Experts begin work on ‘alternative’ national archive of Ireland

From UCD University Relations:

Experts begin work on ‘alternative’ national archive of Ireland

A vast collection of Irish historical materials dating from the 11th to the 20th century is currently being surveyed by experts in order to understand this ‘alternative’ national archive of Ireland.

The project led by the UCD Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute, and involving historians, archivists, librarians and conservators, has been made possible with funding from the Andrew W. Mellon Foundation.

“The Irish Franciscan archive consists of a considerable number of manuscripts and documents of primary importance to the history of Ireland and its relationship with other parts of the world,” says Dr John McCafferty, Director of the UCD Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute, and Head of the UCD School of History and Archives, University College Dublin.

“The archive provides an unbroken record, dating back to the medieval period, of many aspects of Ireland’s historical, cultural, intellectual, and religious past.”

“It is of singular historical importance because while many Irish historical manuscripts and documents from between the 16th and the early 20th centuries were destroyed during war and unrest these materials remained in the safekeeping of the Franciscan Order,” explains Dr McCafferty.

The detailed audit of the UCD-OFM (Order of Friars Minor) collection of medieval and early modern manuscripts and of early printed books in Ireland will take a year to complete.
Following the audit, the researchers plan to develop a full catalogue of the collection, and prepare the way for the digitisation of the materials to enable online access for future educational and research projects.

Detail from UCD-OFM Ms A13, Annals of the Four Masters, entry for 432 AD recording St. Patrick’s mission to Ireland
Detail from UCD-OFM Ms A13, Annals of the Four Masters, entry for 432 AD recording St. Patrick’s mission to Ireland

“With this grant award from the Mellon Foundation, we can take real steps towards making these Irish historical treasures more accessible and better known throughout the world,” says Dr McCafferty.

“Viewed by some as an ‘alternative’ national archive of Ireland, this treasure offers a unique insight into Irish and continental society which differs from the official records of the administration in Dublin and London.”

The UCD-OFM collection contains some of the most iconic and the lesser known documents relating to Irish history including:

  • A volume of the Annals of the Four Masters. Originally entitled the Annals of the Kingdom of Ireland, these five manuscripts, compiled by the Irish Franciscans during the 17th-century, chronicle Irish history from prehistory to 1616 AD
  • The archive of Luke Wadding OFM. Luke Wadding OFM (1588-1657) is often considered to be the only Irishman to have received votes in a papal conclave.  His foundation, St. Isidore’s Rome, was a hive of diplomatic and scholarly activity. 
  • The ‘B’ manuscripts – a large collection of Irish, Continental and non-European manuscripts assembled by Irish Franciscans over four centuries.

Project Steering Committee:

Dr John McCafferty, Director, UCD Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute; Dr Edel Bhreathnach, Deputy Director,  UCD Mícheál Ó Cléirigh Institute; Dr John B. Howard, University Librarian, UCD; Seamus Helferty, Principal Archivist, UCD Archives; and Fr Joseph MacMahon OFM, Secretary to the Irish Franciscan Province

External advisers will come from the Antwerp University, Columbia University NY, Connecticut University, Glasgow University, Leuven (KUL), Mary Immaculate Limerick, Princeton, NUI Maynooth, UCC, Universidad Pablo de Olivade, Seville and Queen’s University Belfast.


Posted on February 1, 2012, in Uncategorized. Bookmark the permalink. 2 Comments.

  1. Mrs. Rene O'Riordan

    Wow – this should be good – the youth of Ireland need to be reminded of their fore fathers and their Christian roots. – Blessings – Rene

  2. This is very good news indeed.

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