Historical records released to mark 102nd anniversary of Public Record Office destruction


Video Screenshot, tags: 102nd anniversary public record office - Youtube

On June 30, 2024, we commemorate the 102nd anniversary of the devastating destruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland in 1922. To mark this occasion, the Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland (VRTI) has released 25,000 previously unavailable historical records, now accessible to the public.

This release is a significant step in recovering and preserving the nation’s lost history. It also highlights the ongoing commitment to making Ireland’s rich archival heritage available to everyone.

Expansion of the Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland

The VRTI, launched in 2022, offers extensive archives of public records, featuring five varied paraphrases of each text. This initiative has gathered digital images of substitute documents through collaborations with archives in Ireland and abroad. The latest version of the VRTI website includes advanced browsing capabilities and an expanded database of 100 million transcribed words.

The VRTI now hosts four extensive “Gold Seams” and ten curated collections for researchers. One highlight is the new “1798 Rebellion” collection, which provides insights into the origins of Irish Republicanism and the defining characteristics of the 1798 Rebellion. Declan O’Sullivan, professor in Computer Science, SFI ADAPT and Trinity College Dublin expressed enthusiasm about this new addition, emphasizing its significance for understanding this pivotal moment in Irish history.

Ongoing efforts and discoveries

Preliminary work is also underway to uncover transcripts from the pre-Famine census, which were destroyed in 1922. The VRTI has already identified over 200,000 distinct names from Irish archives, and for the first time, some of these records are available online. These documents offer a glimpse into the lives of those affected by the Famine.

A crucial 15th-century record housed in Armagh is now accessible through the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland’s digitisation efforts. This record sheds light on the historical interaction between Gaelic Ulster and the English monarchy during the Medieval era. Additionally, the National Archives UK has digitised and translated medieval exchequer records up to 1327.

Future releases and government support

A single volume from the extensive State Papers Ireland collection is now freely available on the VRTI, providing insights into life in Ireland during the 1600s. In 2025, the National Archives UK will disclose additional paraphrased texts and a new collection of around 26,000 images.

Minister Catherine Martin, responsible for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, expressed great pleasure regarding the advancements of the VRTI project. The Virtual Record Technology Initiative (VRTI) was unveiled on June 30, 2022, to commemorate the 100-year anniversary of the disastrous fire that consumed the Public Record Office.

Trinity College Dublin spearheads this five-year initiative under Project Ireland 2040. The initiative aims to conduct historical studies, protect archives, and use technology for the digital recovery of lost records.

International collaborations and online access

The extensive and ever-growing collection of replacement documents shared by international partners is now freely accessible online. Among the newly available records is a proclamation issued in 1673 ordering the departure of Roman Catholic clergy from Ireland. The National Archives of the United Kingdom provides five alternative renderings of these texts, preserving the facts and meanings intact.

The VRTI also features a letter written in Irish, discovered among the Rebellion Documents, which offers a window into the prophecies and fears circulating during those days. Another intriguing addition is a register from the mid-1400s, showcasing one of the earliest adoptions of paper records instead of parchment in Ireland.

These newly released records and digital advancements represent a significant milestone in preserving Ireland’s historical heritage, providing invaluable resources for researchers and the public alike. The VRTI can be accessed online, offering a comprehensive and user-friendly platform for exploring these historical treasures.

Leave a Comment