To collect, preserve, promote and make available for research archival collections relating to Irish estates.
Launched by President Mary McAleese at a reception on Thursday, 13 November 2008, the OPW-NUI Maynooth Archive and Research Centre at Castletown was established to facilitate the care and study of archives and other sources dealing with the history of Irish estates, their houses and inhabitants. It also facilitates research in the decorative arts. This facility marks an exciting new collaboration between the Office of Public Works and the National University of Ireland, Maynooth.
The Archive and Research Centre is located on the second floor of Castletown House in Celbridge, Co. Kildare. Built between 1722 and 1729 for William Conolly, Speaker of the Irish House of Commons and the wealthiest commoner in Ireland, Castletown House is Ireland’s largest and earliest Palladian style house. After decades in the care of Desmond Guinness and the Castletown Foundation, it passed in 1994 to the ownership of the Irish State. The Office of Public Works has since refurbished Castletown, and in 2007 reopened it as a major cultural and community resource.
Amongst the treasures of the new centre is the Strokestown Estate Archive, which provides a unique glimpse into the Anglo-Irish lifestyle of the Pakenham Mahon family in County Roscommon between the eighteenth and twentieth centuries. Containing both family and estate papers, the collection includes correspondence, photographs, maps and plans, property deeds, rent books, labour returns, pamphlets and press cuttings.
The archive reflects both the private and public lives of different members of the family, addressing a variety of different subjects including marriage and family life, war, estate management, rent collection, evictions and emigration, agrarian outrages, and local education.
Of particular importance, however, are the papers relating to the Great Famine which provide a truly moving account of Ireland’s greatest social disaster on record, whilst offering a voice to its many victims. This part of the collection includes a document relating to an ancestor of President Mc Aleese, Mary Lenahan of Elphin Street in Strokestown. Her name appears on a list of individuals who received meal on Strokestown Estate in 1846.
The Reading Room will be closed to researchers over the coming months so that professional work on the archives can be completed. Researchers will be notified of the opening date in due course.
We are continually seeking new additions to our growing collection of estate material. Any person wishing to donate original material for permanent preservation and research please contact the Archive and Research Centre.
OPW-NUI Maynooth Archive & Research Centre at Castletown
|Tel:||Monday – Tuesday:||00 353 1 708 6690 (NUIM)|
|Wednesday:||00 353 87 235 1767 (NUIM/Castletown)|
|Thursday – Friday:||00 353 654 4222 (Castletown)|
|Mob:||00 353 87 235 1767|
|Fax:||00 353 1 601 2928|