Launch online of the first release of material from the Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Collection at G.P.O. Dublin on 16th January 2014
by An Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny T.D.
The Taoiseach, Mr Enda Kenny, T.D., launched the first release on line of material from the Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Collection at the G.P.O., O’Connell Street, Dublin this evening. This event was part of the National Commemorative Programme, co-ordinated by the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Mr Jimmy Deenihan, T.D. The Minister for Justice, Equality & Defence, Mr Alan Shatter T.D. and Minister Deenihan were in attendance at the launch.
The Military Service Pensions Archive project is a cornerstone project of the Government Decade of Centenaries 2012-2022 Commemorative programme and the Collection numbers almost 300,000 application files for pensions, allowances and medals as well as supporting documentation. This first online release of material from the Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Collection is primarily focused on the participants of the 1916 Rising. Future releases of material from the Military Service Pensions Collection will take place over the coming years. The material is available at www.militaryarchives.ie.
In launching the release of material on line, the Taoiseach said "I would like to thank all those who have put so much work into bringing this project to fruition today. As well as bringing the era to life for a new generation, this online archive will provide a great resource for those already interested in the period. It is an important part of the Government's Centenary Commemoration Programme and honours the memory of those who lived and served their country during this defining period in Irish history."
Speaking in relation to the launch, Minister Shatter said that “The Collection records the personal commitment and sacrifice by those men and women who shouldered the task of gaining independence for this country. The release of these records to researchers will transform the scholarship of the period, and provide Irish people at home and abroad with fascinating and copious information about their ancestors who played a part in the establishment of independent Ireland.”
Minister Shatter was also delighted to announce that funding has been made available over the period 2014 to 2016 for the provision of a Military Archive facility at Cathal Brugha Barracks as part of the Government’s Decade of Commemorations programme.
Minister Deenihan welcomed the release of the material from the Collection and said “I would emphasise the opportunity this archive presents members of the public to see the records of their ancestors, members of a remarkable generation. This archive will greatly facilitate research of this period of history, bringing it within the reach of all. Also, in this the year when we will commemorate the centenary of the foundation of Cumann na mBan, these archives will shine a light on the significant - but often overlooked - contribution that women made to the struggle for Irish independence.”
Note for Editors
The Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Collection
The Department of Defence, as part of the Government Centenary Commemoration programme, is cataloguing and partially digitising the Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions files, in the custody of the Military Archives. The entire Collection comprises some 300,000 files generated as a result of applications for:
· service pensions from veterans involved in the Easter Rising, the War of Independence and the Civil War,
· allowances from the dependants of those killed on active service or from those wounded or incapacitated while on duty during the period and
· the award of the 1916 Medal and The Service (1917-1921) Medal.
In all some 85,000 veterans applied to the Department of Defence, not all of whose files will be available online in the run up to centenary of the 1916 Rising in 2016.
A phased release of material into the public domain is planned. The first launch of the Military Service (1916-1923) Pensions Collection (MSPC) comprises in excess of 10,000 files relating to 3,200 individuals who were members of the Irish Volunteers, The Citizen Army, the Hibernian Rifles, the Irish Republican Army, Cumann na mBan, Na Fianna Éireann or The National Army during the period 1916 to 1923 and who were awarded service pensions or allowances. 2,400 of these are 1916 veterans. Also included in the release is a range of files giving broad contextual and other relevant information and which features the membership rolls of the Irish Volunteers, the Irish Citizens’ Army, Cumann na mBan and Na Fianna Éireann as on 11th July 1921 and 1st July 1922. In addition, four files are being released detailing the results of the investigation by the referee and advisory committee into the activities of the Irish Volunteers and Cumann na mBan during Easter Week 1916 in Counties Louth, Galway (2 files) and Wexford.
A Guide to the Collection has been produced. This provides background information on the origin, scope and content of the material in the collection and a guide to the relevant legislation under which the various pensions, allowances and medals were awarded. It also contains 3 essays by the Academic Advisory Committee to the project.
The project is overseen by a Working Group comprising representatives of the Department of Defence and the Defence Forces, the Department of An Taoiseach, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and the National Archives.
The Academic Advisory Committee to the project consists of historians Professor Charles Townshend, Professor Eunan O’Halpin and Professor Diarmaid Ferriter.
A team of archivists is in place and work on the project is progressing at Cathal Brugha Barracks, Rathmines, Dublin.
The Government has made funds available over the period 2014-2016 under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2022 Commemorative arrangements to improve the Military Archive facility at Cathal Brugha Barracks, Rathmines, Dublin 6.
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