An Cosantóir

April 2012

An Cosantóir the official magazine of the Irish Defence Forces and Reserve Defence Forces.

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12 | tory in Maynooth, people want to research all sorts of topics, such as specific overseas units, for example." While we often have Military Archives credited in books and papers, its contribution often goes beyond the bookshelf. Readers may remember the story last year about the resurrec- tion of a WWII RAF Spitfire from a bog in Donegal. Archaeolo- gists found that aircraft through the Army's crash investiga- tion records in Military Archives. "As well as producing historical publications," Capt MacEoin told us, "we also give heritage advice and material to the various barracks museums. For example, in the new Curragh Museum we provided scanned photographs and documents for the display boards." The staff's passion for their job shines through clearly. To been dealing with a lot of inquiries regarding events that have just become eligible for release, such as overseas unit histories. At the moment the archivist are working on their 1982 files. "On release, Dept of Defence files go to the National Archives for a year and then come back to us," Lisa Dolan told us. "Any military and department records that are of a sensitive nature are referred to OiC Military Archives for advice on their release." "We get a huge range of inquiries," Lisa continued. "Some- times we simply may not have what someone is looking for and a good bit of our time is spent pointing the person in the right direction." A common query is from people looking for a relative's ser- vice records. However, firstly the person must be next-of-kin (a birth certificate may suffice as proof) and secondly the inquirer needs as much information as possible about their relative, such as name, number, unit, and date of birth. Due to the sheer volume of inquiries it generally takes eight weeks for the archi- vists to process such an inquiry. "From the foundations of the Defence Forces up to 1982 we have all PDF personnel records," Lisa explained. "After '82 you have to go to Enlisted Personnel Section and Officers Re- cords. For the Reserves we only have officers' records; enlisted reservists' records are kept in Area Records. Civilian employees' records are kept in the Dept of Defence." For anyone wishing to research a particular subject for them- selves the process is somewhat similar. "You need to write in or email in advance to specify what you are looking for so we can have it ready," Hugh Beckett explained. "Sometimes it may be a question of coming in and going through catalogues and then coming back a second day to do the reading. You have to make an appointment to come in and use the reading room." The staff can often predict material that needs to prioritised for use. For instance, in recent years there have been anni- versaries regarding the Congo, President Kennedy's visit, and the 80th anniversary of the Eucharistic Congress, all of which sparked interest. There are also areas always in demand. "We earmark key areas of interest," Lisa explained, "such as the War of Indepen- dence, the Civil War, the Emergency, and the UN. However, as universities add more courses, such as the MA in Military His- An Cosantóir April 2012 the layman some of their projects appear to consist simply of updating or digitalising the collection, but in opening up a box or a ledger they are literally transported back in time. Noelle is currently working on the Civil War period. "There are a number of different collections," she explained. "For example we have ledgers that list IRA soldiers interned in various locations around the country. To complement that we also have an index of all prisoners who fought on the anti-Trea- ty side, giving each prisoner's name, address, location of arrest, duration, and where he was interned. "On the National Army side we have operational and intel- ligence reports from the various commands, generally starting from December 1922. Some might simply say: 'Six men went on patrol, nothing to report,' or 'Raided three houses, found ten rifles.' "Even though our anti-Treaty records generally only come from prisoners you can still see they ran their organisation like any other army. So, from these records you learn that both sides were very well organised." Hugh is working on the department side of things from the same period. "I'm working on early Dept of Defence files called the 'A' files, which cover 1922-24," he told us. "It's not a complete collection as a lot of the early materials didn't survive. However, you get an overview of everything they were doing, from dealing with compensation claims from people whose property was raided by the National Army to files on the trans- portation of prisoners." "Military Archives has three main pillars," Capt MacEoin in- formed us: "historical, legal, and the requirement to satisfy the National Archives Act. Regarding the legal aspect, our records cover everything from incidents overseas to military police re- ports and these can be vital in a legal case. For instance, during the Callanan Report on 64 Inf Bn, Mr Frank Callanan SC came here to go through those records." It is important to understand that Military Archives is about more than just keeping records of 'interesting' events from the past. Capt MacEoin is anxious to stress the link between archives and proper records management. "Our archivists are trained to make judgement calls on the likely future historic value of the records they are working on," he explained. "Obvi-

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