Saturday, 11 August 2012

Irish Bureau of Military History records online

Carrick-on-Suir Heritage Centre
I'm just back from a week's camping in Ireland, where amongst my travels I managed to cram in some research at the Carrick-on-Suir Heritage Centre in County Tipperary. One of the lines of research I was pursuing was involvement by my wife's great uncle in the IRA campaign from 1916-22 that led to the partition of Ireland, following the War of Independence. I had previously managed to read a witness statement of Carrick based IRA volunteer Seamus Babington, given many years later, which contained several useful references to my wife's relative, although the version of the document placed online by Limerick Archives a couple of weeks ago was incomplete, with many pages missing. The Heritage Centre had several amazing documents donated by Babington's family, but not a complete version of his witness statement.

I was therefore delighted to learn this morning upon my return that the Bureau of Military History website, from the Republic of Ireland's Defence Department's Military Archives (, has finally gone live at The Bureau was established in 1947 'to assemble and co-ordinate material to form the basis for the compilation of the history of the movement for Independence from the formation of the Irish Volunteers on 25th November 1913, to the 11th July 1921.'  It gathered some 36,000 pages of statements from 1773 witnesses who had served with the Irish Volunteers, the IRA, Cumann na mBan, the Irish Republican Brotherhood, Sinn Féin, the Irish Citizen Army, relatives of deceased individuals and people not associated with any specific organisation. All of these are now online - including a complete version of Seamus Babington's statements, now some 177 pages in length, compared to the 156 page incomplete version I had previously read. The site also contains press cuttings and audio visual reports.

As a record of how one part of the United Kingdom broke away to form its own self-governing nation some ninety years ago, it is a truly extraordinary online resource, and all credit to the Department of Defence for making it available online.

This researcher is going to plunder its depths for most of the rest of the day!

(With thanks to @IrishRoots and @findmypastie)

UPDATE: An article on the new collection also appeared in the Irish Times on Tuesday August 7th - see


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