Wicklow hosts The Treaty 1921 – Records from the Archives exhibition

Wicklow Library & Archives

Wicklow Library & Archives 25 April – 17 May

The Treaty, 1921: Records from the Archives exhibition will open at Wicklow Library & Archives, Wicklow Town on 25 April, where it will stay until the 17 May.

This follows a hugely successful three-month exhibition at Dublin Castle where the Anglo-Irish Treaty 1921 went on public display for the first time. The exhibition marks the centenary of the signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty (6 December 1921).

Exhibition opening hours:

Mon, Wed, Fri, Sat: 10am – 5pm

Tues, Thurs: 10am – 8.30pm

(My Open Library card-holders can access the exhibition up to 10pm Monday to Saturday and from 9am to 10pm Sunday)

National Archives & partners

The exhibition is presented by the National Archives in partnership with the Royal Irish Academy, the National Library of Ireland and the Office of Public Works, with records from the collections of the Military Archives and University College Dublin. A virtual exhibition is also available online at www.nationalarchives.ie.

The Anglo-Irish Treaty is one of the most significant historical documents held by the National Archives. Using the Treaty as a centrepiece, the National Archives present an exhibition that marks its role as the official repository of the records of the State, one hundred years since its formation. The Treaty, 1921: Records from the Archives opens up significant historical records, official documents and private papers for the first time, including the first public presentation of both the Irish and British copes of the Treaty document.

Using contemporary reportage, images and footage, The Treaty, 1921: Records from the Archives locates the Treaty negotiations in the political context of the Irish revolution and a world turned upside down by the First World War. Beginning with the exploratory talks between Éamon de Valera, President of Dáil Éireann, and British Prime Minister David Lloyd George during the summer of 1921, it details the work of the Irish plenipotentiaries and their secretariat, by presenting the documentary record that they left behind.

Day-to-day life

The exhibition also chronicles day-to-day life in London for the men and women who made up the Irish delegation, from parties attended, dinners hosted and appearances at theatre and gala performances, to the tense final days and hours leading to the signing of the Treaty just after 2am on 6 December 1921. Finally, it documents the delegation’s return to Dublin, and the Dáil Éireann cabinet meeting that pointed to the split in the independence movement that emerged over the terms of the Treaty, and the divisions that would lead to Civil War.

Speaking in advance of the Wicklow opening, Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Catherine Martin TD said:

As Minister with responsibility for the State’s Commemorations Programme, I am committed to ensuring that this complex period in our history is remembered appropriately and meaningfully.  I am delighted therefore that this important exhibition commemorating the Treaty negotiations and the ultimate signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty in 1921, is touring regionally offering people across the country the opportunity to further their understanding of this period in our history through original records held in the collections of the National Archives.  The exhibition affords all who visit it a chance to better reflect and appreciate the difficult decisions that were made at that time.

Brian Gleeson, Chief Executive, Wicklow County Council, said:

I look forward to welcoming this important exhibition – The Treaty, 1921: Records from the Archives to County Wicklow, to our new Wicklow Library and Archives in Wicklow Town this year. The papers of our own Robert Childers Barton of Glendalough House, who was one of the plenipotentiaries of the treaty, will also feature in the Wicklow element of the exhibition, as well as other local records from the Wicklow County Archives collections.  Indeed, archival sources have featured strongly in our Decade of Centenaries programme, where local stories and experiences have been combined with research and scholarship in archival sources.  In doing so, it promotes a greater understanding of historical events and their legacies and thus encourages communities toward further exploration and reflection. It is a tangible demonstration of the benefits of free public access to authentic archival material, which is at the heart of this exhibition.

Orlaith McBride, Director of the National Archives, said:

We are delighted to bring this exhibition to Wicklow. The wide and vivid range of documents, images and text presented capture as never before the drama that was the Treaty negotiations in London in 1921 and does so in a way that evokes the personal stories and personalities with all the attendant tensions, hopes and disagreements. It represents a really significant contribution to our understanding of one of the most important few weeks in our country’s history.

Admission to the exhibition is free.  If you can’t make the exhibition, a virtual tour is also available online www.nationalarchives.ie.  This exhibition is presented as part of the Government of Ireland’s Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 National Programme.

Learning Resource for Schools

An Anglo-Irish Treaty Document Resource Pack for secondary schools has been developed by the National Archives in consultation with the Department of Education.

This teaching resource is based on Treaty records held in the National Archives and its contents are drawn mainly from the Dáil Éireann record series (DE/2–DE/4) and the papers of Treaty delegate and Minister for Economic Affairs Robert C. Barton. The DE/2 series consists of the administrative records of the Dáil Éireann Secretariat (1919–1922) relating to the Anglo-Irish Treaty negotiations while the DE/4 series contains the proceedings of the First and Second Dála (1919–1922) and papers relating to the peace negotiations of 1921.

The pack is intended for use as a supplementary source by teachers and students in parallel with their course work. It provides students with the opportunity to work with primary source material in the form of reproduction records relating to the negotiations and signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921.

  • The resource pack is organised into the following units:
  • Biographies of the Irish and British delegates who negotiated the Anglo-Irish Treaty
  • Eight key documents relating to the negotiations and signing of the Anglo-Irish Treaty
  • Timeline of events in 1921
  • Explanation of the Treaty articles
  • Research activity for Junior Cycle/Transition Year students
  • Glossary of terms
  • Online resources and further reading

These are self-contained units which can be explored either separately or in tandem with each other and teachers can decide which units and in what order to engage with in the classroom. The eight key documents are accompanied by associated questions and tasks which are categorised according to Junior and Senior Cycle and Transition Year levels. These records are complemented by supporting material such as delegate biographies, a timeline and an explanation of the Treaty’s content.

A hard copy of the resource pack will be distributed to secondary schools across the country and it will be available to download at www.nationalarchives.ie.

Wicklow records

The papers of Wicklow’s Robert Childers Barton of Glendalough House, who was one of the plenipotentiaries of the treaty, will also feature in the Wicklow element of the exhibition, as well as other local records from the Wicklow County Archives collections. The Military Archives has also kindly loaned items from their collections for the Wicklow exhibition.

Presented by the National Archives in association with Wicklow County Council,  The Treaty, 1921: Records from the Archives has been developed in partnership with the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media, Royal Irish Academy, the National Library of Ireland with records from the collections of the Military Archives and University College Dublin Archives.

Exhibition opening hours:

Monday 10am – 5pm; Tuesday 10am – 8.30pm; Wednesday 10am – 5pm

Thursday 10am – 8.30pm; Friday 10am – 5pm; Saturday 10am – 5pm

(My Open Library card-holders can access the exhibition up to 10pm Monday – Saturday and from 9am-10pm Sunday)

Details of Public Talks Programme in honour of the exhibition to follow shortly…..

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