Local History at UL

Local History Journal

Autumn/Winter 2009

Entry Date Journal
1 Sep 9 2009 Yesterday was the first class in Local History at UL.  After  enrollment and meeting our professor, David Fleming, we (6 or 7 of us, two ladies, one contemporary and two more experienced gents !) discussed the mechanics of UL  and the course, and then settled on discussing People in relation to Local History.It’s apparent that selecting a profile for a population under study can and should consider many factors, that its difficult and contentious at
times, and can easily be polluted with other features, such as  Locality, when its the people and their dynamic that would seem to be of priority and of central concern. Perhaps thats being too purist…In any case, its up  to the historian to be fair, objective and inclusive.I can see that getting the most from this course is going to involve quite a bit of work on my part, and I hope I can fit it in without detriment to my family. That said, it will be interesting, and certainly more interesting than the topics I address each day at work.Should I start a blog with this ?Besides this challenge, and getting used to the idea of structured learning again, I need to consider a subject for Project work. Im tempted by FF’s train crash story at the moment, but also want to make sure theres something interesting, perhaps novel about what I do. “Local History” has many degrees of freedom, local and history only being two. Maximum Entropy !
2 Sep 13 2009 Well, started the blog obviously, and had a bright idea for project : Stella Cinema 1957-67. Need to get into the library now so I dont have another week without reading material.
3 Sep 16 2009 2nd session yesterday. Quick Library tour, books journals. Had fun with photocopier. Open ’til 11pm. Questions about essay and boundaries. Need to locate evidence to support argument, prob from journals etc, and focus on local and “confined”. Critique of piece about Fingal. Boundaries, boundaries, boundaries. And then there are the Nuns in Drogheda to consider…..

  • http://www.crossborder.ie/pubs/localhistory.pdf – Ireland, management – “Research in local history is greatly enriched by being
    conducted in an all-Ireland context….This research project provides the basis for the first all-Ireland register of local
    history societies,”
  • http://www.bcpl8s.ca/thesis/chap1.htm – Canada, support non-restrictive arg ? – “Yet, with all these seemingly natural advantages, the ranchers’ footprint extended far beyond the surveyed boundaries of the ranch. Survival depended upon maximum use of the land base, due to the delicate nature of the bunchgrass, the needs of the cattle, and the aridity of the climate. Estates were to be left unfenced, and cattle were allowed to roam far and wide in search of sustenance.”
  • Should be ? – why agree/disagree, advantages, disadvantages
  • Shouldn’t be ? – why agree/disagree, advantages, disadvantages
  • Crossing, uniting, sharing?
  • Physical
  • Artificial
  • Perceived
  • Cultural
  • transport and comunications, isolation levels
  • population density (metric)
  • language, religious beliefs (identity)
  • shared culture:music, sport, arts (identity)
  • occupational and economic cross section((identity)
  • time – blow in or furniture
  • geographic – natural resource : mountain, river (communications and transport)
4 19 Sep 2009 Drove thru B’Kane today and not seeing any evidence of a cinema but reminded of what must have been wealth by the Georgian houses on the Nenagh Rd, Also drove thru Ballinderry 8km west of B’Kane – workhouse (?) and some older houses – Georgian too ? Wonder what sources I have for this topic, doesnt seem to be much written about it from a quick look on the web. Just that film with Martin Sheen……
Completed first read of MMM tonight.Need to step back and consider what Ive just read :

  • the authors
  • the subject(s)
  • the time
  • the place(s)
  • the intent in writing it
  • the intent of the subjects being written about and how well the authors serve them,
  • the perspective of the authors and
  • the prospective audience.

Aide memoire :

Authors: too close to topic ? Not far enough removed ? Even so, little interpretation of anything offered.

How many topics ? The Order, the Mother, the Hospital, their missionary work ? The date span : 39-99 ? Expansive – whats missing ?

What is the motivation ? In authors and actors ?

How many dates ? Presentation and understanding hard for reader. Content seems to jump forward and backward thru time

Factoids  – Where the supporting evidence – it enriches at least, even if he authors authenticity might not be questioned ?  What quoted documentation there is a spiel from the archB, a rambling reportage (undated), an appeal notice from the Mother. Only one other quote provides an external sense of the work or signifiance (p28)

What about the context – the people and patients served.  If about the hospital or the order, then who were the people. Mentioned in short, but not chief consideration ? What about the actual work done ? What about its significance in the time ? There is a sense that there is a much larger story that could be told.

