Anne Ferris TD today raised the closure of Wicklow’s only public local history service at Ballywaltrim Library in the Dail, and received a firm commitment from Minister Phil Hogan that he would address the staffing issue behind the service closure as quickly as possible.
“In a week when Dublin City Council drew a firm dividing line between the people of Dublin – and the people from mainly outside Dublin who had bought tickets to a concert in Croke Park – let us be very careful about creating a wider cultural divide between Dublin and the rest of the country.”
She raised the issue of the closure of the local history service in County Wicklow at the beginning of a long period of centenary commemorations. “Historical research is the cornerstone of everything that this country wishes to portray during the period of centenary commemorations that has already started and which will continue to 1922. Local historical research is the aspect of historical study that links today’s communities with the lives of their ancestors. Validating those links is the work of professional historians, genealogists and librarians.”
Deputy Ferris reminded Minister Hogan of the images of US First Lady, Michelle Obama and her daughters visiting Glendalough that were beamed across continents and deemed to be a tourism success.
“Let us not forget that their visit began in the world famous Trinity College Library at the end of this very street where they were guided through their Irish heritage by historians, genealogists and librarians. Let’s face it. The Obamas were lucky to have access to a Dublin library.”
Minister for Environment, Community and Local Government, Phil Hogan, confirmed that his Department is considering a request from Wicklow County Council to sanction sufficient staff for the Wicklow library service to enable the local history studies section to be reopened. The Minister acknowledged the national importance of the various centenary commemorations and committed to finding a resolution quickly.
He told Deputy Ferris, “I will make enquiries at the conclusion of this debate to make sure that there is no time lost in order to ensure the restoration of Ballywaltrim history service.”