Pat Purcell died two weeks after the following
article was published in the Nationalist and Leinster Times.
'Old Pat prepares to call it
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
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 Purcell has been a collector of historical
documents and bric-a-brac.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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PAT PURCELL LAID TO REST
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