5 20 Sep 2009 Realised this AM, to my horror, that Ive just read completely the wrong text. Arsenal.Emergency drive to library (I send the alarms off on entering as well as leaving the building it seems) locates the actual text required. My foul humour doesn’t do me any good. Stoopid mistake. Should have it read by Tuesday’s class, so I can move onto the others and start writing the review. Then the essay.  Need to manage time better.South Pacific :BBC HD. Why do Rapa Nui on Easter Island remind me of preFamine Drogheda ? Or why is the Natural History of an Island so similar, it would seem to the human history of an Island ?Regarding McHugh’s Drogheda prefamine :Technically : many citations (calc ratio), most at start of chapter, tailing off in analyis and review. Too many ? But story is told. Have analysis, opinion and rhetoric noted and placed on photo copy. Introduction helpful. Format constraints noted – the topic could be taken in its larger context, but even without that, it shouldnt confine analysis, interpretations or conclusions. Im probably being too technical or too critical – I’m only at this a couple of weeks !wrt Information presentation – a timeline with annotations would help with understanding context. Section headings would be useful to aide narrative understanding. Break out boxes for quotations. Perhaps that would be too much a la Popular Science ?Why is the central question “Why didn’t the locals rebel ?”, answered solely by the suggestion that the priviliged brain washed the locals with their moral and economic authority ? Perhaps with 1/4 of the text to go I haven’t come to the denoument, but why not education, experience, the lack of sense of community in a rapidly changing and new urban environment (a distopic prospect for all newcomers) ? Why bother rebelling, why expend the effort when you have to try and find food or cope with selling the equipment you need to earn a living just to continue living ? Where do you get the time or the inclination ? Was there a contemporary awareness in the subjects that there was some oppression, exploitation, or some difference ? How would they have known, what would they have seen ? Is it documented elsewhere, in comparison ? If so, why not cited ? Were the environs any different ?People migrated to the urban and gave up their rural lives presumably, so what were they running from, where were they looking forward to ? How microcosmic was this ? Dublin had a similar experience by all accounts, but was it limited to Drogheda and Dublin – Belfast had Lace evidently more lucrative and less competitive, so was the manufacturing base in Drogheda and Dublin based just on cheap and available labour ? Why not do the manufacturing somewhere else ? What was the advantage ?
6 21 Sep 2009 Have Faith. McHugh comes up with the goods ! Daily needs, education, experience, communication, the church all find voice in the remaining pages. However with little available documentary evidence there isnt much to go on, and quite a bit of opinion results – which is reasonable I think. Despite the significance of the privilged majority again being mentioned as paramount in the final paragraph, overall its a very good and comprehensive report. (Biblio complete, and some opinion noted within).What a contrast to the MMM story above.
7 23 Sep 2009 Talked of boundaries again yesterday, and of time. Looked at Annals. The Essay. Have a very rough draft as wanted to unload my head. Still have questions and dont have a firm view on the “should LH be confined to artificial boundaries” question. Is it just physical boundaries or others too ? Is it valid to create your own boundary ? Ive a long long way to go (reading wise) if Im going to make a good job of this.
8 29 Sep 2009 Still not sure about the stab Im going to take at the essay. Perhaps I am leaning towards confinement. Also need to find some negative or poor boundary usage – Mallow Field Club, MMM of Drogheda. North Leitrim in Famine Times ? Need to start the review tonight…
9 3 Oct 2009 Went to NAI open day. No money, slow progress, too much paper ! God help them when they get to archiving digital information. 50 people there but apparently only 1/3 of what needed. Saw intro to Chief Secretaries Office Registered Papers (CSORP). Presentations poor I thought, technique wise but information within very interesting. Covers 1801 to 1922 I believe, but current focus is 1818-1852. Not sure why. Local history sources being demod on a new DVD, published by NAI, e20 ! Shows a sample of some of the information available as scan and transcribed text. Wheres the rest of it ? Has it been scanned and transcribed too or not. New version of 1911 census before Xmas with new fields to search against – eg occupation. Doesnt include facets from other than household return pages. No IT expertise there it seems, had to borrow some dude from Dept of Finance to create the database. No money, and no interest from Minister Cullen either it seems. And whats the difference between NAI and the National Library ? Its very easy for me to be cynical tho, I dont know the half of it Im sure, and their world appears somewhat isolated atm. Shame.
10 6 Oct 2009 Discussions of author motivation, comparisons and references, the meaning of footnotes, the importance of the question and title of the research. Brief talk about format of next weeks presentation. Need to see if I can work in Portlaw and find that Dublin study to compare with Drogheda. And who is Ned McHugh – the local teacher or someone else ?
11 11 Oct 2009 Roamed about Lord Croftons estate in Roscommon. Visited Mausoleum and Lions Gate, the last of the Coade stone adornded gates from the Estate. Land Commission and County Council seem to have engineered a destruction of most of the buildings in the 60s. Remains of house in dreadful state by the river. Found the haha. Must have been much money spent on the place. Crofton family had visited a few weeks before.
12 20 Oct 2009 Completed coursework, tg. Didnt enjoy the essay, and have been wondering about the whole literary presentation side that is the History Essay. My naive view of historical review may be at the root of this, but it seems that making a narrative could be more accessible and efficient in information transfer than several thousand lines of prose, high in fog factor. Must investigate the arguments.
13 23 Oct 2009 HI2111 Started 19th.Found some of Elphin cenus online

