herald

Monday 26 September 2016

Historic trove of documents discovered in city attic

Garda Commissioner Noirin O Sullivan and Siptu chief Jack O’Connor examine the arrest records. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins
Garda Commissioner Noirin O Sullivan and Siptu chief Jack O’Connor examine the arrest records. Photo: Gareth Chaney / Collins

A treasure trove of police arrest records from one of the most pivotal times in Irish history has been returned to gardai after sitting in a Dublin attic for almost a century.

The four missing volumes of Prisoner Books listing the arrests of more than 30,000 people between 1905 and 1918 include the "crimes" of labour leaders Jim Larkin (seditious conspiracy), James Connolly (incitement to crime), revolutionary Maud Gonne MacBride (defence of the realm), and suffragette Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington (glass-breaking with other suffragettes).

The arrest records of the Dublin Metropolitan Police are "arguably the most important documents to come to light in recent history", UCD librarian Dr John B Howard said at a ceremony at Liberty Hall yesterday in which the library's recently digitised arrest records were made public.

The records - which went missing in 1924 - cover one of the most turbulent times in Irish history, including World War One, the 1913 Dublin Lockout, the 1916 Easter Rising and its aftermath, and the Conscription Crisis of 1918.

By sheer fluke, they were found in a skip by an eagle-eyed passer-by who turned them over to a guard who in turn gave them to retired Store Street Det Supt Michael Finn.

He contacted historian and author Padraig Yeates, who has published numerous books on the period.

"As soon as I saw the first volume, I knew this was a major find," Mr Yeates said.

The records were discarded when a house in Clontarf was being renovated in 2013.

Mr Yeates believes the previous occupants were most likely attached to the Bridewell Garda Station and took the books when records were being thrown out following the foundation of the Irish Free State in 1922.

Missing

Other volumes covering the period from 1907 to 1911 are still missing, and Mr Yeates has appealed to anyone who may have them to hand them over.

The found volumes will now be returned to the Garda Museum to accompany the only previously existing one from October-December 1915.

The collection gives a fascinating insight into life in Dublin at the turbulent time which is "remarkably close to James Joyce's dirty Dublin", Mr Yeates said.

Promoted articles

Entertainment News