Irish Fish Merchant Preserved Thousands of Irish Public Records

The New York Times did a wonderful job of weaving stories about Ireland into its pre-St. Patrick's day coverage.  For a great example, see this story on snakes in Ireland, the Celtic tiger economy and St. Patrick. For something a little closer to home for this blog, read this story about Jackie Clarke, a fish merchant in Ballina (County Mayo) Ireland who collected over 100,000 items related to the Irish struggle for independence.  Among the items: an original copy of the 1916 Easter Proclamation.

As Clarke's work shows, private collections are a useful, if somewhat offbeat, resource for records.  Often these collections have name or subject searchable finding tools and contain files about people the donor collector came into contact with or employed at some point in the past.  Of particular interest for opposition researchers:  the public papers of retired elected officials.