Grainger was educated at Belfast Academy and Trinity College, Dublin. After gaining a Doctorate of Divinity he became Rector of Broughshane, County Antrim. He was an indiscriminating collector, who filled his house with a mass of often unlabelled specimens including stuffed birds, shells, insects, coins, minerals, a dolmen, weapons from New Zealand, and archaeological finds.According to Robert Lloyd Praeger his collection of Irish stone tools was ‘’especially valuable as a study in the gentle art of forgery’’.
- 1853.Catalogue of the Shells found in the Alluvial Deposits of a Belfast site of the Irish Mesolithic. Proc. Roy. Irish Acad. 56 C, 1-195.
- --- Results of excavations in High St., Belfast. Ulster Journ. Arch. ix. 113-121.
- 1874 On the Fossils of the Post-tertiary Deposits of Ireland. Rep. Bmt. Assoc, for 1874 ; Sections, pp. 73–76.
- Praeger, R.Ll. 1949. Some Irish Naturalists, a Biographical Note-book.Dundalgan Press, Dundalk, 1949
- Belfast Nat. Hist. and Phil. Soc. Centenary Volume, 77, portrait. 1924.
- James, K.W. 1991. Canon Grainger: country rector, magpie collector and Father of the Ulster Museum. Ulster Museum Publication No. 269.