  1. Leitrim-Roscommon Elphin Census Display
  2. originsnetwork

Papist proportions. Intermarriage. Populations. Occupations. Townlands, now, before, after. Names. Spellings. Search. Soundex/namex. Families. Relationships. Communities. Maps. Motivations. Recorders. Time elapsed. Volume. Impact. Use and Misuse.

14 27 Oct 2009 Looking more at Crofton Estate. Seems Land Commission and co were not doing anything “unusual” when it was demolished but theres some evidence from Oireachtas report from Jan 1952 that it may have been a bit of a turnaround. Minister for Land seems to have a black and white view of what land commission were abou – an expense for the nation. So may be more worth in approaching as a study of the Land Commission activities in the 50s and the crossover with local council and landowning influences. Croftons Memoir doesnt go much past death of Lady Crofton in 1875 (?). Another angle may be the gardeners of Mote Park and the other nearby estates and the origins of the RDS, apparently hijacked by the gentry when the gardeners had too much success.
15 2 Nov 2009 Land Commission records seem to be gold dust according to Dooley. But ILC Reports available, and perhaps can ask NAI contacts if can access. Local Librarian may be able to help with Estate papers, may also be able to contact family. Records for Longford House as well as Mote Park might be useful. Local government records should be available at library. Dail and Oireactas reports dont have much specifically about Mote Park. Will try T Dooley directly or perhaps via BF. What else ? Sammon memoirs, Buckeys short paper. An Oige records. National and regional context ? Anything other than the estate not being worked ? Why demolition ?Have to pay attention to my other duties : Elphin, Dunraven and Munster News. Once LewisT is out will have more time hopefully.
16 4 Nov 2009 Back to work ! Cant get the census out of the Library, its not where its supposed to be. Nor is Townshends 20th Century Ireland ! Have also mailed local librarian about source material, hope to hear back – if they don’t have any Im stumped.
17 7 Nov 2009 No word from librarian yet. Will call when I know what I want. Looks like 18th century history is not as well documented or recorded as 19th century. So wrt year-end project and HI2111 essay, if I change my angle from the demolition of Mote Park to the idea that the gardeners of Mote, Clonbrock, Castlegar and a few others were in fact the founders of what was to become the RDS and not Prior, Madden, Molyeaux et al, then Im looking at early 18th century history. Not sure whats in the library for this period, or where to pursue elsewhere. Have put a feeler out to Marsh’s library, and will see if any leads or ideas ensue. (thanks to WayTwoTall).
18 1o Nov 2009 If there is something to it, then whats the significance ? It seems to me that theres a question around staffing at Estate Houses, as opposed to tenants – how they fit into the picture, their roles, freedoms – if,when and how they communicated with other Staff, and in the case of gardeners if they became active in Improvements, the move to Park land designs, and if there achievments were commandereed in name by their employers.
19 11 Nov 2009 Trying to think now of options for study, given that time is running out before essay submission, and that time in general is at a premium at the moment. Ideally what I want is something that I can research and investigate locally without having to travel for source access, and something that interests me. So options

  • what primary sources are in the local library ?
  • what primary sources are available elsewhere that relate to the locality – NAI, NLI, Historic Maps – what intersection ?
  • Built environment – rail, post. OPW ? Travel to Dublin for Rail records ? Need to locate Jeane Sheehys paper from 1975. Whats the topic – impact of rail on locality before, during and after inception ? Likewise for Post Office. Is there anything unusual about the buildings – the architect, situation, provenance ?
  • Kiloran Slate – employed many, hit by famine, used Killaloe and river for transport. Local – do records exist ?
  • Stella Cinema – I think Im going off this idea.
  • Gardeners at Mote etc – travel to Roscommon required. Not sure whats available in records, if anythng.
  • Augusta Croftons photographic habit – ? Clonbrock papers, other photographers of the time. The Fire of 1865 ?
  • Silvermines ?
  • Garrykennedy – inland waterways, trade, OPW etc.

