The archive collection of Portarlington historian Ronnie Mathews has been acquired by Laois County Council for the people of the county. Mathews, a well-known historian and author of several books on Portarlington, had collected documents, maps and artefacts relating to the town over his whole life, and the collection also includes some items collected by his father Jack Mathews Snr and grandfather George Mathews. The Mathews family ran a bakery in Portarlington for many years, and the collection includes ledgers and account books from that business, which will shed a fascinating light on many aspects of life in Portarlington in the past.
The Collection is a perfect example of how cultural material can assist in developing and understanding our sense of place. The essential archiving and cataloguing work will be undertaken in 2021 and the material prepared to be made available for research and for future display.
Among the interesting artefacts are a series of glass negative photograph slides showing all aspects of Irish life dating from around 1910, a cannon ball reputed to be from the site of Lea Castle outside Portarlington, and a hand painted chess board with the crest of the Dawson family of Emo Court. The documents include a map of Patrick Street dated 1889 and a large collection of postcards by Wynne of Portarlington, also showing Maryborough, Mountmellick, Monasterevin and more.
Please note that the details of events listed above are provided by the relevant Local Authorities.