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'Massive re-vamp' of digital collections at Limerick Archives

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More than thirty collections held by Limerick Archives have been made available online following a revamp which will see some historic records available to online researchers for the first time.

Jacqui Hayes, archivist at Limerick Archives, has been spearheading the project which is an ongoing digitalisation of archives, with 1,000 items due to become available on the Limerick Archives website by the end of September.

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Among the collections that will be online for the first time will be a rare collection based on the Limerick Police Force of 1922 which gives an insight into the number of men drafted into the new civil force to keep the peace in the interim period between the departure of the RIC and the establishment of the Garda Siochana.

Mayor at the time Stephen O’Mara recruited the Limerick City Police Force and the business owners of the city funded the wages of the 38 men selected to keep the streets safe for almost three months. This tiny collection has never been accessed by historians.

Highlights of the new online collections

There is also the chance to view Limerick County Council’s minute-books which span the period from 1899 to 1973. These minute books allow the reader to see how the county council ran the local authority. This provides historians and researchers a never-seen-before level of online access to these records, which details the issues that the council tackled since the turn of the 20th century.

Many of the collections are only recently digitised – these include Vaccination Records from 1864, which list the names of small children vaccinated under efforts to eliminate smallpox. Efforts at immunisation in Ireland in the first half of the 18th Century were generally unsuccessful until the 1864 Compulsory Vaccination Act. Parents were fined if they did not have their children vaccinated. This ensured success of the first mass vaccination scheme in Ireland.

Limerick Archives has also archived its own work and made it accessible online. Limerick Archives has run a wide-ranging programme of publications, projects and exhibitions. While these exhibitions have closed and some of the publications are out of print, digital versions are now available so that members of the public can explore Limerick’s history with beautifully illustrated publications, images and exhibitions.

A major expansion

Limerick Archivist Jacqui Hayes said: “These collections are part of a major expansion by Limerick Archives in digitisation and online access. As part of the new Limerick.ie site and enhanced access to services online, Limerick Archives has carried out a major digital preservation access to provide streamlined access to original archival material.”

“Many of the archives were previously available under earlier digitisation projects but access has now been streamlined. The public can now open archival documents easily without having to download a plug in. This removes barriers to access.”

Visit the new website at Limerick Archives.

(Image: Pictured at Lissalta House in the Limerick City and County Council Archive are William O'Neill, Limerick Archives and UL Scholar and Jacqui Hayes, Limerick City and County Council Archivist. Image courtesy of Limerick Archives and copyright Alan Pace.)

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