Treasure trove of Old Kilkenny Review material to be made available online

‘Come with us’: An invitation from Kilkenny Archaeological Society


Picture of High Street from the Crawford Collection

Thanks to the work of a subcommittee in Kilkenny Archaeological Society, a treasure trove of local material is about to become accessible online.

The articles of the first two decades (1940s and ‘50s) of the Old Kilkenny Review will be uploaded onto the Kilkenny Archaeological Society website from Wednesday, January 27.

Over 100 articles from the society’s journal with a rich variety of topics about the city and county can be explored ranging from placenames to pre-historic cooking places. It’s a proud occasion for the society to share this material with people who are interested in Kilkenny both locally and worldwide.

The project is the culmination of months of dedicated work. Thanks to Anne-Karoline Distel’s technical expertise, a copy of each Old Kilkenny Review was taken apart; its pages were cut, trimmed, and fed into a duplex scanner. Further work was carried out on the digital images, including OCR (Optical Character Recognition) making all the articles searchable. Since last June, a team of volunteers has been reading articles every month and writing abstracts, which will also be uploaded, making the articles easier to find.

A description of a photographic survey carried out by Osbert Crawford during 1947 and written by world-renowned essayist, Hubert Butler was a particular favourite of volunteer Ann Tierney, President of Kilkenny Archaeological Society. It featured in the first Old Kilkenny Review in 1947.

“Just in three pages, Butler manages to tell us what he thinks about the value and importance of local initiatives to preserve the history and beauty of Kilkenny,”she observes.

She believes this article plus the detailed survey catalogue housed in Rothe House library could be a source of inspiration for people interested in history or photography. The photos can be viewed on the Kilkenny Archives website.

Mary Brennan, Hon Secretary is another volunteer. An article that impressed her from 1954 consisted of a deed between Patrick McLoughlin, Kilkenny clothier, and Edmund Lord Viscount Mountgarret of Ballyconra, drawn up in 1784. Here we gain insights into the Mountgarret Butlers and the system of land ownership at the time. Mary believes it also raises questions for researchers such as the fate of the forests described in the deed, the type of fruit trees planted, the functioning of the Court in Lisdowney and what became of the Ballyconra mills.

Volunteer Ann Murtagh has been collating the abstracts.

“There is a wealth of local history in these articles,” she said. “I particularly love the article about High Street (1954). It was like going on a walking tour led by the two authors, Margaret Phelan and Katherine Lanigan, who enthusiastically shared their knowledge of the generations of shop owners that occupied that street.”

John O’Leary — Olivia O’Leary’s grandfather and one of the society’s founders — wrote a welcoming letter in the first edition of the Old Kilkenny Review. He opened with the words ‘Come with us!’ The Kilkenny Archaeological Society echoes that sentiment today in their invitation to all to explore and enjoy the articles. For more, see

Catch up with the OKR online from January 27 and enjoy this treasure trove!

Buy the e-paper of the Donegal Democrat, Donegal People's Press, Donegal Post and Inish Times here for instant access to Donegal's premier news titles.

Keep up with the latest news from Donegal with our daily newsletter featuring the most important stories of the day delivered to your inbox every evening at 5pm.