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Monday, November 7, 2011

The Irish Uprising: Obtaining the Records

No one in Ireland wears a watch. No places in Ireland have wall clocks. And no one seems overly concerned with the time. Once in Ireland, you're on "Irish Time."  From The life of {Kerin} Riley

I would sometimes see the expression “Irish Time” when researching my husband’s Irish ancestors. The term usually referred to the rather slow acquisition of records from Ireland.  I have only requested one set of records from Ireland and this is my story about “Irish Time” and one very thoughtful archivist.  

William Quinn II
William Joseph Quinn II, my husband’s grandfather, participated in the Irish Uprising.  His son and my father-in-law, William Joseph Quinn III, often said that his father spent time in the finest jails in England.  During a visit to County Galway in 1981, Michael Fahey, an old friend of William II, told of William II’s service in the old IRA, his arrest in 1916, and of the burning of the Quinn home in 1921.

In 1998, my father-in-law showed me some of his mother’s IRA pension statements and letters. He asked me to find out about his father’s service in the old IRA. I wrote a letter and a few months later I received a reply that the records would be sent to me as soon as they were found. During the next few years, I received similar letters.  

My father –in-law, William Joseph Quinn III passed away in 2005. A year later, soon after moving into our new home, I read that Irish military records had been moved to a new building in Ireland.  Knowing that letters would no longer be forwarded from the old address, I again requested the record; this time using my husband’s name, William IV, as the person requesting.  Bill soon received a letter acknowledging the request and stating that when the information was found, the records would be sent.  We found this amusing, but rather nice, for in the U.S., if the record was not found on the first attempt, we would have received a letter stating just that and there would have been no further correspondence.   

In February 2007, Bill received a copy of the pension record. Almost exactly one year later, in 2008, he received another copy accompanied by a letter referring to my original request in 1998 and stating that my address was no longer current. The sender assumed that we were related and requested that he give me the copy.  Thank you, M. Kilcommins.   

The records contain some very interesting stories and family information that I will post on this blog.

I obtained these records from the Irish Defence Forces Military Archives in Dublin, Ireland. The archive contains the Military Service Pensions Collection, records from the Bureau of Military History (1913 – 1921), and many other off-line resources.

Next - The Irish Uprising: 1914 to 1915


© 2011, copyright Diana Quinn

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