The idea was first propounded by Hubert Butler in the Butler Journal over thirty years ago. The plan surfaced again in June 1995, when the OPW announced the final phase of development in Kilkenny Castle. An action group to promote the establishment of an archives was formed. A seminar was hosted in Rothe House, Kilkenny, to inform the public at large and to ascertain what support there was for the project.
Following the seminar a meeting took place with Commissioner Scully and the senior personnel at the Office of Public Works. The meeting took place in January 1996, with the purpose of trying to get the OPW’s commitment to an archives. Subsequently a meeting took place with the County Manager and officials with whom the responsibiity lies to provide an archives under The Lcal Government Act 1994 (Section 65). The County Manager stated that the County Council was already investing heavily in a conference centre in Kilkenny Castle and that there were no further funds for the archives, but agree to recommend the idea to the Office of Public Works. The January meeting revealed that they were well dsposed towards the project and produced an advanced set of plans incorporating the archives. They set down the following conditions:
a. The committee should form a limited company.
b. That £50,000 be deposited with the Office of Public Works by January 1998.
This would secure the establishment of an archives. These conditions were accepted and Kilkenny Archives are working to raise the required money.
The object of the Archives
To collect and maintain archival material of local, regional and national interest and to preserve and prepare the collections for use by academics and the general public.
The Archives will further develop interest in local history and our heritage. This in turn can develop a sense of identity within our community and assist our tourist trade.
Archives are the raw materials of history. The letters, diaries, papers, farm and business accounts, estate records, family papers, and manuscript maps of the past are today’s invaluable tools for the historian, the geographer, the teachers and their pupils, the researcher and the genealogist. All these groups, seeking to reconstruct the past, depend on the records which our ancestors left us.
In essence, these records when deposited in an archive become the collective memory of a society at large.
The material needs to be identified, collected, correctly stored, catalogued and properly presented if it is to be of any use to us. It also needs to be properly perserved as it is a fragile resource easily lost through ignorance or neglect.