Documents saved from 1922 public record office fire to be conserved

Tranche of documents saved from Four Courts related to Dublin port to be restored

Precious documents relating to Dublin port, which were saved from the Public Record Office fire in the city’s Four Courts in the opening engagement of the Civil War, are set to be restored.

In the aftermath of the fire on June 30th, 1922, more than 25,000 sheets of paper and parchment were retrieved from the rubble. These records, which date from the 14th to the 19th centuries and are known as the ‘1922 salved records’, are now held at the National Archives.

During a recent investigation of unopened parcels of the records, archivists identified a number of documents significant to the history of Dublin port.

The documents, which date from 1817-1818, include thousands of sheets of paper, which are all somewhat damaged from the heat of the flames. Some were further damaged by damp and rain due to their exposure to the weather following the fire.

The documents will be available to researchers and the public once their restoration is complete. They are also going to be digitised.

The papers create a snapshot of how busy Dublin port was in the 1800s. Hundreds of people from around the country, from ports in Killybegs, Strangford and Youghal, came to Dublin to collect salaries, pensions and trade in goods.

The documents also contain details on salaries and compensations, and the names of inspectors and custom tax collectors. They provide accounts about wine, bounties on beef and pork, allowances on silk, and repayments of taxes on fish, ash, salt and linen.

There are more than 50 documents relating to the bounty payments for fish in the summer of 1817, including information on the ship, crew members and the size and type of catch.

All of the papers include important details of trade and commerce in Dublin port that do not exist anywhere else.

Decade of Centenaries

Most of the 1922 salved records collection remained unopened until the last five years. However, as part of the Decade of Centenaries programme some of these documents will be restored.

The Dublin Port Company is supporting the conservation team at the National Archives of Ireland to restore the Dublin port records.

The conservation work is being undertaken by Beyond 2022 project conservator Jessica Baldwin, under the guidance of Zoe Reid, keeper of public services and collection.

“The care that staff in the Public Record Office demonstrated over 100 years ago in their mission to save as many records as possible is now being continued by a highly skilled and committed team of archivists and conservators working together to uncover and reveal a snapshot of what life looked like at Dublin port in 1922,” said Minister for Culture Catherine Martin.

Dublin Port chief executive Eamonn O’Reilly said it was delighted to add to its archive materials by supporting the conservation of the records.