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Wednesday, 20 April 2016

NAI releases 1916 Rising compensation claims online

John McDonough, the Director of the National Archives,
and Heather Humphreys TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage
and the Gaeltacht, at the launch this afternoon.
The National Archives of Ireland has released a new online collection (link below) detailing more than 6,500 compensation claims which were submitted to the Property Losses (Ireland) Committee in the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rising.

The collection has been fully indexed and is searchable by surname, location or business name.

The files consist of applications for compensation from individuals and businesses for damage to buildings and property, including loss of personal property, sustained as a result of the fighting, or subsequently as a result of fire and looting.

Although most of the claims relate to property and persons residing in Dublin, the collection contains a substantial number of claims for damage in Enniscorthy, County Wexford and a small number in County Galway.

The files include a huge range of small items, from jewellery which had been left for repair in one of the jewellery shops on Sackville Street, to personal effects belonging to chambermaids working in hotels in the city centre. The majority of claims are from individuals who lost small amounts of personal property or whose homes were damaged in the fighting. There is also a large number of claims from businesses and property owners.

Launching the new collection this afternoon in the Reading Room of the National Archives in Dublin, the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, said: “This new website provides a fascinating insight into the very personal cost of the Rising and the impact that the fighting had on both homes and businesses. As well as the lives lost during Easter Week 1916, many businesses were damaged or destroyed. These files go into incredible detail, listing the individual stock items lost by businesses during the Rising and providing us with a window into the homes of 1916, as people claimed for personal effects, both small and large.

“One of the buildings which was completely destroyed by the Rising was the Royal Hibernian Academy on Abbey Street Lower. A number of renowned artists lost works which were on display in the RHA, including Jack B Yeats and Sir John Lavery, both of whom subsequently submitted compensation claims.

“These compensation files illustrate the devastating impact of the Rising on Dublin city centre. Dublin was a city in flames, with hundreds of lives lost and many buildings and homes destroyed. In the aftermath of the Rising, as the political and social landscape continued to change, the families and businesspeople of the city had to pick up the pieces and get on with their lives in what was soon to become an utterly changed Ireland.”

John McDonough, the Director of the National Archives of Ireland, said: “The compensation files being released today give a unique window into the material damages caused in April 1916. Through these files we gain a real sense of the losses to individuals and businesses. The files will enable historians and family members to research the impact of the fighting on peoples’ lives and the claims they made in an attempt to rebuild them.”

A new dedicated area of the National Archives website – http://centenaries.nationalarchives.ie – holds the collection.