The National Library of Ireland
Long before digitisation was an option, just knowing what was published in Ireland in the first place was half the battle in locating potentially useful publications for research. In the 1980s, a major British Isles project called NEWSPLAN, led by the British Library and additional partners, including the National Library of Ireland, set itself the aim of cataloguing what was known to exist, and to make much of the content available on microfilm to participating libraries.
As a result, the National Library of Ireland ( NLI) website now hosts an online search tool, the Newspaper Database, which allows users to identify what is available both at the library itself in Dublin and at other Irish libraries beyond the capital. Located at www.nli.ie/en/cataloguesand- databases-printed-newspapers.aspx, the database permits users to search by the name of a title, a town or city, or by county. A search for County Sligo, for example, will reveal 15 titles for the county held at the library. Exploring the results gives more information – if you click on the Sligo Independent, it tells me that the paper was known as the Sligo Independent from 29 September 1855 to September 1921, and then as the Sligo Independent and West of Ireland Advertiser until it ceased publication in 1961. It also identifies which issues are held on microfilm, and which as hard copies.
If you now repeat the search but click on the option marked ‘Include titles from the Newsplan Project not held by the NLI’, you will find 16 titles listed in the return, instead of 15. Although the NLI holds the Sligo Chronicle from 1851-1893, it turns out that Sligo County Library holds copies of a separate newspaper of the same name, which ran from 1896-99, and which cannot be accessed in Dublin.