Recent activities at Donegal County Archives


Donegal County Archives Service, the County Library, County Museum and Donegal District Registry of Births, Deaths and Marriages all came together for the festival of Bealtaine in Central Library, Letterkenny, on four successive Wednesdays to assist people in researching their family roots.

Staff members from all the Services were available in the library each Wednesday morning to assist people in their research. Samples from various collections of the Archives, Library and District Registry were on display, including valuation registers, electoral records, maps, rentals, and birth, marriage and death registers. Also available ere guides, books and leaflets. Online resources were made accessible, including the 1911 census and Griffith’s Valuation. Individuals and local history groups flocked to the library each Wednesday morning, and many were delighted to discover that in spite of the loss of so much of our recorded heritage over the last century, much has nonetheless survived. Many more were happy to learn how to commence the daunting task of delving into their ancestry.

Staff from the District Registry drew up the family trees of local celebrities, Seán Doherty from Highland Radio, and Altan’s Mairéad Ní Mhaonaigh, Donegal Person of the Year, and displayed them at the library during the event. Who do you think you are, Donegal was a resounding success and it is hoped that similar sessions will take place in other parts of the county again soon.


Also for Bealtaine Archives and Museum staff visited local people attending day centres across the county. Archives on display included school registers, valuation records from their area, plans of labourers’ cottages, and photos of towns, villages and railways. Artefacts from the County Museum included a World War II ration book and helmet, an old lighthouse bulb, a pair of bloomers, a piece of Killybegs carpet, postcards, and a spinning top. These reminiscence sessions are a long established and greatly successful part of Cultural Services’ Bealtaine festival, inspiring in older people often forgotten memories and nostalgia for a bygone era. It is a wonderful way of bringing archives and artefacts to people in all parts of the county who might never otherwise have an opportunity to view them in their permanent locations in Lifford and Letterkenny.

Members of the Raphoe Friday Club look through archives, Volt
House, 14th May 2010


Acquisitions in the Archives

Recent acquisitions in Donegal County Archives include a beautiful book of maps of the townlands of Letterkenny, undated but probably from the mid nineteenth century. The delicately illustrated maps are from the estate of Colonel Henry Vaughan Brooke and feature the names of tenants who rented parcels of land across several townlands.


Extract from Col Henry Brook book of Letterkenny maps/rental. C. 1850.

Another exciting acquisition in the Archives is a number of early electoral registers from 1889 and 1902. The 1902 registers are of particular interest as they include the names of women householders who were first entitled to vote in local government elections under the 1898 Local Government Act. One of the 1889 Dunfanaghy supplemental registers carries the name of Father James McFadden, the famous (or infamous) priest who was accused in that same year of the murder of Inspector William Martin during a riot in the village. He was later acquitted of the murder.


For more information contact:
Niamh Brennan
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074 91 72490

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