Friday, June 24, 2011

Guide to the main landed estate collections at James Hardiman Library Archives

Crofton Estates in County Roscommon (LE1)

Bound volume containing observations, memoranda and accounts connected with Lord Crofton’s estate in County Roscommon, by his agent John Carson. Memoranda cover the appointment of tenants, and the cutting of turf at Irmam. Accounts give details of receipts and expenditures. Rent comes from the townlands of Ballymurry, Ballinree, Corbally, Caleenbag, Carnamadda, Moneymore etc.

1833-1840, 155pp

Cleaver estates in County Roscommon (LE2)

Account book of John Carson, agent from the Reverend William Cleaver, relating to the administration of the estates which cover Camus & Altray, Kilcorky, Ikearan and Lissyallen, all in County Roscommon.

1834-1940, 135pp

Homan, Papers of Sir William (LE3)

This collection can hardly be said to provide a comprehensive record of the Grandison Estate, centered on Dromana, County Waterford. It provides an interesting glimpse into estate management at the beginning of the nineteenth century through the few examples of Homan's correspondence. The leases, while providing information on specific agreements and holdings, provide no discernible land-holding pattern.

1807—1809, 17 items

Eyre Family Deeds (LE4)

Deeds of lease and other material relating to the management of the property of the Eyre family in Galway in the eighteenth and nineteenth centuries. There are also legal papers relating to the property.

1750—1852, 144 items

Plan of property in Abbeygate Street, Galway, accompanying a lease of Robert Hedges Eyres to Richard Martyn, 29th September 1820. [James Hardiman Library Archives, Eyre Family Deeds, LE4/89.]

Persse Lease (LE5)

Lease between Richard and Robert Adams of Newcastle Lodge, in the County of the Town of Galway, and Burton Persse of Moyode Castle, County Galway, granting a field known as Shorefield.

17 Aug 1836, 1f + map

Wilson Lynch Papers (LE6)

Papers relating to the estate management of the lands of the Wilson-Lynch family at Belvoir, Sixmilebridge, and Kinvara in County Clare, and Renmore and other properties in and around Galway. This material includes rentals, labourers' wages and legal material relating to the leasing of lands. There is also a body of personal papers relating to the Wilson-Lynch family as well as the Redington family at Clarinbridge, County Galway.

1800—1920, 14 boxes

Blake Family of Ballyglunin (LE7)

During the 18th century the Blake family of Ballyglunin, County Galway, used their merchant wealth to buy and lease lands and by the early 19th century they had built up an extensive estate. Although part of the landed gentry they continued in business and lent money to a wide circle of the Galway merchant families. Edmund Blake of Ballyglunin married Mary ffrench of Rahasane in 1724.

1770—1830, 124 items

Kirwans of Castlehackett (LE8)

This branch of the Kirwan family were an important land-holding and merchant family in Galway from the later seventeenth to the nineteenth centuries, with many of the family prominent in local politics. The most senior branch was located at Cregg, but there were many cadet branches. The Castlehackett branch of the family was established in the mid-seventeenth century by Sir John Kirwan. He had made his fortune as a wool merchant and also from ventures in the West Indies.

1749—1917, 23 items

O’Connor Donelan Papers (LE10)

Papers relating to the O'Connor Donelan family of Sylane, Tuam, County Galway. The papers cover the legal dealings of the family, the management of their various lands, and personal papers relating to various family members. The bulk of the personal material relates to Thomas O'Connor Donelan (1812-1874) and his sons. His eldest son Dermot had an interest in genealogy and forestry, and his other three sons were doctors in Dublin, Leeds and Manila.

1698—1930, 4 boxes

Daly of Dunsandle Papers (LE13)

Mainly deeds relating to the families property, as well as family business.

1751—1945, 4 boxes

Hearne of Hearnebrook Papers (LE26)

The Hearne or O'Hearne family come to our notice in the early seventeenth century, when they are closely associated with the O'Madden and O'Downy families. From 1614 Edmund Hearne of Gortnifluchii, in the parish of Lickmolassy (Lickumelasha in Petty's map), Barony of Longford, began lending sums of money to his relatives and neighbours who, in turn, mortgaged portions of their lands to Edmund as security for these loans.

