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It is, therefore, always worth checking with the local librarian/archivist.

Dublin City Library & Archive also has an extensive holding of publications that include many of Ireland's one-time national titles as well as regional titles. Most of the collection can be viewed on microfilm at the Pearse Street, Dublin premises.

On the plus side, browsing old newspapers can be very distracting and enjoyable as you come across all manner of stories, adverts, obituaries and comment.

Not only can these pass on a flavour of the times through which our ancestors lived, they can often be amusing and, of course, simply educational.

The main difference with Spark can be summed up in one word - quality.

The full list of its microfilm holding can be downloaded here as a pdf or search for specific titles in the Newsplan database (see link in box above).

This page is split into Offline collections and Online collections.

The British Library holds the single largest collection of Irish newspapers and other periodicals.

The majority, however, require a visit to a library or specialist institution.

What the two options have in common is that there is rarely an index, so you need to have a fairly precise date and, in most cases, geographical area, because searching these old papers page by page, whether on microfilm or hard copy,or in pages of newspaper snippet can be very time-consuming.

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