Dictionary of Irish biography : from the earliest times to the year 2002 /

Corporate Author: Royal Irish Academy.
Other Authors: McGuire, J. I., Quinn, James, 1961-
Format: Book
Language: English
Published: Cambridge : Cambridge University Press : 2009.
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Review by Choice Review

As with similar biographical works, this dictionary brings together subjects deceased before 2002--saints, sinners, scholars, poets, scientists, politicians, or any innovator or public figure born in Ireland, or born elsewhere but with a noteworthy career in Ireland. Considering the potential number of subjects, limiting the choice to just 9,000 entries must have been a significant challenge to the editors and writer. That they succeeded is a testament to the scholarship and work of the editorial team, including that of its late chair, the distinguished Celtic scholar Proinsias Mac Cana (1926-2004), sponsored by the Royal Irish Academy since the project's inception in 1988. The subjects of the entries are revealing in the information provided. For example, this reviewer learned some new facts about the life of Irish American writer Donn Byrne (1889-1928), despite having written a similar biography for American National Biography, ed. by J. A. Garraty and M. C. Carnes (CH, Sep'99, 37-0001; online, CH, Mar'06, 43-3727). This is partly attributable to the increasingly interdisciplinary nature of historical research. Indeed, this dictionary's broad range of names is a result of this too; many pioneering women are included, and coverage extends into areas such as arts and crafts, and philanthropy.The usual suspects were rounded up and include Colum Cille, ca. 521-597; St. Patrick, ca. 420-490?; and Arthur Guinness, 1725-1803. The work also features lesser-known or mostly forgotten figures, such as William Hazlitt, 1737-1820, Unitarian minister, great defender of human rights, and father of the infamous radical writer of the same name. Many subjects are cited by their Anglicized names, such as Sir Cahir O Doherty, but usually have reference to their Irish names as well (O Dochartaigh). The dictionary is organized alphabetically by last name and comes complete with the prerequisite list of editors, advisers, and contributors. The online edition has a very good search function, which includes advanced options, such as searching by contributor. Summing Up: Highly recommended. Lower-level undergraduates through faculty/researchers; general readers. J. J. Doherty Northern Arizona University

Copyright American Library Association, used with permission.
Review by Booklist Review

Published in collaboration with the Royal Irish Academy, the Dictionary of Irish Biography (DIB) contains over 9,000 entries covering 9,700 lives and written by more than 700 contributors. Coverage starts with the beginning of written records in the fifth century, and ends in 2002. Subjects had to have been born in Ireland with careers in Ireland, to have been born in Ireland with careers outside Ireland, or to have been born outside Ireland with careers in Ireland. As with DIB's English and American cousins, Oxford Dictionary of National Biography (2005) and American National Biography (1999), no living persons are included. Articles range in length from 200 to 15,000 words, and each includes a list of source material. See references help point the user to the right entry headings. DIB was published simultaneously online and in print and will be updated online twice a year. The print set has no indexing; one must go online to get at content in any way other than A-Z. In addition to a quick search by Name or Full Text and a browse search by Name or Contributor, DIB Online has an Advanced Search that offers numerous options, starting with Name, Gender, Birth Date, Death Date, and Floruit (that is, activity) Date. Other options are Place of either birth or death (Irish counties are listed as well as countries), Religion, Occupation/Field of Interest, and Contributor. A Free Text search is also available. The default sort in a Results list is alphabetical, but this can be changed to Relevance, Birth Date, Death Date, Place of Birth, or Place of Death. From the Results page, searches can be refined. For example, a list of the 895 individuals classified under Literature can be narrowed down to 13 women who are also classified under Irish Language. Results can be refined by date and place of birth and death as well, but only if exact years or places are known. Searches can be saved, and biographies can be bookmarked, e-mailed, shared, exported, and viewed in full screen or as PDFs. Because the scope of Oxford Dictionary of National Biography includes Ireland, libraries that already own that set may not need to add DIB. It is an essential resource for academic libraries supporting Irish studies collections, however. In these days of shrinking print reference collections, the online version is probably the preferred choice.--Quinn, Mary Ellen Copyright 2010 Booklist

From Booklist, Copyright (c) American Library Association. Used with permission.
Review by Library Journal Review

Billed as the most comprehensive and authoritative biographical reference work on Ireland, this solid scholarly resource boasts over 9000 entries composed by some 700 contributors, covering subjects from the fifth century C.E. through 2002. No living people are included; the most recent entry is Dorothy Walker, a writer and critic who died in December 2002. Entries provide biographical information along with an assessment of the career and achievements of subjects in the arts, sciences, politics, sports, and religion. Subjects include those born and achieving fame in Ireland, those born in Ireland but achieving fame outside the country, and those born outside the country but achieving fame in Ireland. Entrants were selected on the basis of their interest to scholars in the 21st century, and a particular effort was made to include women, often overlooked in earlier works. Individual entries are written by recognized experts on the subjects; for example, the entry on W.B. Yeats is by Terence Brown, author of The Life of W.B. Yeats (Blackwell, 1999). Those producing this resource come with impressive credentials, especially McGuire, who is chair of the Irish Manuscripts Commission and a member of the Royal Irish Academy, under whose auspices the work was published. Bottom Line Highly recommended for academic libraries and larger public libraries where there is an interest in Celtic studies. [The work has been published simultaneously both in print and in online formats. For more information, go to dib.cambridge.org.-Ed.]-Denise J. Stankovics, Vernon, CT (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

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