As this year’s Irish Festival Week draws to a close in Liverpool, there have been various events commemorating 25 years since the signing of the Good Friday Agreement, otherwise known as the Belfast Agreement. This agreement put an end to years of violence and conflict between Britain, Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. It is events of historical significance like this that it is important we preserve for future consultation and reflection. Here at the University of Liverpool Special Collections and Archives, this is what we are aiming to achieve with the cataloguing and project surrounding the Mac Lua Library Archive.
The collection, transferred to Special Collections and Archives from the Institute of Irish Studies, is a treasure trove of material from the time leading up to, and the years following, the Good Friday Agreement. One example of these treasures are the many Peace Process Files created by the Irish Human rights watch. These important folders contain papers documenting the talks and discussions surrounding the agreement, as well as its impact on Anglo-Irish relations.
We also hold a complete run of the Irish Post Newspaper from 1970 – 2008, including those years surrounding the Good Friday agreement. These papers serve as an excellent resource for study of how the press reacted to the negotiations, as well as the public vote in favour of the agreement. Another added layer of interest here, is that the Irish Post was published as a newspaper for Irish People living globally, and so there is a wealth of research potential regarding comparisons between the Post and exclusively Ireland distributed newspapers. We are currently exploring options to digitise the Irish Post for researchers to consult online and so this will hopefully be a particularly exciting resource for users within the coming months.
Another amazing resource for research into the Good Friday Agreement are the Papers of Lord Hylton, who’s work around the rights and release of the Irish Prisoners in England was continuous and well documented; in letters to prisoners and family, in correspondence with parliament regarding release dates, and in the campaign for general treatment of prisoners during the Peace Process.
Many of the collections within the Mac Lua Library Archive house materials related to the Troubles or the Good Friday Agreement because of the large cultural significance it had on the People of Ireland. Part of our jobs as Special Collections Librarians and Archivists is to preserve this history and these important documents for generations to come so that the struggle that people went through to obtain peace is never forgotten.
The collection is currently being catalogued and once complete and in keeping with Data Protection and GDPR, will be available for consultation and research at Special Collection and Archives in the Sydney Jones Library. The Institute of Irish Studies are planning to have a launch event for the Collection, along with various other events, within early Spring of 2024, but we welcome any enquiries before this date and will keep people updated with news. Any enquiries regarding the Mac Lua Library Archive can be directed to the Special Collections and Archives team at email@example.com.
The Mac Lua Library Project is funded by Archives Revealed and developed in partnership with The Liverpool Irish Centre, The Irish Post, The Irish Consulate in Britain and the Liverpool Irish Festival. The aims of this project are to make more widely accessible the history of Ireland and Britain’s recent past for a more inclusive and diverse audience.