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 2016.
Of these 60,000 people, more than 2,000 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, Arnold Thornely, architect of the Parliament Buildings at Stormont, poet Seamus Heaney, and controversial religious and political figure and later First Minister Ian Paisley (below).
1. Who's who in Northern Irish history?
As well as looking for people by name, you can also search by place, for example:
- which notable people were born in Belfast?
- which historical figures have links to Lisburn?
- who has ties to co. Fermanagh?
- which Belfast doctor engineer invented the heart defibrillator?
- how many times is Lough Neagh mentioned in the Oxford DNB?
- who were Harland and Wolff?
- how many references in the Oxford DNB to the Giant's Causeway?
(NB: You'll need to be logged into your library's subscription for these searches.)
2. Local and family history in the Oxford DNB
The Oxford DNB includes the life stories of more than 60,000 men and women. Online you can search for where they were born, baptized, lived, died or were buried, by date range or location.
- The advanced search ‘life event’ feature can be used to find people near you—be they men and women baptised in Edinburgh (189), those born in Whitby (28), or those buried in Exeter (133). Used in this way the ODNB is an excellent resource for school projects or family history.
- Text searching across the Oxford DNB’s 68 million words, you can also make links between people and places: for example, we’ve 102 references to “Clapham Common”, 27 to the “River Trent”, and 51 to “Snowdonia”.
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