Thousands of documents damaged in 1922 Four Courts fire to be conserved

Thousands of documents damaged in 1922 Four Courts fire to be conserved

FOUR COURTS documents that were badly damaged during a fire in 1922 are to be conserved and restored by a programme between various bodies in Ireland, it has been announced.

On 30 June 1922, the Public Record Office of Ireland at the Four Courts was destroyed in the opening engagement of the Civil War.

In the aftermath of the fire of, over 25,000 sheets of paper and parchment were retrieved from the rubble. These records, which date from the fourteenth to the nineteenth centuries, are known as the ‘1922 Salved Records,' and are now held at the National Archives.

Most of the collection has remained unopened until the last five years, with a new all-island and international programme hosted by Trinity College Dublin and funded by the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media now set to work to reconstruct what was lost in 1922.

The Dublin Port Company has also offered to support the state's beyond 2022 restoration efforts by funding the conservation of 200-year-old records concerning Dublin Port.

During a recent investigation of unopened parcels of salved records through the Beyond 2022 project, archivists identified five parcels of significance to the history of Dublin Port.

The documents are said to "create an incredible snapshot of the bustling life of the busy port with hundreds of people from around the country, from ports in Killybegs, Strangford and Youghal coming to collect salaries pensions and trade in goods."

They contain details on salaries and compensations, and many names of inspectors and collectors of customs taxes. They provide accounts about wine, bounties on beef and pork, allowances on silk, detail repayments of taxes on fish, ash, salt, and linen.

Dr Peter Crooks, Trinity College Dublin and Academic Director of the Beyond 2022 project, said:

"As each page of these fascinating archives is restored, another page of Irish history is returned to the public record. These documents provide a fascinating insight into everyday life 200 years ago - not only in Dublin, with its extensive trading network, but also across Ireland at large."

The conservation work is being undertaken by the Beyond 2022 Project Conservator, Jessica Baldwin, under the guidance of Zoë Reid, Keeper, Public Services and Collection.

The documents all show some evidence of damage from the heat of the flames, as well as damp and rain from exposure to the weather following the fire. Despite the damage, conservation will mean that documents not seen for 100 years can soon be consulted again by historians and the public.

Following the conservation, the documents dating from 1817-1818 will be available for research and suitable digitisation.