Historic pre-famine document goes on tour
Local historians and genealogy groups are being encouraged to to discover the stories behind the pre-Famine historical document The Morpeth Roll before it goes on a nationwide tour.
The roll has been rediscovered in recent years having been in a box in the stately home of Castle Howard in Yorkshire for almost 170 years.
It contains the signatures of 275,000 people who signed a testimonial to the departing chief secretary for Ireland George Howard, Lord Morpeth in 1841.
He was chief secretary from 1835 to 1841 at a time of relative peace and prosperity in Ireland between Catholic Emancipation in 1829 and the Great Famine in 1845.
Morpeth was evidently a popular figure and the roll includes signatories including Daniel O’Connell, Thomas Gavin and Charles Gavan Duffy who were in favour of the repeal of the Act of Union.
The roll, which if laid end to end would stretch the length of seven Liberty Hall, will be the subject of an academic conference tomorrow in Maynooth entitled The Gathering: Local History, Heritage and Diaspora’, which is providing information on it and how interested parties can become involved and research their local signatories.
The roll will go on a nationwide tour in February and is currently being digitised by the website Ancestry.com. The public will be able to look for their antecedents on it through an internet search engine.
The Morpeth Roll will be launched at NUI Maynooth in March next year where it has been analysed for a number of years, and will tour the country visiting locations such as Farmleigh, Derrynane, Kilkenny, Clonmel and Belfast, before returning to NUI Maynooth where it will remain on public view.
The Gathering: Local History, Heritage and Diaspora will be addressed by genealogy specialists discussing their work, highlighting the sources that they utilise, detailing the research resources available and discussing what can be derived from various channels.
Organised by the Department of History, NUI Maynooth, the event will feature talks by Tim O’Connor who is chairman of the board of The Gathering, Niall Burgess from the Department of Foreign Affairs and Professor Marian Lyons, Department of History, NUI Maynooth.
NUI Maynooth historian Dr Terry Dooley said the roll is an important historical document and a snapshot of Ireland before the cataclysm of the Famine.
“The research has the potential to provide a unique insight into Irish life, society and politics in pre-Famine Ireland and we are calling on historians, local genealogists and libraries to get involved in researching those from their locality who have signed the Morpeth Roll,” he said.