Dr Bernadette Cunningham is a graduate of University College Galway and University College Dublin, with degrees in History and Political Science and a PhD in Irish. She holds a postgraduate qualification in librarianship from Aberystwyth University (Wales). She has been Deputy Librarian at the Royal Irish Academy since 1998, having previously worked in the libraries of Trinity College Dublin and Mater Dei Institute of Education (now incorporated into Dublin City University). She now works part-time.
She came to work in the Academy library because of its major collections of Irish manuscripts. She has published widely on early modern Irish cultural and intellectual history. Books include The world of Geoffrey Keating (Dublin, 2000); The Annals of the Four Masters: Irish history, kingship and society in the early seventeenth century (Dublin, 2010); Clanricard and Thomond: 1540-1640: provincial politics and society transformed (Dublin, 2012), and (with Raymond Gillespie), Stories from Gaelic Ireland: microhistories from the sixteenth-century Irish annals (2003).
She compiled two volumes of the new Calendar of State Papers Ireland, Tudor period series for the Irish Manuscripts Commission.
Edited books include (with Máire Kennedy) The experience of reading: Irish historical perspectives (Dublin, 1999); (with Harman Murtagh) Lough Ree: historic Lakeland settlement (Dublin, 2015); and (with Kristina Rexová, Václava Hor?áková and Vera Hanelová), Historical bibliography as an essential source for historiography (Proceedings of the Fifth International Conference of the European Historical Bibliographies Network, held in Prague, 2013) (Newcastle-upon-Tyne, 2015). She is a former editor of Irish Economic and Social History, a peer-reviewed academic journal.
She is current editor of Irish History Online, the national online bibliography of writings on Irish history (www.iho.ie). She has served as president of the Group for the Study of Irish Historic Settlement, 2010-2013, and chairperson of the Rare Books Group (Library Association of Ireland), 2013-2015.