‘To preserve, examine and illustrate all ancient monuments and memorials of the arts, manners and customs of the past, as connected with the antiquities, language, literature and history of Ireland.’

Welcome to the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland


Our website is currently undergoing renovation, please bear with us as we restore our online services.

Members' Survey

We are very grateful to the loyalty of our members and are keen that you as members enjoy all that the Society has to offer. We are seeking your ideas on how we can improve on this. Please do take the time to participate in our member’s survey and give us your ideas on how the Society might better cater to your needs. We hope to use members’ responses to this to tailor our programme of events next year.

Click here to take survey

The Society

The Society's goals are achieved today through the Society's annual programme of lectures, talks and excursions and by the publication of its journal, received by all members. The Society is actively involved in the preservation of Ireland's national heritage.

Through its council and country-wide membership the Society is actively involved in the preservation of our national heritage. Members are entitled to use the Society’s library which contains books on Irish history, antiquities and archaeological and historical journals published in Ireland, Great Britain and on the continent.

The Council

The affairs of the Society are conducted by the president, officers and council, whose services are entirely voluntary.

Anyone subscribing to the aims of the society, subject to approval by council, may be elected to membership.

President: Dr Rachel Moss
Joint Hon. Gen. Secretaries: Dr Niall Brady & Dr Kelly Fitzgerald
Hon. Treasurer: Mr Brian Dornan
Director: Ms Niamh McCabe
Librarian: Mr Donal Fenlon

The Journal

The Journal is an annual publication which has been published since 1849, and which is distributed free to all members.

Contents of the Journal from 1860 onwards may be found on Thaddeus Breen's Journal website.


The Society endeavours to offer its members opportunities to purchase new and relevant publications at a special reduced rate.

Book Description Purchase
Pathfinders pre-publication offer

The Society is pleased to announce the up-coming publication of 'Pathfinders'. Compiled in celebration of the 150th anniversary of the Society, this collection of essays by distinguished scholars in a variety of academic fields examines the remarkable course of antiquarian enquiry from the seventeenth to the twentieth century. By placing the antiquarians in chronological order by date of birth, one senses an evolving pattern reflecting social conditions and concerns over that period of time. Scholars such as Harris, Hardiman, Petrie, Reeves and Westropp have been the subject of historical comment in the past, but usually in isolation from one another. Here one can see patterns of change and development, perhaps for the first time in this context. Illustrations have been selected from the resources of the Society and of the Royal Irish Academy with a view to reinforcing, through images, an original approach to the advent of professional historiography in this country. The editors are Professor Pr&oscute;ins&escute;as N&iscute; Chath&ascute;in emeritus professor of Old Irish at University College Dublin and the current librarian of the Royal Irish Academy Dr Siobh&ascute;n Fitzpatrick with the honorary editor of the Society, Dr Howard Clarke.

This publication will be available in shops for €50, but we can offer our members a copy of the publication at the special reduced pre-publication price of €40.

If you wish to pay using paypal please choose the relevant option from the drop-down menu, then click on the button to the left, select Pathfinders and follow the instructions.


Landscapes of Cult and Kingship

To tie-in with our Spring Excursion the Society, together with our friends in Four Courts Press, are offering members the chance to buy Landscapes of Cult and Kingship at the reduced price of €40 (retail price €50). The book is edited by Roseanne Schott who will led us on our Uisneach trip.

If you wish to pay using paypal please choose the relevant option from the drop-down menu, then click on the button to the left of the page, select Landscapes of Cults and Kingship and follow the instructions.

