Pat Purcell, Carlow

Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Pat Purcell

Source: Michael Purcell (Nephew)



Pat Purcell died two weeks after the following article was published in the Nationalist and Leinster Times.


'Old Pat prepares to call it a day'

One of Carlow's oldest residents, 99 year old Mr. Pat Purcell, Quinagh, has "retired" as an historian and has handed over his vast collection of historical papers to his nephew, Mr. Michael Purcell.

Part of the collection, which was complied in 1890 by the late Michael Brophy, a correspondent with The Nationalist and noted local historian, features documents relating to the history of Carlow from the 17 th Century onwards.

Following Mr. Brophy's death in 1900, his collection was passed to the late Marlborough Douglas who was also engaged in historical research at the turn of the century.

Following the death of Mr. Douglas in 1923, the collection passed to the late William Hadden and, in 1940 Mr. Hadden gave it to Mr. Purcell.

The collection was further added to when Mr. Purcell acquired the Edwin Boake research papers which included a personal record of Carlow from the late 1800s to the 1930s.

Mr. Purcell, a veteran of the War of Independence, having joined the Irish Republician Brotherhood in 1915, was sworn in by Bulmer Hobson. He maintained a strong interest in the history of his town and county throughout his life.

Apart from collecting many important documents relating to the county, he also acquired many rare artefacts now on loan to the Carlow Museum.

These include such items as an old rope made from grass in the 1700s, bar fittings from former licensed premises in Carlow, kitchen furniture, tools, farm implements etc.

Collector of documents

From 10 years of age Mr. Purcell has been a collector of historical documents and bric-a-brac. But now, after 89 years, he believes it is time to hand over his collection to younger people.

His nephew, Michael Purcell, Kennedy Street, a founder member of the County Carlow Heritage Society, is also the owner of an extensive collection of rare papers, photographs and artefacts relating to Carlow and its immediate environs.

"With this additional collection, I now hope to have all the information catalogued so that it can be viewed by historians, and researchers said Mr. Purcell.

However, he emphasised for historians to fully avail of all the information now on record relating to Carlow, it is vital that a proper heritage centre and research facility be provided.

"We are now one of the few counties in Ireland not to have either a genealogical or heritage centre and I think it is a shame that the local authority is letting this opportunity slip through its fingers.

"It is a recognised fact that one of the fastest growing areas in tourism is in historical research. There are 40 million US citizens who claim to have Irish ancestry.

"More and more of these people are now travelling to Ireland to trace their roots but Carlow is being forgotten about simply because we don't have the facilities to cater for them," Mr. Michael Purcell stressed.

In the 1950s Mr. Purcell made his collection available to the late Victor Hadden who was then compiling research for a publication on Carlow. Unpublished works by Mr. Hadden, entitled The Castles of Co. Carlow is due to appear in November.

The late Mr. Hadden was well known for his detailed research on topics relating to Carlow and the publication of his works is anxiously awaited by historians both locally and nationally.


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