Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland

PRONI Turns 100

PRONI, which now holds more than three million documents, was established on 22nd June 1923 with the passing of the Public Records Act (NI) 1923 and opened its doors to the public on 3rd March 1924.

A treasure trove of documents spanning more than 800 years has been unveiled to mark the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland’s centenary.

The 100 key records have been carefully collated to showcase Northern Ireland’s “historical, social and cultural” history, said Department for Communities Permanent Secretary Colum Boyle at a celebration event today – exactly 100 years after the establishment of PRONI on 22 June 1923.

Selected records include:

  • The oldest document currently held by PRONI – a Papal Bull by Pope Honorious III dating back to 1219
  • A lonely-hearts letter written to the Mayor of Belfast in 1935 from a Seattle man seeking a “colleen” for “matrimony…..knowing full well that the very best of people in the world come from the North of Ireland”
  • Notebooks and letters related to accounts of the Battle of the Boyne and the Easter Rising
  • Glens of Antrim song written in Irish from 1810 and a copy of Danny Boy Manuscript (1870 – 1914)
  • Correspondence from Wolfe Tone (1798)
  • Copy of Amy Carmichael’s Bible (1906)
  • Court cases including that of Sarah McAllister from Cushendall who was accused in 1892 of murdering a four-year-old child and making other children sick with sweets and sugar coated with arsenic.

The unveiling of PRONI’s 100 treasures will continue as a rolling programme across social media channels during the year.

Speaking at the ‘Celebrating a Century’ event, Colum Boyle, said:

“It is all too easy to think of archives as dusty inaccessible records languishing on shelves in darkened storerooms, but the work of PRONI clearly demonstrates the relevance and impact of archives in our society.”

PRONI’s Head of Conservation, Sarah Graham, has also curated an image gallery on Archbishop Swayne’s Register, which can be found on the site here.

Thursday, 22 June 2023, 6:17 PM

Jean-Philippe SanGiovanni