Clericus: A View of 225 Years of Students

By Sarah Larkin, Archivist, St Patrick’s College Maynooth

As the year of St Patrick’s College’s 225th Anniversary draws to a close, this blog post looks at a new resource which brings this long history to life. Clericus is an online database with vast potential for both academic and family historians alike to research the Irish clerical population.

The first phase of the Clericus project was financed by St Patrick’s College, Maynooth, as part of their 225th Anniversary celebrations. This phase involved the digitisation of 124 student classpieces, dating from 1861 to 2018. The classpieces include individual photographs of students/priests ordained from Maynooth. On Clericus, the photos are supplemented with biographical data from college student lists, including information for those who entered Maynooth but for whom no record of ordination exists. All of this data provides over 20,000 individual biographical entries.

Clericus makes identifying individuals from class pieces much easier. The image below shows the 1887-1888 class piece on the Clericus website. Many of the individual portraits are faded with age, and the names printed underneath quite small and difficult to read. It can be hard to distinguish individuals by looking at the class piece, but Clericus identifies each person depicted in the poster:

Holding the mouse over an individual portrait shows name and details, in this case Daniel Mannix. Under his name are two dioceses with which he is affiliated: he is from the Diocese of Cloyne and went on to be the Archbishop of Melbourne for 46 years. Clicking on Daniel Mannix will bring you to his person profile page, showing all associated details on Clericus:

On this page we can learn quite a bit of information about Dr Mannix, such as his name in Irish which he appeared under in one of the classpieces, the year he was ordained, and the classpieces he appeared on. Each of these pieces of information links Dr Mannix to the respective classpieces or events. At the bottom of this page, this information can be viewed as a ‘Network graph,’ presented as a visualisation of Dr Mannix’s data:

Dr Mannix is just one example of how the vast information available on Clericus can be used. As the project progresses, more data will be added to the database. It will no doubt prove to be an invaluable source for those academic, local, and family historians. Clericus can be viewed online here.

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