E. R. McClintock Dix, Henry Bradshaw on Printing in Ireland , in The Irish Book Lover , Vol. I, No. 2 (Aug. 1909), 13.
Henry Bradshaw was the pre-eminent bibliographer of his day in England, and the only one who took a real and a deep interest in Irish bibliography. His research and knowledge were amazing; therefore anything that can be gleaned from his words or writings upon Printing in Ireland is of great value and utility and should be preserved. For this reason, I think, to reproduce the report in the Freeman's Journal of October the 3rd, 1884, of his speech on Printing in Ireland delivered at Trinity College Dublin, before the Library Association, in that year, is desirable. (E. R. Mc. Dix.)
'Mr. Henry Bradshaw, Librarian of the University of Cambridge, made a communication on the subject of Printing in Ireland-what he desired to do was to appeal to them to assist him in getting materials for a history of Printing in Ireland. He suggested that in every chief library of the provinces, a collection or museum should be formed in order to show everything that had been printed or published in that locality. If an entire room could not be devoted to the purpose, a book case might, at all events a record might be made. The task might be assigned to a subordinate officer connected with the library who would have an aptitude for it. The collection would perhaps include rubbish, but for their purpose, rubbish ceased to be such, when put in order. Every newspaper or scrap of information illustrative of their object, should be included. His interest in the question arose from the circumstance that his father and mother were natives of the North of Ireland, and he had been always interested in everything connected with Irish books. The catalogue should embrace books of Irish affairs, books produced by Irish writers, and books produced by Irish presses. With respect to books on Irish affairs, there was not much difficulty in finding them anywhere. The great object was to get at those sources of information which were subsidiary to the writing of history; and this was more essential than ever at, present, when the study of History was being more than ever placed on a scientific-or at, all events a methodical basis. Where each author lived and printed his book should be taken into account. The utility of what he proposed was illustrated by what had occurred in the past. Bale, Bishop of Ossory, in the reign of Edward VI, was a man unpopular in some quarters at, the time, in consequence of his, having a free, tongue-as free perhaps as some of those they had heard-but he had an intense love of literature, and he lamented the destruction of the earlier literature of that reign, that had taken place in consequence of the prejudice against what was called Popish. Shortly before the end of his life he brought out a Catalogue of Writers during a period of 1400 years, the last two centuries being assigned to Scottish and, Irish, writers. In 1639 Sir James Ware produced a book on the writers of Ireland in which he included not only natives of Ireland who had written books, but also foreigners who had made Ireland their home. His work came down to 1600. In 1746 was published Harris's History , which included every writer of Ireland who had printed the merest pamphlet down to 1700. That history was, sometimes spoken lightly of by those who use it, but it contains a mass of information which could, be found nowhere else. Although a strong Protestant he was softened by the nature of his pursuits, and corresponded with Irish Catholics on the Continent, including the Franciscans of Louvain. He (Mr. Bradshaw) did not know of any other work of a similar kind down to Dr. Madden's Periodical Literature published in 1867, and containing a sketch of printing in Ireland down to that time. Very little had been done towards forming a history of the Irish Printing Press. In the course of his remarks, Mr. Bradshaw mentioned that the first Irish newspaper he had ever found any mention of was one galled The Irish Monthly Mercury , published at Cork , in 1649. In 1659 there was a Newsletter published in Dublin , which had leading articles like those of the Daily Telegraph , besides news, letters, and advertisements. Mr. Gilbert's History of Dublin was a valuable source of information. The author told him that he was only twenty four years of age, when he wrote it, and that it was full of mistakes, but it and other works should be estimated according to the positive information contained rather, than any errors that occurred in them. A distinctly Irish library had been made by Mr. Evelyn P. Shirley, of the County of Monaghan.
Henry Bradshaw (1831-1886), the father of modern bibliography, was descended from a Quaker family long settled at Milecross, in County Down, his, mother being one of the Stewarts of Ballintoy, Co. Antrim. His father bequeathed him a large collection of Irish books, to which he owed the foundation of his bibliographical studies, and to these he went on adding all his life. Educated at Eton and King's College, Cambridge , where he graduated B.A., Bradshaw for a while became a master at St. Columba's College, Dublin . Returning to Cambridge , he was appointed assistant librarian to the University Library in 1856. Here his future life-work lay, and what that work was is well known to all latter day students of bibliography, which he raised to the rank of an exact science. In 1870 he presented to the library the whole of his Irish collection, which is described in the Library Report as 'a collection of books and papers, pamphlets and broadsides either (1) printed in Ireland, or (2) written by Irish authors, or (3) relating - generally to Irish affairs, about 5,000 in number.' In his letter to the Vice-Chancellor, offering the gift, Bradshaw writes: 'I have a considerable collection of books, pamphlets and other printed papers relating to Ireland. The basis of it is the Irish portion of my father's library, that portion of it in which, as coming from the North of Ireland, he took most interest, and which at his death in 1845, he left to me. For several years I did a good deal to increase the collection, especially in the matter of pamphlets. . More than forty years ago when public libraries were less plentifully supplied than they are now, literary men used to come to my father's house to work at these books, when engaged in writing upon Irish affairs, and from the time that I was a child, they have had a particular interest for me. There are about 1,000 bound volumes, and of the pamphlets and other printed papers, there are roughly speaking, about 2,700 in octavo, 700 in quarto, and 500 in folio, including proclamations, broadsides, and flysheets.' The collection was enlarged at his death, by the addition of such Irish books as he had acquired since 1870. The Univeruity authorities have never been able to afford to print a catalogue of this splendid legacy, although a card index may be consulted on the premises. His love for his Irish books ended only with his life, and one of his last letters, written only four days before his death, was to Mr. John Anderson, then engaged upon his Catalogue of Early Belfast Printed Books , sending him numerous titles from his own and other collections. On the morning of the 11th February, 1886, he was found dead 'sitting in his arm chair, at the table in his inner room ... a little Irish book, closed, lay on the table in front of him. The ruling passion strong in death. His life, by G. W. Prothero, has been published (8vo., London 1888), and the Henry Bradshaw Society founded to commemorate his name and services to bibliography. (Ed.)