A collection of previously unseen archival material relating to more than 60 families and landed estates in County Clare, from the early 1600s to the mid-1900s, is set to go on display in Ennis for the first time.

The McMahon Archival Collection is one of the largest collections of primary source documents in Clare County Council’s Archives’ repository, containing over 1,100 files spanning over three centuries. While the earliest document dates back to 1611, most of the material relates to 18th and 19th century administration and activities of the landed estates in County Clare.

The dominant landed families within the McMahon Archival Collection include the Burtons of Carrigaholt, Rovigo and Stamer families of Ennis and Carnelly, the Barclays of Ballyartney, near Labasheeda and the Burtons of Corofin.

Sixty other Clare family names, mainly the 19th and 20th century, have records within the McMahon Archival Collection. The estate records include; correspondence, deeds, leases, rental accounts listing; names of tenants, denominations of their holdings and amount of rents they paid; leases, grants, marriage settlements and, wills.

Among the other items of interest going on public display at Clare Museum, which continues until the end of September, are documents relating to the East Clare Election of 1917 which saw Eamon de Valera elected as an MP for East Clare following the death of Major Willie Redmond in World War I.

"Clare County Council’s Archives’ Service is pleased to announce this fascinating exhibition, which will take place for the duration of Heritage Week and continue until September 25th," commented Rene Franklin, Clare County Archivist.

"It gives a fascinating insight to local history, genealogy, land acquisition and social history between the 17th and 20th centuries and is an invaluable resource of primary source material," added Ms. Franklin.

She continued, "The exhibition concentrates upon the Burton family of Carrigaholt, Rovigo and Stamer families of Ennis and Carnelly, Barclays of Ballyartney, near Labasheeda, the Burtons of Corofin and the land agent Marcus Keane of Beechpark, known as the Exterminator General of Clare for his role in mass evictions. Documents from the McMahon Archival collection will be on display in Clare Museum giving the public a taste of the archival source material within the collection."

"Additionally the collection contains documents relating to the East Clare Election of 1917, due to the fact that Michael McMahon was also Clerk to the Presiding Officer at Ennis Courthouse during the East Clare Election of 1917," concluded Ms. Franklin.

The McMahon Archival Collection was donated to the National Archives in the 1970s through the Business Records Survey by Dermot McMahon of Sherry Fitzgerald McMahon, O’Connell Square in Ennis. The collection was subsequently reaccessioned by Clare County Council’s Archives’ Service in 2010.

The Collection had been, before its acquisition by the National Archives, stored in the basement of offices in a three story building in the center of Ennis, where Michael McMahon (Dermot McMahon’s grandfather) operated an auctioneering and estate agency business from the late 1800s.

According to Mr. McMahon, "It is especially gratifying that this collection is now available for current and future generations of Clare people, through Clare County Archives’ Service, headed by Rene Franklin. The landed estates were at the center of rural Ireland’s economy in the mid to late 19th century at a time of huge economic difficulty that affected none more than the tenants who cruelly struggled to meet their rents and even to survive."

"It is the first time we get a real sense of what these primary source documents contain, their historical value but most of all the human stories within them,’ said Anne Jones, who co-authored a publication with archivist Rene Franklin, in conjunction with the Exhibition at Clare Museum.

The McMahon Archival Exhibition will be available for public viewing until the 25th September in Clare Museum, Ennis (Mon-Sat 9.30am-1pm, 2pm,-5.30pm) The collection’s descriptive list will be accessible through Clare County Council’s Archives.