Muintir na Tíre has recently donated its archive to NUI Galway. Muintir na Tíre is one of the most important national associations for the promotion of community development in Ireland. It was founded in 1937 by Canon John Hayes, in Tipperary (a future blog will focus on Canon Hayes). Through its core principles of neighbourliness, self-help and self-reliance, Muintir na Tíre has promoted and supported the concept of active community participation and championed the idea of community development in both Ireland and Europe.
This is a very significant archive of an organisation which from its beginnings sought to revitalise local communities in rural Ireland and foster and develop a community spirit from the 1930s to the present day.
This substantial archive consisting of 162 boxes and approximately 8,217 items was transferred to the James Hardiman Library in December of 2016. The archive consists of paper files, publications, photographs, loose documents, floppy disks, VHS tapes, cassette tapes, vinyl and bound volumes.
The archive came from the headquarters of Muintir na Tíre, Canon Hayes House, Tipperary. The archive was stored in banker’s boxes which were arranged by Muintir via two projects in 2010 and 2015 an example below:
and in shelves like the picture below:
The material that was selected from the shelves were transferred to us in large boxes as shown below:
I have been hired to review, arrange and catalogue the archive. I being Fiona Kearney a qualified archivist and records manager. I began researching Muintir na Tíre by reading Stephen Rynne’s “Father John Hayes: founder of Muintir na Tíre, People of the Land”, Mark Tierney’s “The Story of Muintir na Tíre 1931-2001 – the First Seventy Years” and various articles and theses written on Muintir na Tíre. This has given me a good understanding of the organisation and the work that it did throughout its history. A search of our collection can be seen here.
I have already begun opening the boxes to explore the wonders of the collection. I am currently identifying what the files contain so that I can begin to arrange the collection. This phase also involves some conservation work where I am removing rusty staples and paper clips and replacing them with plastic paper clips which do not damage the paper.
An example of a completed file and a file that has rusty paperclips and staples.
I am replacing the folders with acid free ones. I am also identifying any records that need further conservation work or which will need to be copied such as thermal paper, predominantly fax paper.
The process of archiving a collection from receipt to discoverability and availability to researchers takes a considerable time. I have fifteen months to complete this project. The end result will look like this.
I hope you will join me on my journey of archiving the collection where I will provide monthly updates on the project.