Explore Your Archive: Document of the Day

Some New Additions to Maynooth University Library’s Troubles Collection Northern Ireland 

by Dr Ruth O’Hara, Assistant Librarian, MU Library 

Since 2018, Maynooth University Library (MUL) has been actively growing a unique archive of material dedicated to the period commonly referred to as the Northern Ireland Troubles. Our ‘troubles’ collection contains a diverse mix of literature, political ephemera, journalism, and secondary source material dating from the 1970s up to and beyond the Good Friday Agreement. It is a remarkably comprehensive archive that represents and documents the various ‘sides’ of Northern Irish society, including marginal groups and those on the fringes within the various strands of unionism, republicanism and beyond, as well as the main political groups. 

Ulster Says No! Vote Paisley; Democratic Unionist – Ulster says No. Ulster Democratic Unionist Party: ephemera

Some recent additions to the collection provide further valuable insight into Northern Ireland’s complex journey to becoming a post-conflict society. Ephemera, like an election leaflet for Ian Paisley in the 1986 North Antrim by-election, or evocative advertisements in the Ulster Defence Association produced periodical Ulster are redolent reminders of the debates from the 1980s and 1990s that still have echoes in more recent political campaigns.

Ulster, July/August 1986
Sinn Féin (1995). Towards a lasting peace in Ireland. [Dublin]: Sinn Féin

A shift in the narrative in the 1990s is, however, evident in many of the pieces in this part of the archive. For example, there is a 1995 reprint of Sinn Féin’s Towards a Lasting Peace in Ireland, a document that has been described as a “watershed in the history” of the Republican movement.

We have also continued to add to the voices of those outside Northern Ireland which often provide an alternative view to events in the region. This pamphlet, edited by the Committee for Withdrawal from Ireland, and published in London, includes interviews with a British Labour MP, a Russian politician, as well as trade unionists from across the UK and Ireland.

Committee for Withdrawal from Ireland (1980). Ireland: Voices for Withdrawal.
London: Committee for Withdrawal from Ireland

However, it is the ephemera of everyday life contained in this archive that makes it such an important resource for researchers interested in understanding the impact of the ‘troubles’ on all aspects of Northern Irish society. Amongst many items, a door sign from the community-based project Cúnamh is a physical reminder of the ongoing toll political conflict can have. Cúnamh was established in 1997 and was funded by the Peace and Reconciliation Programme. Following the Saville Inquiry into the events surrounding Bloody Sunday, a counselling and support centre was established by Cúnamh at the request of the relatives of those killed and wounded in Derry in 1972.

Cúnamh. Bloody Sunday Counselling & Support Service: ephemera

These items provide a brief snapshot of MUL’s comprehensive and growing archive dedicated to the ‘troubles’ in Northern Ireland. For more information or to access this collection please contact library.specialcollections@mu.ie


McInnes, C and Kennedy-Pipe, C. (2001) “The British Army and the Peace Process in Ireland”. Journal of Conflict Studies, 21 (1). Available at: https://journals.lib.unb.ca/index.php/JCS/article/view/4291 (Accessed: 16 November 2022).

Cúnamh, Information Leaflet, [Derry]: Cúnamh: a lifeline for change.