More room for the National Archives

 

Sir, – Your Commercial Property supplement carried a report about the proposed sale of the Aungier Street campus currently owned by the Technological University Dublin (formerly DIT) (“DIT tees up ¤100 million sale of Aungier Street campus”, September 25th).

The campus extends to some 2½ acres, was formerly part of the old Jacobs biscuit factory, and adjoins the premises of the National Archives.

Your reporter suggests four possible options for the commercial redevelopment of this site, but fails to mention the prospect of the National Archives acquiring all, or part of, this site.

It is generally recognised that the development of the archives is constrained by their lack of space.

An obvious solution to this problem would be for the Government to fund the transfer of these premises from the university to the archives. After all, the Department of Education arranged the transfer of the former DIT College of Catering, in Cathal Brugha Street, to a new second- level school.

I appreciate that the Government’s finances are facing certain challenges, in the near future. However, this sale represents a unique opportunity for the Government to provide a spatial resource for the archives, which opportunity is unlikely to present itself for many years to come.

We in Ireland place a very poor value on the importance of our archives, as the sequestration of the Land Commission archives (with their irreplaceable collection of title deeds and maps, in the main uncatalogued, unread and unresearched) in some midlands warehouse, attests.

An inspection of the citations in any work on Irish history will highlight the continuing reliance by Irish historians on Britain’s excellent archives, whether deposited at the UK National Archives at Kew, or throughout the United Kingdom.

In short, those who own the archives own the history. Our failure to maintain archives of a comparable nature and quality allows our nearest neighbours, in effect, to write our history for us. – Yours, etc,

JAMES PAUL

McDONNELL,

Harold’s Cross,

Dublin 12.