This is starting to become a chore…

20 12 Nov 2009 Too much thinking, its driving me demented. Everything I consider for study seems to have been “done” or will have some factor missing that wont make it good history, or it’ll be plain intractable.It needs to be local, to have an event or transition, something that resonates in a wider context, something that signals its worth. It needs to have a primary source. Practically, it needs to be do-able – something thats not 100 miles away, but thats local or online.

  • The Corbally/Portroe/Killaloe Slate mine would give up some good stories, but I find that the company documents dont seem to exist, or I cannot locate them without spending weeks looking. A book has been written about the area (must check the biblio), but without a primary source then closer focus wont be possible. Imperial Slate Company, Mining Company of Ireland, William Headech. Derry Castle.
  • The local Fever Hospital may have stories (like the cocked up ambulance story from 1908, ridiculed in the BMJ – “Stories on incompetence from Poor Law Unions in North Tipperary”, “Famous murders in Nenagh”).
  • The Boat Planes on Lough Derg (wheres the source? whats the question ? “Ephemeral Testosterone driven Enterprises on the Shannon”).
  • The local rail station as a communications centre and hub for people and events ? (“Journalists recode stuff that happened elsewhere”). Slate transport. 1867 election mobs.
  • Social Networks – power & control, etc etc – gold mine. semantics. metadata.graphs.foaf.famine.politics.land.people……..-> ! perfect. A lifetime awaits me I think 🙂
21 13 Nov2009 More thinking, more Ideas. But I think Im on to something:

  • “Building the workhouses in North Tipp” – Wilkinson visits, work gangs, local people and resources used.
  • Grand Jury Whos who in 1846 or so – what was the social network, how did it relate to the board of guardians and other worthy establishments  – who owned what, what tenants were in the workhouses and fever hospital, what interests were shared, what marriages took place, what works were undertaken on their properties, what wages were paid, corruption, jobs-for-the-boys, relationships.
22 22 Nov 2009 Saw the Presentment books at Thurles yesterday. Pages and pages of records of road and bridge building, some “miscellaneous” snippets, “malicious injuries”, “deserted children”. Every year, every assize seems to have the same jurors and county officers. F. Prittie (Lord Dunally) takes centre stage there, and on the Nenagh Prison board of governers. Dunally papers are available at NLI, but now, as ever I ask myself what if I trace the connections of the people on the Grand Jury, or perhaps just those of Dunally, then what ? What does it say about them, the estate, the North Riding, the period of time I choose (and which time to choose) ? Its doing my head in, trying to find some angle, and 2 sources of information about a topic. Everything I elect as interesting seems to be either a dead end, or a mammoth task. Started to think about the railway building again, but now find that Railway Records guys are only open for a few hours on one evening of the week, and they have absolutely no contact details on the web site. Similarly, the idea about the Corbally slate mine (Imperial Slate Co) seems to have little if any source material. The industrial buildings and traffic on Lough Derg ? OPW ? But then, “so what” ? I must be doing something wrong…..
23 1 Dec 2009 Went to Tipperary archives again to have a look at some more and explore the range of source material. For Presentments, collection goes into early 20th century. Looked at Bagwell papers from 18th century- mostly lease agreements.Now think that the Turnpike idea is too narrow and a much better topic and question is the effect of the abolition of Grand Jury. Need to find suitable dates spanning 1898 – probably for legislation, but better if there are local events, to frame the question.
24 20 Jan 2010 Working away at Lewis Topographical Dictionary now that Im unemployed. But as I come across “husbandry” and “improvement” more and more it makes me think that as a topic its most interesting. Landlords as Gods. Enlightenment as Illumination. Catholocism as institutionally, socially, scientifically and thelogically backwards.
25 Jan 2010 Saw TV programme by Jonathan Meades on the  Isle of Harris. Lord Matheson bulit himself a toy Castle in the interests of Improvement, from his gains in the far east as an Opium distributor. Built roads in time of famine like the poor relief works in Ireland (one called Destitution Rd) and emigration to US and Canada was a popular “out” for him as well. Calvinism meant that even with only a third of the population being austere church goers, there are about 150 churches on the island – one for every 44 odd people. Links to John Smith in Aberdeen. Inimical.

cf : http://www.bbc.co.uk/legacies/heritage/scotland/western/article_3.shtml

N 2009 ABC.
N 2009 ABC.
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