ICCCThe Library Collection:

The library, located on the ground floor of the UICC, contains more than 3,000 titles on a number of subjects regarding Ireland and Irish America:

Archaelogy, Architecture, Art, Biography, Cooking, Crafts, Genealogy, History(Ancient and Modern), Immigration, Literature (novels, poetry, plays and short stories), Music (including music scores), Mythology and Folklore, Religion, Sports, and Travel.

The library also has books written in the Irish language.

The Friends of the Patrick J. Dowling library:

The Friends of the Patrick J. Dowling library was set up to support the goals and mission of the library by sponsoring fund raisers, cultural & literary events, & classes, and by coordinating publicity. SUPPORT THIS WONDERFUL LIBRARY BY JOINING THE FRIENDS OF THE PATRICK J. DOWLING LIBRARY TODAY As a member, you will receive: special invitations to events and classes, no cost or reduced cost of admission to some events, and 5% reduction in price at book sales.

Library MIssion Statement & Goals



#########Treasures of the Patrick J. Dowling Library

 March 2016


Roger Casement – Conversation & Reflections


SUNDAY AUGUST 21, 2016 @ 3:00 PM
2700-45th Avenue, San Francisco

Join us for an afternoon of conversation and reflections on the life of one of the great heroes of the 1916 Rising by Diarmuid Philpott and Alan Lewis, song by Erin Thompson, readings by Josephine Coffey, Donagh McKeown & Valerie McGrew and a video presentation


And celebrate the launch of Dying for Ireland: The Last Days of Roger Casement by San Francisco writer Alan Lewis.  Mr. Lewis, the grandson of an Irish Jew, has been researching Casement’s life for more than a decade in hopes of bringing this remarkable story to American audiences.  He will give a short reading and will be available for sales and signing.  www.amazon.com/author/alan_lewis


A big thanks to Lyz Roberts, one of the library volunteers, who constructed and installed new shelves in the library’s rare book cabinet.  Come by the check it out-not only is it well done and aesthetically pleasing but now we can actually see most of the books!

One wonderful book I came across was the Sinn Fein Rebellion Handbook, Easter, 1916. Printed and published on August 8, 1916, it was compiled by the “Weekly Irish Times” Dublin and cost Sixpence with an additional charge for postage, home and foreign, of three pence. What is really incredible is that the publishers were able to achieve such a level of detail only a few months after the Rising

The handbook bills itself as “a complete and connected narrative of the Rising”. It relates detailed stories of the fighting in Dublin and in the countryside including the fighting at the Royal College of Surgeons-one of the last forts in Dublin to surrender and “an affray in the Fermoy district” in Co. Cork and gives accounts of skirmishes following the Rising itself like the story of the officers and civilians shot at Guinness’ and the subsequent trial and punishment of the shooters.  There are lists, street by street, of the houses that were destroyed by fire during the Rising, such as the house of Patrick Grey, wine agent at Middle Abbey Street. A copy of the proclamation gets prominent billing along with pictures of the signatories and other notable leaders like Eamon DeValera and the Countess Markievicz as well as pictures of prominent British officials and soldiers The official list of British casualties shows 300 were killed and 997 injured. The list includes the city of residence and the company of the soldiers, such as AG Elliott of Nottingham of the Sherwood Foresters. There are also lists of the rebels and their pictures including details such as their punishment-execution and imprisonment and deportation.   One compelling story is that of Mr. Sheehy-Skeffington who was arrested and shot even though he was a pacifist and did not take up arms. The handbook concludes with a WHO WHO’s  of the Rising-people like Colonel Sir Neville Francis Fitzgerald Chamberlain KCB, Robert Dillon who died trying to rescue his family from a burning building, and Edward DeValera, later known as Eamon DeValera,   described as commander of the rebels in Ringsend area and a professor of Mathematics.


Let no man write my epitaph: for as no man who knows my motives dare now vindicate them. Let not prejudice or ignorance asperse them. Let them and me repose in obscurity and peace, and my tomb remain uninscribed, until other times, and other men, can do justice to my character; when my country takes her place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written. I have done.” – Excerpt from Robert Emmet’s Speech from the Dock

The walls of the library are lined with maps, pictures and other memorabilia reflecting Irish history and culture. Several heroic figures from Irish history are featured in the collection including Robert Emmet. Robert Emmet, a Protestant and son of a Dublin doctor, was an Irish patriot, nationalist, and orator who led an unsuccessful rebellion against British rule. Convicted of high treason, he was most cruelly executed by being drawn, quartered & beheaded on September 20, 1803 in Dublin. One of four statues of Robert Emmet created by Jerome Connor in 1916 stands outside the California Academy of Sciences building near the Concourse in the Golden Gate Park. It was donated to the Park in 1919 by James D. Phelan, San Francisco mayor and son of Irish immigrants and dedicated by Eamon DeValera during a fund raiser of the US.

