Blog‎ > ‎

Jackie Clarke Library, Ballina, Ireland

posted Apr 3, 2019, 4:41 PM by Bernard O'Hara
The Jackie Clarke Library in Ballina, County Mayo, in the west of Ireland, is one of the big attractions of the region. It was opened to the public on 15 June 2013, and contains an amazing accumulation of more than 100,000 items relating to Irish history over four centuries, especially the struggle for Irish freedom. It was assembled over a lifetime by one person, Ballina businessman and politician, Jackie Clarke (1927-2000), and gifted in perpetuity to Mayo County Council and the Irish State by his widow, Anne, in 2005. After his early education in Ballina and later in Blackrock College in Dublin, he established a very successful fish-processing business in his native town. Jackie Clarke served as a councillor on Ballina Town Council from 1957 to 1974 and held the office of cathaoirleach (chairperson) in 1960 and 1968. His passion became attending antiquarian and second-hand book sales in Ireland and abroad, purchasing Irish historical books, maps and documents. The collection is housed in the former Provincial Bank on Pearse Street. Now a listed building, it was designed by Thomas Newenham Deane in the 1880s, and acquired by Mayo County Council. It was completely renovated and refurbished to store and exhibit the Jackie Clarke Library.
The Jackie Clarke Library contains several unique, rare, and important items. It has an original copy of the 1916 Proclamation, a rare 1917 Proclamation issued by Cumann na mBan to remember the first anniversary of the Rising, and the largest collection of material relating to the 1916 Easter Rising stored outside Dublin, including manuscripts, photographs and personal items relating to all the leaders. It also includes the French revolutionary tricolour taken from Theobald Wolfe Tone’s hat by his captors at Lough Swilly, County Donegal, on 16 September 1798, as well as letters from Michael Collins, Douglas Hyde, Michael Davitt and O’Donovan Rossa. It also contains rare books, numerous maps, posters, political cartoons, legal documents, pamphlets, reports, letters, minute books, articles, hand-bills, and several photographs, as well as a big collection of newspapers. The collection contains an autograph book signed by members of the First Dáil in 1919 and the signatories of the Treaty in 1921. It also contains Jackie Clarke’s own scrapbooks and his press cuttings for over fifty years. The collection has been classified by theme, and interpreted in various ways to facilitate dissemination, including display cases, digital technology, and numerous wall panels. Only a fraction of the collection is on display, but there is a searchable user-friendly inventory available for visitors and researchers. Overall, it is the most important private collection of Irish historical material in public hands. This free library is open to the public.(
Exploring Mayo by Bernard O’Hara is now available Worldwide as an eBook for the amazon Kindle application.
The print version of Bernard O’Hara’s book Exploring Mayo can be obtained by contacting also sell the print versions of Killasser - Heritage of a Mayo Parish , Anseo and Davitt.
Bernard O'Hara's book entitled Killasser: Heritage of a Mayo Parish is now on sale in the USA and UK as a paperback book at, or Barnes and Noble
It is also available as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from and (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from (Nook tablet and eReader).
An earlier publication, a concise biography of Michael Davitt, entitled Davitt by Bernard O’Hara published in 2006 by Mayo County Council , is now available as Davitt: Irish Patriot and Father of the Land League by Bernard O’Hara, which was published in the USA by Tudor Gate Press ( and is available from and It can be obtained as an eBook from the Apple iBookstore (for reading on iPad and iPhone), from and (Kindle & Kindle Fire) and from (Nook tablet and eReader).