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The period 1815-45 was seminal in the evolution of the Society into a philanthropic institution wholly independent of government. This book examines the history of the Royal Dublin Society at a time when that body was coming to terms with changes in its relationship with the state. An 18th-century foundation, the Society had both an educational and an economic development role in Ireland and founded a national museum, botanic gardens, library, and art school. Because many of its activities were developed under parliamentary patronage it was heavily dependent on government subsidies. At the same time, it insisted on asserting its independence against the encroachments of the state.
Kevin Bright joined the RDS commercial staff in 1970, and served as its Registrar 1987-99. Semi-retired since 1993, he studied history at NUIM, obtaining a PhD in 2003.