Limerick City and County Council has provided a new resource for historians and curious locals. Minutes of Council committee meetings from 1833 to 1969 have been digitised and placed online. The minutes record meetings of various special committees throughout the period and touch on a wide range of subjects, including housing, poverty and maintenance of public parks.
The Council has always had a number of special committees tasked with dealing with Limerick’s issues. These have included a Railway Committee, a Lunatic Asylum Committee, a Fire Brigade Committee and a City Distress Committee.
The digitised material consists of photographs taken of pages from the Council minute books.
Most of the minutes before 1923 are handwritten and difficult to decipher for those unfamiliar with handwriting from the period. After 1923, committee minutes were generally typed, making later minute books much more accessible. The minutes are often complex and detailed, containing letters sent to the Council, proposals from individual councillors and debates about the issues of the time.
The committee minutes shed light on Limerick’s history. Meetings from the 1930s show that concerns about unemployment and poor-quality housing were just as common then as they are today. Councillors have always discussed roads, public lighting and the negative effects of traffic.
There are some unusual and interesting entries in the minutes. In 1933, the Council had an Explosives Committee, which seems to have dealt primarily with storage of dangerous materials and fireworks. That same year, a Mr Boland of the Fire Brigade requested pants from the Council. He had not been supplied with new pants since 1928.
The minutes also show how the Council reacted to major events. On 11 February, 1936 the General Purposes Committee suspended its meeting in sympathy with then Taoiseach Éamon de Valera and his wife Sinéad, whose son Brian had died in a riding accident.
Though the records from the War of Independence and Civil War Era are difficult to understand in places, the Council’s response to the Second World War is very clear. On 6 August, 1940 the General Purposes committee discussed air raid preparations and the digging of shelters. France had surrendered to Nazi Germany on 22 June that year. The committee objected to the fact that men who had been injured while digging air raid shelters were denied unemployment benefit by the Labour Exchange.
The 29 minute books are available online at limerick.ie free of charge.