Read messages from Kilmainham Gaol prisoners during 1916

A new website allows people to browse high quality images

Read messages from Kilmainham Gaol prisoners during 1916

Image: kilmainhamgaolautographbooks.ie

A unique collection of autograph books owned by prisoners during 1916 has been published online.

The Kilmainham Gaol Autographs website is one of the key 1916 Commemoration projects associated with the visitor site in Dublin, where the Rising Leaders were executed.

The new website allows people to browse high quality facsimile images taken from 13 of the books, which have a particular strong connection with the 1916 era.

Viewers can leaf through the pages individually and read directly from the signatures, mementoes and dedications.

The personal histories of some 480 individuals are explored, with links to other sources such as the Bureau of Military History - or the Census records from 1901 and 1911 - so that readers can trace their personal stories and subsequent history.

Image: kilmainhamgaolautographbooks.ie

Members of the public with family stories to tell or memorabilia from the era can also supply information through the site.

The website contains a specific link page to allow members of the public to contact staff with details.

"There is a wonderful opportunity to use this historic material as a spur to members of the public to come forward and share material of their own," said Niall Bergin, general manager of the Gaol Museum.

"We feel sure that there are many people whose antecedents were veterans or who were later involved in the Gaol restoration effort in the 1960's and may have valuable historic material such as photographs, letters, pension records etc, which will be a wonderful addition to the site and we would be delighted to meet with them and talk to them about what they have."

Image: kilmainhamgaolautographbooks.ie

The website was developed by the Office of Public Works Heritage Service at Kilmainham Gaol with assistance of their historical consultant, Professor Mike Cronin of Boston College, Dublin.

Minister of State with special responsibility for the Office of Public Works, Sean Canney welcomed the launch.

"At the Kilmainham Gaol Museum, we have a treasure trove of wonderful artefact material, including approximately 120 original Autograph Books from the 1916 - 23 period.

"These volumes contain the personal signatures and thoughts of many people who were involved in the struggle for national independence and who sacrificed much for their country.

"The new website which has been provided by the Office of Public Works Heritage Service is intended to showcase this collection and to, in a sense open a new page in the history of the Gaol, where members of the public can browse the Collection online and in turn share any material they might have themselves."