While this year sees the centenary of the destruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland in 1922, the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) approaches the centenary of its establishment next year, in 2023. An exciting partnership involving the Beyond 2022 project, ADAPT and the state archives in Dublin, Belfast and London, is working to recreate, virtually, the records and buildings lost in a century ago. On 27 June 2022 the project will launch the Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland, a free online research platform for all interested in Irish history.
Archives and Memory, North and South, which took place on 4th May 2022, builds up to this event and explores PRONI’s early history and the potential to reconstruct lost archives through deepening collaboration.
Speakers at this event included:
During this event, the speakers discuss the creation and development of PRONI, and the scale and significance of its pre-1900 Chief Secretaries’ collections. PRONI was founded in the aftermath of the Four Courts fire in 1922 and has worked over the years to build collections that compensate for the losses of that disaster. These materials tell the story of present-day Northern Ireland, the province of Ulster and of Ireland generally since the 16th century. Working in partnership with Beyond 2022, PRONI is now leading in an attempt to reconstruct one of the largest collections destroyed in 1922: the records of the Chief Secretaries of Ireland from the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries.
Stephen Scarth, Acting Keeper of Records in PRONI, started the proceedings with an engaging presentation on the creation and formative years of PRONI. Tim Murtagh, Beyond 2022 Archival Discovery Research Fellow at PRONI, continued the presentations with a discussion on the Chief Secretaries office as an example of some of the significant selections at PRONI. Finally, Nigel Johnston, Archivist at the National Archives, Ireland, presented the Chief Secretary’s Office Register papers to give an interesting insight as to what is available in the North and South depostries.
A recorded version of this event can be found here.
Archives and Memory, North and South is a Beyond 2022 partnership event presented by the Department for Communities, Public Record Office Northern Ireland (PRONI) with the National Archives (Ireland). Hosted by the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute. This initiative is part of the Decade of Centenaries Programme 2013 – 2023.
Beyond 2022 is an all-island and international collaborative research project, funded by the Government of Ireland, working to create a virtual reconstruction of the Public Record Office of Ireland, which was destroyed in the opening engagement of the Civil War in 1922.
The project involves Computer Science research, along with research in History and Archival Studies, to provide greater access to Ireland’s deep history. On 27 June 2022 the project will launch the Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland, a free online research platform for all interested in Irish history, along with an immersive 3-D recreation of the destroyed premises.
Photo: Stamp of Chief Secretary (1881), courtesy of PRONI