Wednesday, 10 February 2016

Wicklow County Archives to find permanent home

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After more than seven years in its temporary home within County Buildings on the edge of Wicklow Town, Wicklow County Archives & Genealogy Service is planning to relocate to a permanent new home.

The move includes Wicklow Town library, which is currently situated just outside the famous Wicklow Gaol. The two complementary services will share their new accommodation.

Archivist Catherine Wright told Irish Genealogy News that the final decision has yet to be taken on where the new permanent home will be, but the options have been narrowed down to just two choices.

"It will certainly be in Wicklow Town and it will include a Readers' Room, something we've been lacking here at County Buildings," she said. "It will also be large enough to accommodate all of our 'current' material, and to allow us to display or exhibit samples of our wonderful collections." The existing premises in County Buildings will be retained as the archives' storage space.

At some point, Catherine will have to start the time-consuming task of ear-marking material for the move, but not just yet! She's been very busy with the county's 1916 commemmorative programme, and as part of that, has been heavily involved in launching an app:

The app aims to give the viewer a sense of everyday life in Co Wicklow during the year of the Rising, and does this through weekly updates of newspaper snippets from the county's two prominent news titles of that time – the Wicklow People and the Wicklow NewsLetter.

Although most of my mother's family had moved to County Carlow by 1916, some of my direct ancestors were still in Wicklow Town at the time of the Rising, so I was curious to explore the app and see what they'd have been reading and caring about and discussing with friends and neighbours. From the app I found that topics in their newspapers 100 years ago included the new bathing boxes for Bray seafront, a letter to the mother of a Rathnew soldier at the Front, a GAA tournament on the Murrough, war news from France and Belgium, a robbery at Atkinson's chemist shop in Rathdrum, and an account of the items for sale when the Cherry Tree pub in Killincarig (Delgany) went to auction. In the latter report, the items included an upright piano, stuffed birds, five guns and a donkey and trap!

In addition to the news reports, the app presents train timetables, adverts for fashionable goods and cure-alls, and some excellent vintage photographs of the county's towns and views.

It's worth a browse even if you don't have family connections to Wicklow! If you don't want to download the app, you can get its flavour on the website version at