The Ronnie Matthews Archive Collection


Laois County Library Service is delighted to continue work is commencing on the conservation and archiving of the Ronnie Mathews Archive Collection. The collection, acquired in 2021 by Laois County Council, was compiled by the late Ronnie Mathews, a well-known and highly respected local historian and author from Portarlington. The collection contains records and artefacts relating to the history of Portarlington and environs including maps, photographs, business records and much more. It reflects the original collector’s knowledge and passion for local history, from the earliest times to recent years.

Among the interesting artefacts are a series of glass plate negatives 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. Materials also include a map of Patrick Street dated 1889 and a large collection of postcards by Wynne of Portarlington -showing Portlaoise (formerly known as Maryborough), Mountmellick, Monasterevin and more.

By processing the collection to the highest archival standards, Laois County Library Service ensures that this remarkable local collection can be accessed by this generation and preserved for the generations to come

With items from the Ronnie Mathews Collection at Bloom HQ Mountrath, from left: Orla Connaughton, Archivist; Catherine Casey, Laois Heritage Officer; Bernie Foran, Laois County Librarian; Tim Mathews, son of Ronnie Mathews; Dom Reddin, LCC Tourism Officer and Sinead Holland, LCC Librarian Local Studies. The project is supported by Creative Ireland Laois as part of the Creative Ireland Programme (2017-2022) in partnership with Laois County Council.
Picture: Alf Harvey.