New Material donated to Kilkenny Archives by the Prior-Wandesforde Family, formerly of Castlecomer House.

Over 2000 letters written by Capt. Richard Henry Prior-Wandesforde, during the Great War years, to his wife, Florence, starting from the time of the couple’s engagement in 1895 until their deaths in the 1950s have been gifted. The letters contain many hitherto unknown details about the operations of the Castlecomer Colliery and much too about their private family life, during the early years of the Irish Free State. 
Material will shortly be accessioned and become available. 

NEW addition to the Kilkenny Archives collection: Letters written by Captain Richard Prior-Wandesforde and his son, Lt Christopher Prior-Wandesforde during the Great War years. Donated November 2012.

Prior-Wandesforde Gift of Great War Letters.

Just this week Mr and Mrs. Peter Prior-Wandesforde have confirmed in writing that they wish to make an outright gift to Kilkenny Archives Ltd  of the letters of Lt. Christopher Prior-Wandesforde (1897-1917) which were written from the trenches of France and Flanders to his family at Castlecomer House. Also included in this very valuable gift are the letters of Christopher’s father, Captain Richard Prior-Wandesforde who served until illness forced his retirement after the death of his eldest son.

Captain Richard Prior-Wandesforde and his son Lt Christopher Prior-Wandesforde.

Captain Richard Prior-Wandesforde (known as ‘Wandy’) because of his age could have escaped front-line duty but he choose not to do so.  After the war the letters of their lost son were carefully kept and some of them were annotated by the grieving parents. The last letter written by Lt. Christopher to his mother, arrived in Castlecomer a few days after his death: to-day the envelope bears the inscription ‘my beloved first-born’s last letter home’. Many an Irish home had similar experiences during the 1914-1918 period.

Captain Richard Prior-Wandesford and his wife, Florence, on their wedding day.

Lt Christopher Prior-Wandesforde and his younger brother Lt Ferdinand Prior-Wandesforde, from Kilkenny Families in the Great War, by Brannigan amp; Kirwan, 2012, pp. 330-1.

Christmas Card, 1915.

Christmas Card, 1915.

Christmas Card, 1915.

The Bryan Guinness Trust Grant

Recently too Kilkenny Archives Ltd., which is how housed on the St. Kieran’s College Campus through the generosity of the President and Trustees, was awarded a grant of €5,000 by the Bryan Guinness Memorial Trust which is based in Hampshire, England. Back in 1994-5, when we were starting out under the auspices of the late Mrs. Susan Margaret (Peggy) Butler, widow of Hubert, it gave us a very generous grant of £10,000 which got us up and running. The Hon. Desmond Guinness a son of Brian Guinness backed our current appeal to his family Trust.

Lanigan and Toler-Aylward Families.

Two other local families notably the Toler-Aylwards of  Shankill, Paulstown and the family of Mrs. Kitty Laniga (née Harte), who is perhaps best remembered in her native place for the excellent architectural guide of Kilkenny which she did with Gerald Tyler, which is a treasure in many a Kilkenny library. The Lanigan photographs document our city in the 1960s and early 1970s, just before momentous changes occurred.

The Guinness Trust money has been set aside to start the work on the Toler-Aylward Papers. This is not the first time that this family has given valuable material to the city: the presence of the Toler-Aylward Costume Collection at Rothe House is a testimony to  past generosity.

The directors and officers of Kilkenny Archives are: Brendan Conway (chairman), Peter Seaver (treasurer), John Kirwan (secretary and working archivist), the Rev. Dr. Fergus Farrell, Ann Tierney, Julia Crampton amp; Nicholas Mosse. Contact maybe made through Kilkenny Archives internet site or to John Kirwan 085-7484291.  The catalogued collections are open to research by the general public.

John Kirwan, Archivist

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