Mainly 17th Century, 110 items

Lucas Family Papers, County Offaly (LE37)

Although these papers came to be owned by a member of the Lucas family, they barely contain documents that concern them. Mostly, this collection is made up of documents of the Drew family (Limerick and Waterford), and the Ryan family, with whom the Drews intermarried in 1881. It is unclear when the Lucases came into possession of the Ryans' papers.

1601—1969, 1 box

Soft bound hand-written fair-copy manuscript of an account by a Mrs. Strickland of Roscommon, giving details of her efforts to induce the local population to grow flax between 1818 and 1820 to help alleviate the poverty of the area. [James Hardiman Library Archives, Stickland of County Roscommon, LE21, page 1.]

Friday, June 17, 2011

Letters from Literary Greats – and Evelyn Waugh's Mysterious Illness

A jest from Denis Johnston [1955]
The Thomas Kilroy Archives contain some fifteen letters which Kilroy received in his position as auditor of the UCD English Literature Society, in the mid-1950s. The Society hosted Irish writers of caliber such as Patrick Kavanagh, Denis Johnston, Benedict Kiely, Gabriel Fallon, Bryan McMahon, and possibly Walter Macken. More daringly, they also made advances on internationally-known writers T.S.Eliot, Graham Greene, Evelyn Waugh, and J.B Priestley. The English writers all declined eventually.

Some other writers were invited who were of prominence in the 1950s but are either largely forgotten now or are little read: there are letters from Seumas O'Sullivan (1879-1958), a poet and editor of The Dublin Magazine; Leonard Strong (1896-1958), a Plymouth-born Anglo-Irish writer; and from Joyce Cary (1888-1957), a Derry-born novelist.

Those were days when speakers did not have to be invited months in advance: Professor of English, Fr Peter Connolly (St.Patrick's Maynooth) accepted an invitation to speak two days before the event. Connolly, so it seems, was ahead of his time with his critical eye on Irish society and its Church (see more here).

Graham Greene's letter of polite refusal, 1956
Graham Greene easily wins out for his rhetoric of polite refusal, explaining that "I should always be charmed to have a drink with you in an Irish bar but I am afraid I always have to refuse invitations to speak. Speaking is too unpleasant for me and in one's middle years one seeks comfort" (2 February 1956).

By contrast, J.B. Priestley might receive a curmudgeon's award: "I do not feel contempt for your invitation, as you suggest I might, but it does seem to me rather unreasonable... To attend your meeting would take two days." He had been invited to speak at the Society's inaugural meeting on 6 March and was to reply to Thomas Kilroy's paper about American fiction: "I happen to know a good deal more about American fiction than you do because it has always been a special study of mine and I have both written and lectured in America on their fiction." (13 February, 1956) The archives also contain Kilroy's lecture for that event, entitled "The Angry Cloth" (6 March 1956).

Letter from "Harriet" Waugh, 1956

There is one puzzle among the letters - or is there? Evelyn Waugh had been written to and invited to another meeting, the previous year. A reply came from Harriet Waugh, talking of her father's illness and grimly stating that "no hopes of his recovery can be entertained" (30 September 1955). Harriet was only 11 at the time, and although Waugh had overcome a serious case of bromide poisoning in 1954, there was no grave illness on the horizon in '55 (according to Selma Hastings's biography): the letter is a gentle hoax. If there is anybody out there better able to compare the writing, please tell us whether this is in Evelyn Waugh's own hand.
Vera Orschel

Tuesday, June 14, 2011

Hardiman Library - Summer Hours

Good news for students and researchers planning to work at the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway this summer. The library will be offering extended opening hours until 4 September, consisting of the following:
  • Monday to Thursday   08.30 - 22.00
  • Friday                       08.30 - 17.30
  • Saturday                   10.00 - 17.00
The Library will be closed on Sundays during these summer months.

