The Strokestown Park House Archive is one of the most important and extensive nineteenth-century estate collections in Ireland comprising over 40,000 documents, including rentals, accounts, correspondence, maps and plans, property deeds, rent books, labour returns, pamphlets, press cuttings and even photographs. Of particular importance are the papers relating to the Great Famine of Ireland, 1845-51. Given the paucity of Famine records in a great many other estate collections, the Strokestown Archive has thus an added significance because of the microcosmic insight it offers into the Famine at local level. It is through the study of such local estates that a greater understanding of how the Famine of Ireland unfolded and impacted upon communities can be fully understood.
The archive also contains a significant collection of documents pertaining to the twentieth century, especially in relation to the establishment of the National Famine Museum, believed to be the only national famine museum of its type in existence in the world. It is this juxtaposition of country house in a state of arrested decay and the Famine Museum that has led Professor Christopher Ridgway, Curator of Castle Howard in England, to pronounce that ‘Strokestown has the potential to become the most exciting house in Ireland’ (Terence Dooley and Christopher Ridgway (eds.), The Irish country house: its past, present and future (2011) )
Since 2008 the archive has been on loan to the OPW-NUI Maynooth Archive and Research Centre at Castletown in County Kildare which was officially launched that year by President Mary McAleese. The Centre, which was established to facilitate the care and study of archives relating to the history of Irish estates, their houses and inhabitants, has been conserving and cataloguing the collection with the view to making it accessible to the public in the future.
In 2010, NUI Maynooth appointed Ciarán Reilly as a Research Fellow attached to the Centre for the Study of Historic Irish Houses and Estates to carry out an in-depth analysis of the papers, with particular reference to the Famine period, with a view to future publications, the organisation of Famine exhibitions, lectures and seminars and to identify documents that may be digitised and made available electronically to a much wider audience.HHH
Selected documents from the archive(Currently on display in the Famine Museum) are made available here: