20 November 2012: NUI Maynooth is calling on local historians, genealogy groups and amateur sleuths to get involved in a nationwide campaign to unlock the stories behind a pre-Famine historical manuscript. The ‘Morpeth Roll’ is a unique testimonial document signed by over 275,000 people across Ireland in 1841, on the departure of George Howard, Lord Morpeth, from the office of Chief Secretary for Ireland.
The Morpeth Roll campaign is a collaborative effort between NUI Maynooth, Castle Howard in Yorkshire, Ancestry and the Office of Public Works, to trace the stories of the Roll’s signatories – Who signed it? Did they remain in Ireland through the Famine? Did they emigrate to the US or the UK? What did they achieve in their lifetime? The campaign is recruiting historians, librarians, heritage officers, genealogists, and all with an interest in studying and researching Irish history and emigration. The Roll, essentially a pre-Famine census, is currently being digitised to facilitate online searches for ancestors or family names. Some well-known figures who signed the Roll included Daniel O’ Connell, Thomas Davis and Charles Gavan Duffy.
To launch the campaign, NUI Maynooth is hosting a conference ‘The Gathering: Local History, Heritage and Diaspora’, which is providing information on the Morpeth Roll and how interested parties can become involved and research their local signatories. The event will also explore the global Irish family and highlight best-practice techniques in researching and contacting Irish diaspora, of particular interest to communities and groups organising events for The Gathering.
Discussing the Morpeth Roll campaign, Dr Terry Dooley, Department of History, NUI Maynooth said: “The Morpeth Roll has significant research potential, whether examined as a pre-Famine census substitute, a genealogy resource, a family heirloom or a politically motivated document. Our campaign will unlock the stories of the signatories and what happened to them through, and after, the Famine. The research has the potential to provide a unique insight into Irish life, society and politics in pre-Famine Ireland and we are calling on historians, local genealogists and libraries to get involved in researching those from their locality who have signed the Morpeth Roll. Visitors to Ireland as part of The Gathering can view the Roll next year at NUI Maynooth to trace the signature of their ancestors and we should be able to offer them an insight into the life stories of their relatives.
“The Gathering is bringing a concerted effort from communities across Ireland to reach out to our diaspora across the world. Our conference will offer some practical advice and best-practice guidance about how to research and make contact with our global Irish communities and descendants. NUI Maynooth is dedicated to the sharing of research outputs and knowledge, to make a meaningful contribution to The Gathering. In that context, we believe that we have something significant and original to offer in terms of sharing advice and expertise in the areas of diaspora and family history.”
The Morpeth Roll will be launched at NUI Maynooth in March 2013 and will tour the country visiting locations such as Farmleigh, Derrynane, Kilkenny, Clonmel and Belfast, before returning to NUI Maynooth where it will remain on public view.
The Gathering: Local History, Heritage and Diaspora will be addressed by genealogy specialists discussing their work, highlighting the sources that they utilise, detailing the research resources available and discussing what can be derived from various channels. Organised by the Department of History, NUI Maynooth, the event will feature talks by Tim O’Connor, Chairman, Board of The Gathering, Niall Burgess, Department of Foreign Affairs and Professor Marian Lyons, Department of History, NUI Maynooth.
The conference will take place at Renehan Hall, NUI Maynooth on Saturday 24th November (9.30am-4.00pm). To register and for further information, contact the History Department, NUI Maynooth log on to www.nuim.ie/academic/history Tel. 01-7083729 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
For further information contact: Communications Office 01-7086160
Audrey Kinch, of the Russell Library examines the Morpeth Roll.