By Yvette Campbell, Assistant Librarian, Russell Library Cataloguing Project
The Furlong Collection contains approximately 1,349 antiquarian books, with items ranging in date from the 16th to the 19th century. This unique treasure was donated to the Russell Library following the closure of the House of Missions in 1993. It is a rich representation of Christian doctrinal and theological literature, containing works of ecclesiastical history, scripture, theology, philosophy, ethics and liturgy.
Thomas Furlong (1802-75)
Thomas Furlong was born in 1802 in Moyglass, Co Wexford to land-owning parents. He spent five years in the seminary in Wexford before arriving in Maynooth in 1819 and was ordained as a priest in 1826. Bishop Furlong served in Maynooth for over 30 years, taking up posts as Dean, Professor of Humanity, Rhetoric, and Theology. He was ordained Bishop of Ferns in 1857.
An improvement in the college grant in 1845 resulted in better pay for Maynooth staff and PhD students. Thomas Furlong was one of many who used these extra funds to create substantial personal libraries. His collection was so comprehensive that he reported to the 1853 Maynooth Commission that “having endeavoured to provide myself with nearly all the works which I require in my department, I rarely visit the Library with the view of consulting writers on divinity” (Neligan, 1995, p.14).