Sunday 25 September 2016

State archives to get €8m revamp in time for 'decade of centenaries'

Jane O'Faherty

Published 20/01/2016 | 02:30

Heather Humphreys looking at documents in the National Archives, Bishop Street, Dublin 8. Photo: Douglas O'Connor
Heather Humphreys looking at documents in the National Archives, Bishop Street, Dublin 8. Photo: Douglas O'Connor
The National Archives, Bishop Street, Dublin 8. Photo: Douglas O'Connor

Some four million State files are set to have a new home as part of a new €8m redevelopment of the National Archives of Ireland.

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The design and construction phase at the archives' Dublin headquarters in Bishop Street will begin later this year, and will see an estimated 100 million pages stored in more suitable conditions.

It is also hoped the investment will allow for sufficient storage to accommodate a change to a 20-year rule for the release of State papers.

Launching the plans, Arts Minister Heather Humphreys said the expansion would transform the building into a "state-of-the-art" facility.

"Thanks to the recovery, we're in a different position to invest in the archives," said the minister.

"The Government intends to gradually move to a 20-year rule for the release of State papers. Expanding and upgrading the National Archives is essential to cope with the increased demand that will come about as a result of this change," she added.

While the minister acknowledged that more staff may be needed to supervise the new facility, she stressed that the plan launched this week was the first stage of investment from the Government.

Ms Humphreys also said investment in accessibility of records was especially timely ahead of a "decade of centenaries" including the 1916 Rising and the Civil War.

"This is a very important part of our national history and our national collection, so it certainly needs to be invested in," she said.

The archives are currently located on the site of the Jacob's Biscuit Factory, a location long associated with the 1916 Rising.

At present, the State documents are stored in a warehouse to the rear of the Bishop Street premises, which dates back to the 1960s. The new development will include temperature and humidity control systems to ensure the best conditions for preserving items.

Although many use the archives for academic research or tracing their family history, archivists have also received more unusual requests from the public, such as for records of subsidised tomato growing on the Aran Islands.

The new development is set to begin in September 2016.

Irish Independent

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