Armagh, the Enlightenment and American Independence

For nearly two hundred and fifty years Armagh Robinson Library has been a treasure house of the Enlightenment. On its shelves are books by the scientists, philosophers and political thinkers who shaped that transformative period in European civilisation, and which flowered too in the early life and development of the United States. Its collections also represent the recovery of classical literature, art and architecture from which the movement drew so much inspiration. As intended by Archbishop Richard Robinson, its founder, the Library preserves this inheritance for the City of Armagh and the wider world.

Dean Gregory Dunstan, Governor and Guardian of the Library, said, “Armagh Robinson Library exists to bring history to life, to celebrate it as part of our common heritage, and to enable it to shed light upon the issues of today. To this end, we invited guest speakers to speak on the theme ‘Armagh, the Enlightenment and American Independence’ to a capacity audience in the Library’s Long Room.”

Speakers included Professor Francis Costello, whose talk was entitled ‘Swirling between Continents: How the Enlightenment spawned the American Republic and Transformed Europe’; Dr James Dingley, Chairperson of the Francis Hutcheson Institute, who spoke on ‘Setting Francis Hutcheson at the Centre of Enlightenment thinking in Ireland, Britain and Europe’; and Mr John Gray, former Librarian of the Linen Hall Library, who spoke on ‘Reclaiming the Enlightenment: Why Francis Hutcheson still Matters’. Dean Dunstan also read out a message from Mr James M Lyons, former Special Adviser on Northern Ireland to the United States President and State Department, on the particular influence of the Enlightenment on US jurisprudence.

Armagh Robinson Library is a registered charity and an accredited museum. This event will be one of a number to help raise awareness and support for its 250th Anniversary Endowment Appeal.

Image credits: Ian Maginess