Frequently Asked Questions

Where is the archive building?

Is car parking available at the County Archives?

What are the opening hours?

Is internet access available?

Is it possible to get copies of documents?

Can I bring my camera into the Research Room?

Does Louth County Archives provide a research service?

What are the oldest archival documents held?

Can I donate archives or records?

Do the archives receive any conservation treatment?

What is records management?

What is a closed record?

Who and what is the Certifying Officer?

Do you hold any archives relating to the former gaol at Dundalk which closed in 1931?

What type of gaol was it?

Was anyone famous imprisoned in the gaol?

When and where did the escape from the gaol take place?

Were many executions carried out at Dundalk Gaol?

 


Where is the archive building?

Our archive building is located on the Ardee Road, Dundalk, approximately five minutes walk to the town centre.  The pedestrian entrance gate is through the high stone walls on the Ardee Road at the rear of Dundalk Garda Station (please note that there is no public access via the adjacent Machinery Yard).


Is car parking available at the County Archives?

Louth County Archives is currently unable to directly provide customer parking.  However, there is some street parking on the adjacent Ardee Road. 


What are the opening hours?

Opening hours are by appointment (telephone or email), preferably one week in advance (or more if travelling long-distance): Mon - Fri: 9am - 12pm, 2pm - 4pm.
We are closed at weekends, bank holidays, Good Friday, and Christmas Eve through to the first working day after New Year's Day.


Is internet access available?

Yes, we have a computer in our Research Room providing free internet access. 


Is it possible to get copies of documents?

We provide a copying service where possible, however, fees apply.  Certain items may not be copied due to copyright or if the item is of a fragile or vulnerable condition.


Can I bring my camera into the Research Room?

No, cameras are not permitted in the Research Room without prior permission of the County Archivist. Security cameras are in operation.


Does Louth County Archives provide a research service?

No, Louth County Archives does not provide a research service due to staff resources.  However, if you wish to employ a professional researcher, there is a list of genealogy researchers who undertake paid searches in the National Archives and elsewhere; click on Genealogy Researchers on the National Archives of Ireland website.


What are the oldest archival documents held?

The oldest archival documents held in our headquarters at the Old Gaol are Drogheda legal documents dating to 1628 (the eldest is an indenture of John Dowdall, Drogheda and Francis Dillon, Morton, County Meath who let land located in Dublin). Our other oldest archival documents include a survey of Dundalk dating to 1655 and a survey of the Commons of Atherdie (Ardee) dating to 1677.  The majority of our holdings date to the nineteenth – twentieth centuries while a moderate quantity dates to the eighteenth century.


Can I donate archives or records?

Louth County Archives is always delighted to receive donations of archives that illustrate the social, economic, cultural and historical development of County Louth.  The Service has already acquired numerous private donations such as material from national schools, local committees and societies, local businesses, family papers, estate papers, maps, photographic collections and so on.


Do the archives receive any conservation treatment?

A conservation priority list is kept and reviewed periodically and as resources permit archival documents in poor condition receive treatment.  Conservation treatment is carried out by a professional conservator, while basic preventative conservation and preservation is carried out by Archives staff through the removal of items such as metal paper fasteners (clips, pins, staples, etc) and rubber-bands. These are replaced with inert plastic clips, and packed in acid-free tissue, folders, and boxes.  Over the years we have been fortunate in obtaining several awards of funding from the Heritage Council for conservation projects with Louth County Council also contributing funding.  Treatment has been carried out on both public and private collections.


What is records management?

Records management describes the management of records that are generally under thirty years old, through the current and non-current stages of the records’ life cycle.  The purpose of a records management system is to provide centralised control over a decentralised filing system.


What is a closed record?

A closed record or archive is one, which has been certified by the Certifying Officer to be withheld from public inspection. The reasons for this include:

  • Would or might constitute a breach of statutory duty, or a breach of good faith on the ground that they contain information supplied in confidence.

  • Would or might cause distress or danger to living persons on the ground that they contain information about individuals, or would or might be likely to lead to an action for damages or defamation.

  • Would be contrary to the public interest.

Taken from Guidelines for Local Authority Archives Services, December 1996


Who and what is the Certifying Officer?

The local authority archives service has its own Certifying Officer.  The Certifying Officer is a senior staff member appointed by the County Manager. It is normally the Director of Corporate Services. Some of the Certifying Officer's responsibilities include:

  • Overall responsibility for records and archives in the local authorities.

  • Certify records to be withheld from public inspection or 'closed' and certify records and archives for disposal.

  • Sign all certificates made in accordance with the above procedures.

Taken from Guidelines for Local Authority Archives Services, December 1996


Do you hold any archives relating to the former gaol at Dundalk which closed in 1931?

Louth County Archives holds a very small quantity of archives relating to the former gaol at Dundalk which closed in 1931 and in which we are now located.  The most popular item we hold is a microfilm copy of Dundalk Jail Register dating to 1917 – 1931 (no entries for 1923) – the original of this is held by the National Archives of Ireland.  We also hold a small quantity of items that were donated by locals such as a small number of photographs, a handwritten letter referring to events after the famous escape in 1922, an item of jewellery made by a prisoner and a prisoners' autograph book.  In the Grand Jury archive collection, a Superintendent's Minute Book exists for the previous old gaol that was located in Crowe Street Dundalk (site of the Town Hall), dating from 1849 – 1852.   If you have archives relating to the gaol that you would like to donate, please get in touch.


What type of gaol was it?

When originally built in 1853, the gaol was classed as a county borough gaol for imprisonment administered by grand juries. The other class of gaol that existed at the time (up until the General Prisons Act (Ireland) was passed in 1877) was the convict prison or government prison used for penal servitude or transportation.  In 1915, the Gaol was taken over by the British military and in 1917 the Governor’s house (now Dundalk Garda station) was adapted as a hospital for British soldiers by a local Voluntary Aid Detachment.  The Gaol was later used as a prison for political prisoners during the War of Independence, and again during the Civil War, after which it reverted to civil use before being closed down in 1931.


Was anyone famous imprisoned in the gaol?

The more well-known individuals imprisoned in Dundalk Gaol were confined during the period of Anglo-Irish struggle.  These included Frank Aiken who was leader of the Fourth Northern Division of the IRA during the Civil War period and who later became a Government Minister (Defence; Finance; and External Affairs); Austin Stack who led a hunger strike during the Anglo-Irish struggle and later became Minister for Home Affairs; Sean Treacy who was an Officer in the Third Tipperary Brigade and who took part in a hunger strike during the 1917-18 period; and Diarmuid Lynch who is known as an architect of the 1916 Rising was imprisoned in Dundalk gaol in the 1917-18 period.


When and where did the escape from the gaol take place?

During the Civil War on 27th July 1922 a successful attempt was made to release the anti-treaty prisoners including Frank Aiken (who later became a Government Minister) from the Gaol.  A mine was placed against the perimeter wall on the Ardee Road, which was followed by a grenade attack on the gaol.  Having been previously alerted, over one hundred prisoners escaped.  Traces can still be found of this escape next to our entrance gate on the main Ardee Road.  For a transcript of escapees from Dundalk Jail Register, see our Archive Collections webpage.


Were many executions carried out at Dundalk Gaol?

It is unknown what the exact figure of executions was; however, the last three executions were carried out in June 1923 when prisoners Thomas McKeown from Cooley, John McNulty from Belleek, and Thomas Murray from Co. Meath were executed by firing squad.