The Ringling North Collection was acquired by the James Hardiman Library in 2013 and reflects the interests and journeys of its creator Henry Ringling North (1909-1993). Born in Chicago in 1909 and educated at Yale University, North was part of the Ringling Bros. and Barnum & Bailey Circus family dynasty. He purchased Northbrook, a large farm at Kilconnell, Co. Galway in the 1960s, and died in Switzerland in 1993. The collection contains c. 1200 items on subjects such as travel literature and the history of art, and spans 1635-1992.
Titles include The scenery and antiquities of Ireland by Joseph Stirling Coyne (1803-1868) (London : George Virtue, between 1832 and 1851), which presents this charming image of Westport, Co. Mayo, one of many engravings in this two volume set by William Henry Bartlett (1809-1854):
From a weighty tome in the collection to one of its smallest, Lafcadio Hearn’s playful The boy who drew cats (Tokyo : T. Hasegawa, n.d.) is printed on fukurotoji crepe paper and contains vivid illustrations:
North’s purchase notes on the endleaves of items in the collection also chart his travels with the circus: