Records rescued from the Public Records Office fire of 1922 will be preserved

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Valuable documents relating to Dublin Port, which were saved from the Public Record Office fire in the city’s Four Courts during the opening engagement of the Civil War, need to be restored.

The day after the fire of June 30, 1922, more than 25,000 sheets of paper and parchment were extracted from the rubble. These documents, which date from the 14th to the 19th century and are known as the “1922 rescue documents”, are now kept in the National Archives.

During a recent investigation of unopened parcels from the archives, archivists identified a number of documents important to the history of Dublin Port.

The documents, which date from 1817-1818, include thousands of sheets of paper, all of which are somewhat damaged by the heat of the flames. Some were further damaged by humidity and rain due to their exposure to the weather from the fire.

The documents will be made available to researchers and the public once their restoration is complete. They will also be digitized.

The articles create a snapshot of Dublin Port activity in the 1800s. Hundreds of people from across the country, from the ports of Killybegs, Strangford and Youghal, came to Dublin to collect salaries, pensions and do business trade in goods.

The documents also contain details of wages and salaries, as well as the names of customs inspectors and collectors. They provide accounts on wine, bounties on beef and pork, allowances on silk, and tax refunds on fish, ashes, salt, and linen.

There are over 50 records relating to bounty payments for fish in the summer of 1817, including information about the vessel, crew members, and size and type of catch.

All documents contain important details of trade and commerce in Dublin Port that do not exist anywhere else.

centenarian decade

Most of the collection of documents rescued from 1922 remained closed until the last five years. However, as part of the Centennial Decade program, some of these documents will be restored.

The Dublin Port Company is supporting the National Archives of Ireland conservation team to restore the Dublin Port Archives.

Conservation work is undertaken by Beyond 2022 Project Curator Jessica Baldwin, under the direction of Zoe Reid, Custodian of Utilities and Collection.

“The care that Public Record Office staff showed over 100 years ago in their mission to safeguard as many records as possible is now continued by a highly trained and committed team of archivists and conservators working together to uncover and reveal a snapshot of what life was like in Dublin Port in 1922,” said Culture Minister Catherine Martin.

Dublin Port Chief Executive Eamonn O’Reilly said he was delighted to add to his archive by supporting the preservation of the records.

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