Northern Ireland Lives

The Oxford Dictionary of National Biography is the national record of people who’ve shaped British history, worldwide, from the Romans to the 21st century. The Oxford DNB currently includes the life stories of over 60,000 men and women who died in or before 2014.


George Best

Of these 60,000 people, more than 2000 have close ties to Northern Ireland—through families, education, work or residence.


Here you’ll find some famous (and some less familiar) individuals, including the footballer George Best (above), the car maker John DeLorean, and Arnold Thornely, architect of the Parliament Buildings at Stormont (below).
Then discover ‘who’s who’ in Northern Ireland by searching the Oxford DNB for people by place.

Sam Bell Marjorie Mowlam William Drummond John DeLorean


Sir Arnold Thornely Sir Charles Brett  William Nicolson

Alexander Higgins D'Arcy Wentworth Cahir Healy 

Cahal Brendan Daly Louis MacNiece Mary McCracken (Arthur) Joyce Cary


1. Who's who in Northern Irish history?

As well as looking for people by name, you can also search by place, for example:

(NB: You'll need to be logged into your library's subscription for these searches.)

2. Local and family history in the Oxford DNB

Finding people in the Oxford DNB is easy.

  • to discover more Nothern Irish lives simply use the ‘place’ option on the People Search page. You can find people who were born, baptized, educated or resident in Northern Ireland (or elsewhere), or who died and were buried here. Search by county, city, town, village, church, and even street.
  • you can also search the ODNB’s 70 million words for places (e.g. Antrim). For this use Text Search.

3. Who else would you like to meet?

  • the Oxford DNB online is freely available via public libraries across the UK. Libraries offer ‘remote access’ allowing members to log-on to the complete dictionary, for free, from home (or any other computer) twenty-four hours a day.
  • as well as 60,000 life stories, the ODNB offers a free, twice monthly biography podcast, with over 250 life stories now available.
  • you can also sign up for a Life of the Day: a topical biography delivered to your inbox.
  • or follow us on Twitter @ODNB for people in the news.

> Read the Oxford DNB, free and at home, using your library's subscription

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