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Preface

Published online by Cambridge University Press:  05 August 2016

Peter Crooks
Affiliation:
Trinity College, Dublin
Timothy H. Parsons
Affiliation:
Washington University, St Louis
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Summary

On 30 June 1922, an explosion and fire destroyed the records treasury of the Public Record Office of Ireland (PROI), situated at the western end of the Four Courts complex that lies on the north quays of the River Liffey in Dublin. Established by an act of the Westminster parliament in 1867, the PROI was a state-of-the-art archival facility for the preservation of the public records and state papers of English government in Ireland. Its holdings stretched back some seven hundred years to the early decades of the thirteenth century, when Ireland first became a dominion of the English crown. Following the signing and ratification of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, control of the PROI was transferred to the provisional government of the southern twenty-six counties of Ireland on 1 April 1922. A fortnight later, on 14 April 1922, ‘irregular’ forces opposed to the treaty occupied the Four Courts, including the PROI buildings. After temporizing for more than two months, the Irish National Army began to bombard the Four Courts in the early morning of 28 June, employing eighteen-pounder guns borrowed from British forces. Ireland had slipped into a bitter civil war. The exact sequence of events that led to the catastrophic explosion remains contested. What is clear is that – despite the pleas of a few learned scholars with impeccable Irish nationalist credentials – neither pro- nor anti-treaty forces demonstrated much concern in practice for the safeguard of the accumulated records of English (later British) colonial rule in Ireland. The anti-treaty forces had heavily mined the records treasury. A double blast on 30 June 1922 caused a near-total archival cataclysm. The intense blaze that raged afterwards destroyed even those records stored in protective metal casings. As a report of the deputy keeper of the public records in Ireland later lamented: ‘The fire left little but tangled iron work, blocks of masonry, mason rubbish and the charred fragments and ashes of what had once been Public Records.’

Empires and Bureaucracy in World History finds its oblique beginnings in this post-colonial Irish bonfire.

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Empires and Bureaucracy in World History
From Late Antiquity to the Twentieth Century
, pp. xiii - xvi
Publisher: Cambridge University Press
Print publication year: 2016

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  • Preface
  • Edited by Peter Crooks, Trinity College, Dublin, Timothy H. Parsons, Washington University, St Louis
  • Book: Empires and Bureaucracy in World History
  • Online publication: 05 August 2016
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316694312.001
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  • Preface
  • Edited by Peter Crooks, Trinity College, Dublin, Timothy H. Parsons, Washington University, St Louis
  • Book: Empires and Bureaucracy in World History
  • Online publication: 05 August 2016
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316694312.001
Available formats
×

Save book to Google Drive

To save content items to your account, please confirm that you agree to abide by our usage policies. If this is the first time you use this feature, you will be asked to authorise Cambridge Core to connect with your account. Find out more about saving content to Google Drive.

  • Preface
  • Edited by Peter Crooks, Trinity College, Dublin, Timothy H. Parsons, Washington University, St Louis
  • Book: Empires and Bureaucracy in World History
  • Online publication: 05 August 2016
  • Chapter DOI: https://doi.org/10.1017/CBO9781316694312.001
Available formats
×