Each year the United Irish Societies of San Francisco remembers his heroism with Irish music, dance, and a recitation of his memorable Speech from Dock, which was first delivered on the eve of his execution. This year’s event will be held on August 23 at 12:00 noon in the Concourse area of the Golden Gate Park.


The tea party turned out to be a huge success. Everyone had a great time with hats galore-mad and not. Joanie O’Leary, Josie Brogan, Maureen Murphy and crew, wearing Alice in Wonderland costumes, surprised us all with a charming skit. Many thanks to Anne Carew and to Sally Cassidy for organizing the tea. Proceeds from the event exceeded $1,900 and will go to support the activities of the library. Thanks so much to all our many supporters.

Check out the UICC FaceBook Page for Photos!

Irish Language Map

Check out the library’s new map of Ireland, which has all the place names in the Irish language. It is on display next to our other large map of Ireland, which represents the country as it was about 100 years ago. They are part of the library’s small but interesting collection of maps of Ireland, including some modern ones which might come in handy when planning your next trip to Ireland.

GAA Memorabilia

In honor of the GAA anniversary-November 1, the library will be displaying its collection of GAA memorabilia throughout the month of November. The memorabilia will be on display Thursday, Friday, and Saturday from 1:30-4:30 pm except for the Thanksgiving weekend when the library will be closed.

BOOK SALE The book sale of duplicate books on St. Patrick’s Day was a huge success – thanks to the library’s supporters and to a great group of volunteers who worked for months to get the books ready for sale. The profit was in excess of $1200. If you were not able to attend the book sale but are interested in purchasing books, we are in the process of preparing a list of books still available for sale, which will be posted at the library and online.

PICTURE OF IRISH PIPERS BAND Patricia D’Arcy has donated a wonderful picture of the Irish Pipers Band from the mid 1930s for display in the library.  We are still trying to identify all the pipers.  Stop by the library and check out the picture and see if you can help us identify them.

O’Kief, Coshe Mang, Slieve Lougher and Upper Blackwater in Ireland . Albert Casey (ed.) Alabama: Knocknagree Historical Fund, 1952-1967. 13 volumes. If you or your ancestors came from north-west Cork or east Kerry, the area known as Sliabh Luachra, you might want to check out Albert Casey’s huge compilation of genealogical material from the area, which is in the library’s collection.  There are transcriptions of parish registers, reprints of Smith’s histories of Cork and Kerry, a reprint of an edition of the Annals of the Four Masters, transcriptions of gravestone inscriptions, copies of marriage and death notices from newspapers and Casey’s own speculations on the origins of the Celts and on the relationship of people on the west coast of Ireland to other European peoples.  Although the book has its faults,  it is an extremely valuable resource for anyone doing research about the Sliabh Luchra area. Prior to using the book for genealogical research, you should be prepared by reviewing the online index.  For more information, there are several online sources including: http://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~irlker/caseydescription.htmlhttp://www.rootsweb.ancestry.com/~irlker/casey.html

ACCOMPLISHMENTS Congratulations to our team of volunteers who accomplished so much during the last year.  Our accomplishments include the following:

  1. Development of  a talented team of volunteers-Samantha Cairo-Toby,  Josephine Coffey, Cristin Creighton, Pat Darcy, Patty Diner, Patty Dowling, Loretta Marcel, Valerie McGrew, Jean McNab, Lora Templeton
  2. Automating part of card catalog
  3. Development of the Facebook page
  4. Making substantial progress on the organization of the Irish book project
  5. Organizing  a successful fundraiser and raising over $2000
  6. Developing a reliable schedule for the library hours
  7. Sorting thru an extensive amount of  books in storage to determine what can be sold and what can be retained for the collection


#########Browse Our Titles:

New Titles: By Author / By Title
Genealogy Bibliography
Bulletins, Newsletters and Reports
NEW Videos – Patrons can view the videos on the library’s VCR.
NEWMicrofilm and Microfiche*

*Thanks to Thomas and Regina Wrin’s generous donation of microfilmed early San Francisco newspapers, census and city directories, patrons can research their Irish American ancestors that settled in the city as well as over 2,300 early Irish societies that existed here 1849-1927. Mr. Wrin’s Early San Francisco Newspaper Index (ESFNI) CD-ROM, available at the library, connects the researcher to the library’s microfilmed newspaper archives. Microfilm readers and printer, also donated by the Wrins, are available for use at the library. In addition, the library has microfilms and microfiche of various newspapers from other California counties, 1840-1860 Massachusetts census, and 1861-1863 Boston City Directories.


