The Library & Research Service holds a collection of historical documents as well as Documents Laid before the Oireachtas since the foundation of the State.

Ireland through the decades

This exhibition highlights documents laid before the Oireachtas in each decade since 1920. It provides an insight into some of the significant events in Irish society over the last ninety years.

Approaches to mental health

This exhibition traces the major shift in the provision of care for the mentally ill and destitute from the 19th century to the early years of the 20th century.

Online catalogue

Search the complete collection of historical documents and Documents Laid before the Houses of the Oireachtas.

What is the Documents Laid collection?

Documents Laid are documents that are formally submitted to the Houses of the Oireachtas.

Documents may be laid in obedience to a statute or in order to fulfil an order from one or both House of the Oireachtas, or simply in order to help Members of the Dáil or Seanad in the execution of their duties.
The Oireachtas Library has maintained a collection of documents laid since the establishment of the Irish Free State. Approximately 2,000 documents are laid each year. The process of laying a document was originally a paper-based procedure, whereby anyone wishing to lay a document was required to complete a paper form and submit it along with six copies of the document in question. However, since 2012, an electronic documents laid facility has been in place. Documents laid before 2009 are now also available online as a result of an initiative which saw the cleaning, cataloguing, conservation and digitisation of parts of the collection.


Maps combine art, history and geography but also commercial interests and can take on agendas as well. The Theatrum Orbis Terrarum (Theatre of the World) by Abraham Ortelius was a sublime combination of these and was the first effort to bind together maps in a universal format with descriptive text, what we now know as an atlas. The name atlas is used for a collection of maps or charts usually bound together and derives from a custom which was initiated by cartographer Gerardus Mercator in the 16th century of using the figure of Atlas, shown holding a globe, as a frontispiece for books of maps. We are fortunate in having a map of Ireland from the 1592 edition of the Theatrum in our collection but we also have some later maps of interest

The Oireachtas Library

When the Irish Free State came into existence in 1922, there was an immediate need to form a library to tend to the need of elected officials. This exhibition traces the development of the Oireachtas Library.

Building Modern Ireland

This exhibition highlights material in our collections dating from our foundation as a new Free State in 1922 to the present. It allows a re-examination of a range of circumstances and conditions and opens up questions concerning our nation, its history and future.

Ireland and the Crown

Several hundred years of Irish history is represented by the items in our printed collections. Individually, they give us an insight into the time they were created in. As a whole, they embody stories of ambition, personal and political oppression, hope and revolution that reveal much about a changing and evolving society. These documents hint at a bigger and often forgotten history of objects and the fact that Irish society has constantly been shaped through our interactions with foreign cultures.

Research bursary reports

In 2012, the Library & Research Service awarded a number of research bursaries to delve into the Oireachtas historical collections. The recipients of these bursaries undertook short-term, highly focused work on aspects of the collection. You can read the reports here.