AN ongoing project at the City Library in which historical obituaries are being put online is attracting interest from all over the world. Local studies librarian Mike Maguire said records from the Limerick Chronicle, the Limerick Leader’s sister paper, from 1860 to 1906 were currently available to view on the City Council website.
“It’s a labour-intensive project where we go through the records on microfilm and get them scanned to create a database. On the website now we have records from 1860 and we are moving backwards in time. We still have a lot to get through as the Chronicle goes back to the 1760s,” he said
“The obituaries are fascinating and they are of obvious interest for people researching family histories but there is also a lot of social history there. Only the very well-off would have put death notices in the paper so we are also putting up a lot of fascinating material from inquests. When you go through it, there were an awful lot of accidental deaths in the 1800s and you get the impression people were more careless. But the obituaries are proving hugely popular and we get hits from all over the world,” Mr Maguire said.
A cursory glance at 1862 suggests high child mortality rates. As well as scores of infants claimed by diseases such as TB and diphtheria, children are killed in mishaps ranging from house fires to accidentally drinking acid. Three teenage boys, including the son of Catherine Street butcher Michael Treacy and the son of Wickham Street cornbroker Patrick Dundon, were “suddenly precipitated into eternity” - as the Chronicle describes it - in a rafting accident at the City Gaol quarry, with the inquest jury recommending the police detect and punish those who were making the quarry a rendezvous point “by gambling on the sabbath”.
Uploading obituaries is part of a project at the library to put local records on-line.
“The whole idea is to make these materials accessible to people who, whether they are geographically removed or for some other reason, can’t come to the library themselves,” Mr Maguire said.
Also available online are certain stories from the Limerick Leader and periodicals such as the Old Limerick Journal. To explore the local riches, see Limerick City Library.