Archives are the recorded or documentary heritage of a community, organisation, person or country, in whatever format that appears. Archives are part of our national and local heritage. They provide the raw material of history, as historians write the history of people and places based on preserved archival material. The Archives held by the Donegal County Council Archives Service are the written documentation that reflect the lives, progress, development, skills, language and culture of the people of Donegal.
Donegal Railways Poster
Donegal County Council holds one of the most extensive local authority archive collections in the country, including archives of both public and private origin. Archives include plans, drawings, maps, letters, minutes, agendas and reports of meetings, photographs, registers, financial documentation, diaries, handwritten manuscripts, posters, rentals, oral recordings and other material.
Among the most important records held by the County Archives are the Poor Law Union archives. These include minutes of the meetings of the eight Boards of Guardians which ran Donegal’s workhouses, and indoor and outdoor registers that are scarce elsewhere in the country. The Grand Jury archives, while not complete, date back to the mid-18th century and are of great significance in demonstrating the development of the county over a century and a half.
Extract from Gweedore Hotel Visitors Book, 1846
Other now extinct public bodies well represented in the County Archives collection include the Rural District Councils, Urban District Councils and the Board of Health & Public Assistance. The County Council itself which was established in 1899, has a huge collection of archival material, from Housing and Roads to Planning and Environment (only some of which have been transferred to the Archives Service).
The Collection includes several hundred Primary School registers and rollbooks deposited in the Archives by the schools, and there are significant records relating to the railways.
Privately acquired archives include the papers of the Donegal Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association (GAA), Buncrana Shirt Factory, the Steele Nicholsons of Falmore House, Inishowen, renowned Irish speaking poet, Cathal Ó Searcaigh, the historical papers collected by Father Patrick Gallagher of the Donegal Historical Society, estate records, photographs, oral history interviews, and papers of various well known families, including the Groves of Castle Grove and the Murray Stewarts of south Donegal.
The County Archives Collection: summaries of listed archives held in Donegal County Archives.