‘Epoch-making’ new biography spans 2000 years of Irish characters

The newly published Dictionary for Irish Biography has become the most authorative biographical resource ever published in Ireland. Spanning 2‘000 years of history and with over 9‘000 entries, the nine volume work was hailed by Taoiseach Brian Cowen as “The most significant Irish publication of the 21st century so far”
The wide-ranging biography, consisting of over eight million words, will describe and assess the careers of  Irish figures who have made significant contributions in Ireland and abroad. It will be especially significant in helping sustain Irish studies courses throughout the world. UCD Professor John McGuire described the painstaking process involved in compiling the volumes. “Lack of sources, for example, has meant that some entries are shorter than would otherwise be warranted. A paucity of written sources can apply to a variety of groups such as early medieval subjects, craft workers, sportsmen and even modern entrepreneurs, few of whom seem to have left substantial written records.”
The publication was greeted with warmth by more than just academics. Nobel Laureate Seamus Heaney called the event “epoch-making…It changes the state of knowledge in the twenty-first century as decidedly as the Ordnance Survey did in the nineteenth”.
Novelist Colm Toibin echoed these sentiments. “The Dictionary of Irish Biography will be greeted with delight by all those who study Irish literature and Irish history. It will not only make life easier for scholars and students, but become a palimpsest of the Irish achievement over many centuries.”