Introduction to the Wicklow Library Service Local Studies Collection

View of Arklow Bridge taken from Mr and Mrs Halls Tour of Ireland . Vol 2. 1842. | Mr and Mrs Halls Tour of Ireland . Vol 2. 1842.
View of Arklow Bridge taken from Mr and Mrs Halls Tour of Ireland . Vol 2. 1842.
Mr and Mrs Halls Tour of Ireland . Vol 2. 1842.
Introduction to the Wicklow Library Service Local Studies Collection | 1938 Souvenir Programme of Glen of Imaal commemorative 1798 celebrations. Held in Wicklow Library Service local studies collection.
1938 Souvenir Programme of Glen of Imaal commemorative 1798 celebrations. Held in Wicklow Library Service local studies collection.

Local Studies Collections:

The local library is an invaluable resource for anyone interested in finding out about their local heritage and the people who created it.  From the academic scholar to the amateur historian, Wicklow County Library’s Local Study collection is a treasure trove of information covering the social, historical, political, and economic developments of modern and historic County Wicklow.

The collection contains over 3,000 items, including an extensive collection of local publications from the various parishes, villages and towns, and the industries, people and events that helped to shape them. This article provides a brief overview of some of the items held in the collection. .

Travel Directories:

Documenting landscape features, architecture, customs or local lore long since forgotten, travel directories and gazetteers can be a mine of information for the local historian. For example, Mr and Mrs Halls Tour of Ireland (1841 – 1843) and Samuel Lewis’ Topographical Dictionary of Ireland (London. 1837) provide us with a unique depiction of the county in the years leading up to the Famine.  Fast forward one hundred years and a more ‘contemporary’ overview of the cultural, physical and tourism-related assets of county Wicklow can be found in the Irish Tourist Association Topographical and General Survey (ITA) 1942/43 (see  ‘The Irish Tourist Association Topographical and General Survey’ by C. O’Brien also on this site.

Journals and Periodicals:

Local historical society journals are also an invaluable source of information. Written by dedicated and passionate local historians, they provide nuggets of local information, bringing to light the histories and events of people in their locality, which are often overlooked and undocumented in the history books. The library subscribes to a number of local historical society journals as well as more general publications such as Irish Roots, Archaeology Ireland, History Ireland and The Irish Sword.

Place-names:

Place-names can reveal so much about the world around us, providing us with a greater understanding of places, the histories that shape them and the people who inhabited them. Much of Wicklow’s place-name history can be found in the Liam Price notebooks. Recorded over several years, Liam Price documented not only place-names, but also the lore, cultural and linguistic developments that accompany them. The full collection of 28 notebooks can be consulted in the Local Studies library along with other relevant place-name publications.

Primary Sources:

As well as containing an extensive collection of secondary source material, the Local Studies Collection includes many primary sources.  These include Griffith’s Valuation, the Ordnance Survey letters and maps of the county, the Tithe Applotment Books of Wicklow, Hearth Money Rolls, and photographs.   The newspaper collection dates back to 1858, starting with the Wicklow Newsletter and continuing to the present with the Wicklow Standard, Wicklow Star and The Bray & Wicklow People newspapers.

Additional material:

The Local Studies collection holds a file on most of the civil parishes of County Wicklow. Each file contains miscellaneous material from periodical articles, history projects, newspaper cuttings, photos, pamphlets and other ephemera. These provide a good starting point for anyone interested in knowing more about the history and development of their local area.

 

Research Value:

Together, these primary and secondary sources play an invaluable role in helping us gain a deeper understanding of the people of County Wicklow and the social, economic and political landscape in which they lived.

 

Access:

Why not pay a visit to your local studies library and see what you can uncover about your local area?

The main Local Studies collection is currently housed in the Barton Room in Ballywaltrim library, Bray, County Wicklow.  It will soon relocate to the new Wicklow Town library which is under construction.  Smaller collections are also held in branch libraries and the complete collection can be explored on the Wicklow Library catalogue.

Details will follow as to when the service will re-open after the current restrictions.

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