#########Scheduled Hours:

Thursday, Friday and Saturday: 1:30 to 4:30 pm.*
2700 45th Avenue San Francisco 94116 (Library entrance near Wawona St.)

It is advised to call or email the library before coming to confirm hours.
Phone: (415) 661-2798.  Use contact form below.




#########Reading Material Donations:

Interested in donating reading materials to the library? Please review the Library’s Donation Guidelines and Procedure and consult with the librarian before dropping off any materials.

One of the library’s goals is to add more books to the new Children’s Section. In particular, the library would like an Irish language dictionary for children, as well as books on Irish and Irish American history, culture and sports written for this age group.

The Friends of the Patrick J. Dowling library:

The Friends of the Patrick J. Dowling library was set up to support the goals and mission of the library by sponsoring fund raisers, cultural & literary events, & classes, and by coordinating publicity. SUPPORT THIS WONDERFUL LIBRARY BY JOINING THE FRIENDS OF THE PATRICK J. DOWLING LIBRARY TODAY As a member, you will receive: special invitations to events and classes, no cost or reduced cost of admission to some events, and 5% reduction in price at book sales.

Financial Contributions:

Please consider making a contribution to the Patrick J. Dowling Library.

Your contribution to The Irish Cultural Centre of California, a public not-for-profit 501(c)3, is fully tax deductible. 100% of your contribution will go directly to the upkeep of the Patrick J. Dowling Library. Contributions (cash or check) can be accepted during library hours (Thursday, Friday, Saturday 1:30 – 4:30pm).

For more information, please contact Librarian at library@irishcentersf.org or 415-661-2798.




  • The Patrick J. Dowling Library, which opened April 5, 1975, is the first all-Irish library in the United States
  • The library has inspired other Irish cultural centers in the U.S. to create their own all-Irish library
  •  Most of the collection has been donated
  • The oldest book in the library is Fingal, An Ancient Epic Poem by James MacPherson, published in 1763
  •  Nearly 1,000 people visited the library in 2009
  • There are approximately 5,000 books in the library
  • 885 new books were added to the library shelves in 2009
  • 758 books were donated to the library in 2009
  • The library also has newspapers, journals, magazines, books in the Irish language, books for children (in Irish and English), genealogy resources, sheet music, comedy and music cassettes, videos, and records
  • The library archives the history of the United Irish Cultural Center as well as the library
  •  Distinguished visitors include Gerry Adams, Member of Parliament and President of Sinn Fein; the late Senator Edward Kennedy; the late Speaker of the House Tip O’Neill; Albert Reynolds, Prime Minister of Ireland; Mary Robinson, President of Ireland; and filmmaker Maurice Fitzpatrick, scriptwriter and co-producer of the documentary Boys of St. Columb’s


  • Daniel Cassidy, author of How the Irish Invented Slang: The Secret Language of the Crossroads
  •  Professor John Walsh, Irish Language Lecturer at the University of Galway , gathered information on the Irish language spoken and taught in San Francisco from the library’s microfilm of the Monitor and Leader newspapers.
  • John Borgonovo, editor of Florence and Josephine O’Donoghue’s War of Independence.
  • Gerry Mullins, who wrote the text to Dorothea Lange’s Ireland, the Oakland Museum ‘s exhibition catalog
  • Rose Murphy, author of Ella Young, Irish Mystic and Rebel: From Literary Dublin to the American West


  • Borstal Boy, signed by author Brendan Behan
  • Collected Poems of Padraic Colum, signed by the author
  • The Aran Islands by J.M. Synge, drawings by Jack Yeats
  • Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland edited and translated by John O’Donovan, published 1848-1851
  • Eamon de Valera, by the Earl of Longford and Thomas P. O’Neil. Signed by de Valera.
  • Fairy Legends and Traditions of the South of Ireland by Thomas Crofton Croker
  • Days of Fear by Frank Gallagher. First edition signed by author
  •  Deirdre signed by author James Stephens
  • Sinn Fein Rebellion Handbook Easter, 1916


  • Servant of the Queen: Reminiscences by Maud Gonne McBride, signed by author
  • My Kilkenny I.RA .Days 1916-1922 by James J. Comerford. Only three other U.S. libraries have this book.
  • Eamon de Valera’s 1920 speech to the U.S. government requesting recognition of Ireland as an independent state
  • Rebel Cork’s Fighting Story from 1916 to the Truce with Britain
  •  Kiskeam Versus the Empire by J.J. O Riordain. The Library of Congress in Washington D.C. is the closest library that has this book.
  •  Bound copies of the Nation newspaper, published in New York , 1848-1849 and the Irish Miscellany newspaper, published in Boston , 1858
  •  Irish Folk Music, compiled by Captain Francis O’Neill. First edition and signed by O’Neill.
  •  Big Tree of Bunlahy: Stories of My Countryside by Padraic Colum and illustrated by Jack Yeats
  • The Year of the Irish Hunger Strike, published by the Irish Northern Aid Committee
  •  Ireland’s Fight for Freedom, signed by author George Creel


