News and Views

Richard Harris Archives donated to University College Cork

24 Oct 2022
Dr Barry Monahan, Lecturer in the Department of Film and Screen Media at UCC, Jared Harris, Kerry Bryson, UCC Director of Business Development & Advancement and Crónán Ó Doibhlin, Head of Collections at UCC Library, in Richard Harris's apartment in the Savoy for the announcement.

University College Cork (UCC) and the Richard Harris Estate are delighted to announce that the archives of Richard Harris have been donated to UCC.  

Richard Harris was one of the most iconic film actors of the late twentieth century. Nominated for two Academy Awards for This Sporting Life (1963) and The Field (1990), his other leading roles included the parts of King Arthur in Camelot (1967) and Marcus Aurelius in Gladiator (2000). 

The Richard Harris Archives span over 50 years and are an extensive collection of manuscripts, letters, photographs, literary works, artefacts and professional and personal documents which belonged to the late actor. The Richard Harris Archives gives a unique insight into one of Ireland’s legendary actors who starred in some of the most celebrated pieces of cinema of the last half century, who won or was nominated for the most prestigious awards in film and theatre.   

Among the archives are Richard’s personal creative writing manuscripts including poetry, publicity and location photos from his screen and stage performances including Camelot, The Field, Pirandello’s Henry IV and as Professor Albus Dumbledore in the first two Harry Potter films. In addition, the archive includes private memos, items from film sets, Young Munster rugby plaques and pictures as well as letters and wire communications from family and friends, arts critics, and co-performers. 

First public exhibition in Limerick  

The first public exhibition of the archives will take place in Richard Harris’s birth city of Limerick at the Hunt Museum and due to the generous bequest of the Harris family, and the assistance of the late actor’s son Jared, the placement of this remarkable collection will be a long-lasting legacy of the internationally acclaimed actor’s strong roots in Ireland and Munster.  

“Our family is excited about bringing this collection to the public in Limerick and also basing it around the particular academic expertise of Dr Barry Monahan” stated Jared Harris “Barry is a leading expert on our father’s career and University College Cork is home to a really exciting film school. We hope the public will enjoy the Limerick exhibition and students of  film, music and theatre will find in the collection a fascinating trove of information.” 

Leading expert on the career of Richard Harris  

Research by Dr Barry Monahan, Lecturer in UCC's Department of Film & Screen Media in the School of Film, Music & Theatre, focuses on the relationship between Irish film and theatre, and the work of Richard Harris, particularly his contribution with his contemporaries to defining a national style of performance on stage and screen. 

“The Richard Harris Collection bridges important moments in the biography of the world-celebrated Irish actor, offering fascinating insights to aspects of his career and personality that might have been lost in the gap between his public and private stories” stated Dr Barry Monahan.  

Jill Cousins, Director of The Hunt Museum in Limerick stated “It will be an honour to curate this wonderful archive into an exhibition about one of Limerick’s favourite sons. We are looking forward to the collaboration with University College Cork and the Harris Family and to the joyful experience people will get from a greater insight into the man who was both an athlete and an actor.” 

Archives give personal glimpse into life of actor   

A preview of the collection was presented by Jared Harris and University College Cork at an event attended by members of the Harris family in London. Prominent items from the archives were unveiled in the Savoy Hotel’s Richard Harris Suite, where the late actor resided for many years.  

Harris’s personal documents reveal a man whose skills as a gifted athlete and talented rugby player not only served him in practical ways for his performance in This Sporting Life, but for the duration of his career on stage and screen, and as a writer, director and producer of universal acclaim.  

New stage of cultural collections at UCC  

University College Cork’s acquisition of these archives marks a new stage in the development of contemporary cultural collections at the university.  

Crónán Ó Doibhlin, Head of Collections at UCC Library said, The Richard Harris Archive will be of great benefit to the arts and culture industry to Richard Harris’s home province of Munster, where his legacy as a loved and internationally respected actor continues to be celebrated and cherished.” 

UCC has plans to develop a UCC Treasures Gallery which will be a fully secure and serviced space which will provide for public display and interpretation of a variety of artefacts. 

Further details of University College Cork Library’s Richard Harris Archive exhibition at the Hunt Museum, Limerick will be released at a later date.

University College Cork

Coláiste na hOllscoile Corcaigh

College Road, Cork T12 K8AF