By Peter Stapleton, PhD Candidate with Department of History
I recently carried out a four-day research trip to the Cardinal O Fiaich Memorial Library in Armagh. My aim on this trip was to examine the papers of Cardinal O Fiaich, Fr. Denis Faul and Fr. Raymond Murray.
My research is focussed on the involvement of the Catholic Church clergy and hierarchy in several key issues that arose during the conflict in Northern Ireland, between 1968 and 1985. These issues include internment and the treatment of internees, the prison protests and hunger strikes, correspondence between Catholic clergy and British and Northern Irish governments and the involvement of Irish-American Catholic groups and clergy.
Due to my research area, it was imperative to consult the Cardinal O Fiaich papers due to his involvement in these issues, particularly the prison protests and hunger strikes in the H-Blocks. My visit focussed on the correspondence records with various relevant bodies (clergy members from other Churches, political figures etc.), press clippings concerning significant events and personal papers regarding issues relevant to the aforementioned issues.
The Cardinal O Fiaich Memorial library also holds the papers of Fr. Faul and Fr. Murray who were heavily involved in reporting the treatment of internees and the treatment of Catholics under internment and campaigned on the behalf of the protesting prisoners who were pushing for political status in the H-Blocks. Alongside these collections, the library holds a limited amount of material from the Cardinal William Conway papers regarding internment which provided a notable amount of material relevant to my research. I was able to consult the papers of Fr. Denis Faul in detail.
These papers offered a significant amount of material regarding internment and the hunger strikes. This material ranged from statements and press releases from Fr. Faul and his personal correspondence with prisoners and British and Northern Irish politicians. The Fr. Raymond Murray collection had similar material however due to the length of the trip I was not able to consult these papers in detail.
I would like to thank the Department of History and Faculty of AHSS for the financial support which made this vital research trip possible. The material gathered will prove to be an integral part of my thesis.