  • Patrons seeking information about President Obama’s Irish roots
  • UC Berkeley Haas fellow researching Irish prisoners in English jails 1916-1946 was elated finding a document relating to this subject, the very same document not available to him during his summer visit to an Irish library. According to him, the Dowling library has more books on Ireland than the entire UC library system.
  • Patron researching Irish myth and folklore for Ulster Cycle Conference presentation held in Coleraine in Summer 2009 said the library’s resources were “invaluable”.
  • City College student researching the women’s suffrage movement in Ireland
  • City College student researching Father Peter Yorke and the labor movement in San Francisco
  • St. Ignatius student researching the pros and cons of Eamon de Valera
  • Walsh scholarship applicants gathering information for their essays submissions. They won.
  •  Middle school student needing photos/illustrations of coffin ships for Irish immigration project
  • Patron photocopied map of his family’s ancestral town for his second grader grandson’s school project
  • Patrons interested in information on the origin of their family surnames and their Irish roots in San Francisco
  • Fiddler listening to cassette of Irish fiddle master Michael Coleman
  • Parents reading Irish fairy tales with their children
  • Caterer looking for information on the history of Irish cooking
  • Patrons interested in these subjects: knitting, military history, Scots Irish immigration, literature, music, travel, language, pirate queen Grace O’Malley, the Celts, Brian Boru, the KRB, Ireland during World War II, the Kennedy family, recipes and how the harp became the national symbol of Ireland
  • Emails from other states and abroad from people seeking genealogy assistance


ICCCHistory of the Patrick J. Dowling Library

Named after its first library director, Patrick J. Dowling (1904-1998), the library opened on April 5, 1975, a month after the United Irish Cultural Center opened.

Dowling immigrated from Camross, County Laois, arriving in San Francisco in 1926. When plans were made to build the United Irish Cultural Center, it was Dowling’s idea to create an all-Irish library and archives. To accomplish this, he set aside his real estate business to travel in the U.S. and Ireland, soliciting book and journal donations. Homes and businesses served as donation centers. Initially he brought the books back with him or paid for their shipment to San Francisco. Later, an acquaintance in the shipping business took over the job of transporting donated materials without charge.

Until the construction of the center was completed, Dowling and Dan and Margaret Keohane stored the library materials in their homes. Mary Green, a librarian originally from Dublin, cataloged these first donations. The Patrick J. Dowling Library inspired other Irish communities in the U.S. and abroad to create an all-Irish library.

Consul General of Ireland, Brendan Moran, and City Librarian, Kevin Starr, were some of the many notable attendees at the library’s dedication. Following the ceremony, a luncheon for approximately 150 was held at the center.

Mr. Dowling authored “California, the Irish Dream (1988) and “Irish Californians (1998), which are part of the library’s many resources on Irish America.

The library’s guestbooks chronicle visits by people from all around the world, including several distinguished people such as Tip O’Neill (pictured above), former speaker of the United States House of Representatives; Albert Reynolds, Prime Minister of Ireland; and Mary Robinson, President of Ireland. Over the years, dedicated volunteers — professional library workers, bibliophiles, and supporters of Irish and Irish-American culture — have generously given their time to keep the library going. And thanks to bighearted donors, the library’s collection continues to grow, connecting patrons to all things Irish and Irish American. Past Library Directors: Patrick J. Dowling, 1975-1993; Thomas J. Carey, 1993-July 1999; Kevin J. Mullen, August 1999-2004; Joan Riordan Manini, 2004-January 2008.

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Special Events 2018

“A Place For All Things Irish” Exhibit


Aug 16 – Dec 31

On The Big Screen

♫Music @ The Bar♫

Upcoming Events

Thu 23

IIPC: Day Trip To Graton Casino

August 23 @ 8:00 am
Thu 23

Set Dancing Classes

August 23 @ 7:30 pm - 9:15 pm
Tue 28

Cairde Café/Coffee Morning

August 28 @ 10:00 am - 12:30 pm
Thu 30

Set Dancing Classes

August 30 @ 7:30 pm - 9:15 pm
Sep 13

Set Dancing Classes

September 13 @ 7:30 pm - 9:15 pm

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