Equitation School Exhibition

Army Equitation School ExhibitionCurated by show jumping historian and commentator Michael Slavin, this exhibition illustrates the role the Army Equitation School has played in the development of Irish show jumping.

The strong connections to the Dublin Horse Show and the RDS mean that this is sure to be a crowd-pleaser.

The exhibition was shown during the Fáilte Ireland Dublin Horse Show, August 4-8, 2010, and from August 10 to October 29, 2010 in the RDS Library.


Robert Mallet: Irish Engineer & Scientist, A Commemorative Exhibition

Robert MalletThe Irish engineer and scientist Robert Mallet (1810–1881) is one of Ireland's many unsung scientific heroes. His contributions to the fields of engineering, seismology, volcanology and ballistic ordnance were of global significance. As 2010 saw the bicentenary of his birth, this exhibition highlights his leading role in solving critical scientific questions.

Mallet is regarded as the founder of seismology (the study of earthquakes) - amongst his many achievements, his pioneering experiments on Killiney beach during the 1840s showed for the first time how sound waves can shake the ground and cause catastrophic earthquakes. This exhibition also illustrates the indelible legacy that the Mallet family iron foundry business left on the Irish landscape by supplying ironwork for the railways, the swing bridge over the River Shannon and even the iron railings surrounding Trinity College.

The exhibition, which has been organised as part of the RDS Foundation programme was open to the public in the RDS Library from August 20, 2010 - September 24, 2010. This commemorative exhibition is generously supported by the Heritage Council, the Irish Times and the Dublin Institute for Advanced Studies

Magical Kenya: an exhibition of Kenyan crafts

Maasai GirlKenyan culture places great emphasis on appearance and a major feature of this is on jewellery. In association with the Embassy of the Republic of Kenya, the RDS Library was delighted to host an exhibition of Kenyan crafts, including many pieces of beautiful Maasai jewellery.

This Exhibition was open to the public from Friday 14 May, 2010 - Friday 2 July, 2010, 10.00am to 5.00pm, Monday-Friday at the RDS Library.  

To compliment the exhibition, a Kenyan Coffee Morning was held in the RDS Library on Wednesday, 26 May 2010. at 11.00am.
The Kenyan Coffee Morning was open to the public and included a fascinating talk on Kenyan culture.


Past Horse Shows Photographic Exhibition: Images from 1967-2006

Gerry MullinsThe RDS, home to the internationally acclaimed Dublin Horse Show, was delighted to present an exhibition of photographs from the Maymes Ansell Archive. Sure to evoke fond reminiscence for anyone who has visited the Horse Show down through the years, this exhibition was open to the public from July 30 - September 25, 2009, Monday - Friday, 10.00am to 5.00pm, at the RDS Library, Merrion Road.

Professional photographer Maymes Ansell donated this collection of images to the RDS Library in 2004. The collection was catalogued by the RDS Library and digitized in 2007 with grant assistance from the Heritage Council.

The images on display featured some of the most prominent international show-jumpers of the last 40 years; from individual portraits of Eddie Macken on Boomerang (1976) and Con Power on Rockbarton (1979), to group shots of 2004 Land Rover Puissance winners - John Whitaker, Capt. David O'Brien and Cian O'Connor, standing by the Wall. The collection captured every aspect of the show; mounted riders mid-flight, victors graciously accepting their trophies, the army band marching into the Arena, and rare glimpses behind the scenes, of course-builders and cameramen hard at work.

All prints that were on display are for sale and cards are also available. The exhibition was curated by Maymes Ansell and journalist Michael Slavin.

Vivat Linum: The RDS and the Irish Linen industry

Vivat Linum posterThis exhibition, curated by retired library staff member Mary Kelleher, examined the role the Society played in the development of the Irish linen industry in Ireland, north and south.

From its founding in 1731, the RDS has been involved in the creation and nurturing of the Irish linen industry. This exhibition explored the role of the Society through lavishly illustrated textual panels and objects.

This exhibition was shown at the Irish Agricultural Museum, Johnstown Castle in June, July and August 2009.


Further information about news and events in the RDS Library is available from the Library Desk at +353 (0)1 240 7254 or via email at

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