The Ronnie Mathews Collection
The archive collection of Portarlington historian Ronnie Mathews was acquired by Laois County Council in 2021. Ronnie 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.
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. 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. 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. The acquisition of the Mathews Archive follows the announcement of funding through the Rural Regeneration and Development Fund for conservation and regeneration of the historic Market Square in Portarlington, with plans for the conservation and reuse of the Market House in the square, which has been leased by Laois County Council.
Creative Ireland Laois Support
The material will now be carefully archived and catalogued by the Laois County Library Service, and arrangements made for any necessary conservation. Funding has been made available through the Creative Ireland Programme (2017-2022) for essential archiving and cataloguing work, as we prepare the material to be made available for research and for future display.
It will be a wonderful resource for researchers and a great way to honour the memory of Ronnie Mathews.
Any enquiries about the collection should be directed to firstname.lastname@example.org