Minister of State welcomes the launch of Kilmainham Gaol Autographs website (a unique collection of autograph books owned by prisoners during 1916)
4 January 17
Mr. Sean Canney TD, Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works (OPW) and Flood Relief today welcomed the launch of the Kilmainham Gaol Autographs website which is one of the key 1916 Commemoration projects associated with the famous visitor site in Dublin 8 where the Rising Leaders were executed.
“I am delighted to announce the launch of the new Autographs website today”, said the Minister this morning. “At the Kilmainham Gaol Museum, we have a treasure trove of wonderful artefact material, including approximately 120 original Autograph Books from the 1916 – 23 period. These volumes contain the personal signatures and thoughts of many people who were involved in the struggle for national independence and who sacrificed much for their country. The new website which has been provided by the Office of Public Works Heritage Service is intended to showcase this Collection and to, in a sense open a new page in the history of the Gaol, where members of the public can browse the Collection online and in turn share any material they might have themselves.”
The new website allows people to browse high quality facsimile images taken from 13 of the Books which have a particular strong connection with the 1916 era. Viewers can leaf through the pages individually and read directly from the signatures, mementoes and dedications recorded there to gain an insight into the lives and experiences of these remarkable people. The personal histories of approximately 480 individuals are explored with links to other sources such as the Bureau of Military History or the Census records from 1901 and 1911 so that readers can trace their personal stories and their subsequent history later in the national struggle.
The Office of Public Works Heritage Service are delighted to showcase this aspect of the Kilmainham Museum Collection for interested members of the public and believe that it will prove to be a hugely interesting and evocative online memorial for the men and women of 1916. They are also hopeful that it will encourage members of the public with interesting family stories to tell or memorabilia from the era connected to people who feature in the Autograph Books to come forward and connect with the Gaol Museum. The website contains a specific link page to allow members of the public to contact the Gaol staff with details of any memorabilia they would like to share.
“There is a wonderful opportunity to use this historic material as a spur to members of the public to come forward and share material of their own,” said Niall Bergin, General Manager of the Gaol Museum today. “We feel sure that there are many people whose antecedents were Veterans or who were later involved in the Gaol restoration effort in the 1960’s and may have valuable historic material such as photographs, letters, pension records etc, which will be a wonderful addition to the site and we would be delighted to meet with them and talk to them about what they have.”
The website was developed by the Office of Public Works Heritage Service at Kilmainham Gaol with the valuable assistance of their historical consultant, Professor Mike Cronin of Boston College, Dublin and can be accessed at www.kilmainhamgaolautographbooks.ie The OPW intends to continue to expand the site to include more material as it becomes available and will publish further books from the Collection on the site in due course.
For further information, please contact Ciaran Conroy, OPW Press Officer at firstname.lastname@example.org
Kilmainham Gaol Museum is open to the public year round and intending visitors can book tickets online at www.kilmainhamgaolmuseum.ie The site is open for Guided tours during normal daylight hours and visitors can have access to Café and Bookshop facilities in the new visitor facilities opened in 2016 at the former Kilmainham Courthouse building at the site.