Almost 2,000 rare and antique books, including the first Belfast printing of the poems of Robert Burns, will be opened up to the public thanks to a £50,000 lottery windfall.
A Heritage Lottery Fund grant has been awarded to Belfast’s Linen Hall Library to catalogue and restore its ‘Languages of |Ulster’, which features works in Irish, Scots and Ulster-Scots as well as Latin, French, Spanish, German, Chinese and Italian.
Rare books include the 1722 Rathlin Catechism and an account of the Battle of the Boyne written in Spanish. It’s the first time this collection has been viewed by the public and many of the books date back as early as the 15th century.
The jewels of the collection are to go on display in an exhibition and the library is to hold a programme of lectures and workshops so the public can learn more about conservation skills.
“We have manuscripts that haven’t seen the light of day in over 100 years,” Linen Hall librarian John Killen said.
“We have the first English-Irish dictionary published in Paris in 1732 — Irish type wasn't cast there until 1730. The reason it was cast was that seminarians had to go to the Irish College in Paris.”