Facility Description Notes
Library Laid out in 1918, our restored library houses a collection of books, journals and archive materials that document Ireland’s human and built heritage from the most distant past to the present day. Gathered over 160 years and comprising more than 10,000 printed works, the collection includes Irish and international sources on archaeology, folklore and local history. It also includes over 100,000 photographs and drawings of national importance. The library has an intimate ambience and setting ideal for evening events such as book launches and readings. Open Monday-Friday,10:00am - 12:00pm and 2:00pm-4:00pm For email enquiries to the Library contact Librarian mailing
The Helen Roe Theatre Our Theatre is a fully equipped modern lecture room situated at basement level and directly accessible from the street. Facilities: Seating capacity of 100, Data projector and screen, Microphone sound system, Dimmer-controlled lighting, wireless internet access. The Meeting Rooms
The Meeting Rooms The meeting rooms are situated on the first floor of Society house, overlooking Merrion Square to the front and a restored Georgian garden to the rear. Their marble fireplaces, elaborate ceiling decorations and tall, shuttered windows all reflect their former status as the main reception spaces of the house. The rooms are now used for meetings, receptions and presentations. Facilities: Dining/boardroom table seating 20, Standing capacity of 80, Wireless internet access.
The Garden The garden of Society House is the only surviving Georgian townhouse garden in Dublin city. It has been fully restored to its original late 18th-century splendour, giving visitors a rare insight into the private lives of Dublin¹s affluent citizens over two hundred years ago. This recently completed project was undertake by the RSAI, with the support of the Irish Georgian Society. It provides an elegant setting for outdoor events, product launches and receptions. The mews of No. 63 has also been restored and is currently available as holiday accommodation from the Irish Landmark Trust For an estimate of cost, or any further queries please do not hesitate to contact the office at (01) 6761749 Monday to Thursday

Please take a look at the new brochure advertising the facilities for hire at Society House. Download Brochure.

The Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland was founded in 1849 as the Kilkenny Archaeological Society, by a group of young men with broadly archaeological and historical interests who were based in the Kilkenny area. The aim of the Society was the preservation and illustration of the antiquities of Kilkenny, city and county, although this later spread to cover a far wider area.

Indeed, by 1868 it had become the ‘Historical and Archaeological Association of Ireland’, reflecting its exponential growth, partly due to the widespread circulation of its Journal. In 1869 it was granted a Royal Charter, and the right to elect Fellows.

The two first, and highly dynamic, Honorary General Secretaries, the Revd James Graves, right, (1815-1886), and John G.A. Prim (1821-1875), a newspaper man, were responsible for its establishment and initial success.

Their knowledge of local antiquities was matched by the idealism of the organisation itself, which was non-sectarian and non political, including the Catholic Robert Cane, later Mayor of Kilkenny, as well as Philip Moore, a Catholic priest who remained a close friend of Prim’s to the end of his life and Dean Vignoles, a Protestant clergyman, of Clonmacnoise.

Its subscription rate, at 5 shillings a year, was also very modest in comparison with most English archaeological societies, many of which kept up high subscription rates with the intention of promoting a socially exclusive and often highly aristocratic membership.

The Society’s early aims included the conservation of endangered buildings, and it carried out valuable work at Clonmacnoise, Co. Offaly where the chancel arch of the Nuns' Church was reconstructed, Jerpoint Cistercian Abbey, Co. Kilkenny and St Francis Abbey in Kilkenny city.

Its interest in preservation was also reflected in the Museum it built up of objects donated by various members, as well as those objects found during the archaeological excavations it carried out itself, or acquired through modest purchase. Many items from the Kilkenny Museum subsequently became part of the collections of the National Museum of Ireland.

The Society achieved its aim of illustration of antiquities, not only through the published Journal, which from the first contained both lithographs and engravings, (later photographs), but also by a comprehensive effort to photograph the antiquities of the 32 counties of Ireland.

After the Society’s move to Dublin in the 1890s, it came eventually to occupy the premises on Merrion Square in 1918, where it is still to be found. It now fulfils its original aims through the maintenance of its library and archival collections and provision of lectures and excursions, as well as the continued publication of its Journal, which is one of the most respected publications in the field of Irish archaeology and history today.

With a membership of over one-thousand the Society certainly fulfils its aims to “Preserve, Examine and Illustrate” and the vibrant membership is vital in this process.


Membership of the Society is open to all, subject to approval by the Council. Members are entitled to use the Society's library, participate fully in all Society events, and receive a copy of the Journal every year.

Online Payment

For the convenience of members, it is now possible to pay membership subscriptions using paypal or to set up a standing order.

If you wish to pay using paypal please choose the relevant option from the drop-down menu, then click on the subscribe button below and follow the instructions.

Other Payment options

Standing Orders

If you wish to set up a standing order please contact us to request a form.

Payment By cheque

Those wishing to apply for membership should download and print out this form, and return by post with the relevant fee to:

The Honorary General Secretary
63 Merrion Square, Dublin 2, Ireland

Opening Hours

Office opening hours:

Monday - Thursday 10:00-16:45, closed 12:45-14:00.

Please note library will be closed next Thursday, 28th November.

Library opening hours:

Monday - Friday 10:00-12:00 and 14:00-16:00


Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland
63 Merrion Square
Dublin 2


+353 1 676 1749