The google maps pin for Marsh’s library is currently in the wrong location, you can find us beside St Patrick’s Cathedral

Virtual birdwatching in Marsh’s

Green woodpecker, not native to Ireland

Spring is in the air and what better time so share the beautiful watercolour birds of Marsh’s Library. We have shared five videos (#1, #2, #3, #4, #5) on social media showcasing our books of birds painted by naturalist Eleazar Albin and his daughter Elizabeth and used to illustrate The history of birds, published in London between 1731-1738.


Oystercatcher, known as the olive (or sea pie) when it was painted

The two volumes of watercolours were donated to Marsh’s in 1803 by a Alexander Mangin as testament to the friendship between himself and Colonel Fitzwilliam, from whom he had received the books of birds. The paintings are done on vellum and usually have the names of the birds on the bottom right, although in many cases this was trimmed when the paintings were bound.



An index was added at some stage, but without all of the names, some guess work was involved as in some instances names have changed over time, like the kestrel, once known as a ‘windhoverer’, while in other places the indexer was just plain wrong.  Some errors may also have had a more nefarious cause; five of the paintings were stolen at some stage in the 19th century, and may have left gaps that caused confusion.

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