We look forward to seeing you!

Sarah Poutch

Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Cillian Murphy returns to the Galway Arts Festival

The mouth-watering line-up for this year’s Galway Arts Festival has just been announced. Among the numerous highlights is the production of Enda Walsh’s 1999 play Misterman which stars Cillian Murphy in the starring role of this one-man play. Misterman was premiered by Corcadora Theatre Company in 1999 at the Granary Theatre in Cork. This production saw Enda Walsh himself take the starring role and was directed by Pat Kiernan.

Cillian Murphy makes his return to collaboration with Enda Walsh for the first time since 1996 when he starred in Walsh’s Discopigs which was also made into a movie. The very successful stage version of Discopigs was a highlight of the 1997 Galway Arts Festival and starred Cillian Murphy and acclaimed actress Eileen Walsh in the leading roles. Murphy has seen his stock constantly rise since his early appearances at the Galway Arts Festival. Major Hollywood roles in the likes of Batman Begins and Inception as well as in the Palm d’Or winning film The Wins That Shakes the Barley directed by Ken Loach and depicting struggle and conflict in Ireland during the War of Independence and Civil War Ireland. Eileen Walsh has achieved huge notoriety and critical acclaim in her own right which strong turns in film such as the Magdalene Sisters and as Lady Macbeth on the Abbey Stage and in Medea in the 2010 Dublin Theatre Festival.

The archive of Galway Arts Festival holds a single photograph from the production of Discopigs at the 1997 Festival and shows Murphy alongside Walsh. It is a great photograph and a timely reminder of past collaboration between Cillian Murphy and Enda Walsh at the Galway Arts Festival.
The full archive of the Galway Arts Festival is currently being catalogued at the archives of the James Hardiman Library of NUI Galway. For any enquiries about material in the Galway Arts Festival archive please contact archivist Barry Houlihan: barry.houlihan[at]

Wednesday, June 1, 2011

Landed Estates Collections at the James Hardiman Library

In conjunction with the landed estates exhibition currently running in the James Hardiman Library, a guide to landed estates collections in the Archives Service is also available.

There are over forty collections relating to landed estates in the
holdings of the Archives Service of the James Hardiman Library.
These range in date from the seventeenth century to the midtwentieth
century, and touch on a range of economic, social and
political issues. The majority of the collections relate to the west
of Ireland. The purpose of this brochure is to give a general introduction
to the material, as well as give an overview of some of
the main collections.

The Use of Landed Estate Collections

Evidence of the legal basis of estates

Documents relating to deed of title

Wills, marriage settlements and associated legal documents

Legal Papers

Estate Management

Contains information on the administration of leases, including rentals, correspondence with agents, re-leases.

Documents relating to workmen on the estate, land improvements and accounts of stock.

Within collections, estate management material is divided out by estate, providing a unique insight into the area and the management of the land.

Letter from M Walsh, PP, of Kinvara, to John Wilson Lynch, on behalf of Patrick Kelly of Cloosh, stating that his stock has been seized “under very painful circumstances”. He complains that Mr Wilson-Lynch’s tenants are subjected to a lot of costs above their rents. He comments that if Patrick Kelly’s stock is sold, that they will all lose out in the long run, [James Hardiman Library Archives, Wilson-Lynch Collection, LE6/B/593.]

Personal Papers

Material relating to the personal activities of family members.

Can include political activities, business interests, hobbies, leisure activities, travelling.

Also provides information on the social interaction of different landed estate families at the time.
Accessing the Collections

Descriptive lists to the landed estate collections are available for consultation in the Special Collections Reading Room.

A collection-level guide to our holdings is available on the Library web-pages at

Landed Estates collections in the James Hardiman Library are also listed among the sources in the Irish Landed Estates database at

Our holdings are augmented by material held in Special Collections, such as the Ordinance Survey maps, House of Commons Parliamentary Papers, newspapers and microfilm copies of the Landed Estate Court Proceedings.

For any queries on our holdings, contact the archivist on 091.493636 or for further information.