More than 1,000 collections — varying from a single document to 800 boxes — are stored and preserved in the country’s first standalone archive building in Blackpool on the northside of Cork City.
But work is progressing steadily to provide an insight into their contents, through the cataloguing work of staff at Cork City and County Archives.
It has just launched its searchable website, where researchers, historians and members of the public can check if names, places or other words relevant to their area of interest, feature among the vast collections.
Almost 20,000 maps, photographs and architectural drawings are among the items held, along with 26,000 boxes of written documents.
The research value of the holdings is increasing enormously as the public gains a better insight into the contents.
Demo of new online catalogue to colleagues in UCC Library this am.. great to see such interest in things archival http://t.co/mntHluCjL6— Cork Archives (@corkarchives) May 20, 2014
“We have 3,000 to 4,000 requests a year for people to view documents here in our reading room, around one-third would be for genealogical or family research. Another third would be people doing academic research and the last group are independent researchers,” said archivist Brian McGee.
“We’re noticing family history and genealogy getting more and more popular, and with the expansion of the catalogues, people can get a better idea what we have here before visiting or calling us,” he said. “The catalogue will particularly benefit those undertaking local history and family history research, and the diaspora seeking their Irish heritage,” Mr McGee said.
A decade of meticulous cataloguing by archive staff has already taken place, with at lease another decade needed to fully document what lies in the holding rooms of the archive.
Among the collections currently being catalogued are records from two institutions which shed light on local life in centuries past: the Cork Butter Market and the City of Cork Steam Packet Company,
Staff are constantly accepting donations and loans of items.