Tuesday 26 April 2016

Military Archives: New reading room opened and new MSPC Medals Series records released

A new Military Archives building, which includes a larger and brighter Reading Room for researchers and state of the art storage facilities, has been opened by President Michael D Higgins at Cathal Brugha Barracks in Dublin.

The building is the fourth of nine Permanent Reminders to open as part of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme and the event was attended by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys TD who said: "The new Archives building and its online resources will provide state of the art archival facilities for some of our most important collections, including the ground-breaking Military Service Pensions Collection, which uncovered so much new material about the 1916 Rising.

"The collections in the Military Archives, which stretch from 1913 to the present day, are a key part of our documentary heritage, allowing historians, academics and anyone who is interested in our shared history to understand our past more clearly and explore the nation’s family history."

As well as the opening of the new building, the morning saw the launch of a fourth tranche of material from the Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Collection: the Medals Series database and its associated files. The 1916 Medal recognised those who were engaged in active service during the 1916 Rising and those who served during the period 1917-1921.

L) The 1916 Medal  R) The Service Medal
The database contains the names of 47,554 applicants who claimed for the 1916 Medal and the Service (1917-1921) Medal. In some cases, more than one file is available per person. The Medals files themselves can only be accessed at the Military Archives by appointment, but the online entries seem to give a very good indication of what the files hold.

An example for Willam Santry, a member of my extended family, is below:

"File relates to successful Service (1917-1921) Medal application. Service certified and duly awarded medal issued 11 October 1958. Subject claimed he was arrested and sentenced to six months hard labour for using explosives, and interned at Cork Jail, Spike Island, county Cork, and Maryboro Prison, Portlaoise, county Laois, from 3 February 1921 to 8 December 1921. Associated file DP30742: relates to subject's application for Special Allowance under the Army Pensions Acts in respect of illness or disability. Allowance awarded in 1959. File contains correspondence, memoranda, social welfare reports and means assessments. File also includes material relating to the payment of the balance of Special Allowance to subject's brother Joseph Santry on his death."

Search the MSPC database here (free). Use the 'Search in' menu to select the Medals Series.

There's more about the Medal Series database and making appointments here, and more about the Medals themselves here.