Library’s new digital archive is a treasure trove of Kilkenny memories

Old pictures and postcards of the county and its people dating back more than a century safeguarded for future generations

Sam Matthews


Sam Matthews



After the flood: Thomastown Bridge, 1947. This picture was contributed by Joe Dunphy. All of these pictures are accessible via Kilkenny Digital Archive

A valuable collection of images and memorabilia from historic Kilkenny has been unveiled as part of a new digital archive hosted by Kilkenny Library Services.

Old pictures and postcards of the county and its people dating back more than a century have now been safeguarded and preserved for future generations, accessible to all online.

At the recent October meeting of Kilkenny County Council, County Librarian Josephine Coyne said that the library service had acquired the unique collection and was trying to engage a new audience with it. She said it was ‘very much a collaborative approach with the IT section’.

It began as a community engagement project in Graignamanagh Library, where people were asked to bring in their old pictures and photographs from the Graig-Tinnahinch area.

“They would bring them in to the library and they would be uploaded to the site,” said Ms Coyne.

Ms Coyne said the idea had a lot of potential, and the library now had a platform that was accessible to everyone. She said it was a model of community and user engagement.

“People trust the library service and are happy to give [the material] to us,” she said.

“It fulfils our role as the guardians of community memory.”

The wonderful shot of Thomastown after the flood in 1947 (above) was brought into the library service by Joe Dunphy, the former principal in Ballyhale National School.

Cathaoirleach Eamon Aylward said the project looked very interesting, and complimented the library staff on their work. Cllr Malcolm Noonan said he particularly liked Ms Coyne’s expression ‘the guardians of community memory’. He wondered about the possibility of collaborating with the Kilkenny Archives. He said the council supported it somewhat, but the work was becoming more of a burden as more material came in. He also asked about the potential of audio/visual collections.

A trip to the creamery: Jim and Lawrence Butler from Tinnahinch Lock House  

Cllr Peter ‘Chap’ Cleere asked about genealogy.

“There’s huge interest there at the moment in terms of family history — have we looked at doing anything in terms of making that easier?” he asked.

Ms Coyne said that there was an ‘informal’ genealogy service, while there is a paid-for service in Rothe House. She said the library certainly received a lot of queries relating to genealogy.

She also said she thought there was potential to work together with Kilkenny Archives, and it was a conversation that could happen. The concept also has potential to expand in the coming months. Ms Coyne says that next year, the library service is hoping to look at old county match programmes.

The archive is available for viewing here.