The minute books of Kildare County Council from 1899-1939 have been digitised and are now available on the new Kildare Library Service website at www.kildare.ie/Library to coincide with Explore Your Archive 2021, an annual campaign that showcases the best of archives and archive services in Ireland and the UK.
‘The members and electors of the first Kildare County Council of 1899 were confidently preparing for a Home Rule Ireland, securely within the British Empire, and with a Parliament in College Green. A quarter of a century later, the Ireland they lived in was entirely different from what they had looked forward to. This is the story of how the council conducted local government in Kildare, from the peaceful revolution at its beginning, through the trauma of the Great War, the Easter Rising and the subsequent conflict and civil strife, to emerge in a partitioned Ireland in the 1920s which they had never envisaged.’ – Dr Thomas Nelson
A peaceful revolution took place in Ireland in 1899 as the Grand Jury system ended. The Grand Juries were the earliest form of local government in Ireland, made up of Grand Jurors appointed by the Sheriff and usually the most prominent local landowners. They were initially concerned with the administration of justice. However, their role gradually expanded to include the provision of roads and bridges and the maintenance of dispensaries, county infirmaries, asylums, courthouses, and gaols. The Grand Jury was empowered to levy a tax in the county and met at Spring and Summer Assizes, where presentment works were passed. Under the Local Government Act of 1898, it was replaced by elected county councils, chosen by a more expansive franchise than ever before in any election in Ireland.
Kildare County Council met for the first time on 22 April 1899 in Naas Courthouse. The Leinster Leader commissioned portraits of the twenty-one newly elected councillors. The newly constituted Council also included the chairs of the five District Councils and three nominees from the defunct Grand Jury. The first meeting was seven hours long, as the new Council elected its first chair, Naas solicitor, Stephen J. Browne, and dealt with finance and personnel.
The minutes of the County Council and its various committees are available in this digitised collection from 1899 to 1939. They contain some volumes of handwritten minutes and rough minutes; the majority consists of printed minutes pasted onto pages and then bound in a book. Some of the minutes were published in a volume as a single year. Many of the bound volumes contain one or more years of minutes, and therefore there is some overlapping of months and years. There are also some gaps in the minutes where books have not survived. Researchers can now view, search, and download pdf formatted files of the minutes under Archives in the Local Studies, Genealogy and Archives section of the Kildare Library Service website at
Cllr. Pádraig McEvoy, Chair of the County Kildare Decade of Commemorations Committee, said “The members are delighted to see the County Council minute books being made available online to the public and researchers. Our commemorations officially began in Áras Chill Dara on 19 October 2015 with the launch of Dr Thomas Nelson’s book Through Peace and War. Kildare County Council in the years of revolution 1899-1926. This new project will enhance user access to this part of the county’s archives”.
The digitisation of the County Council minute books from the 1899-1939 period was supported by the County Kildare Decade of Commemorations Committee and the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media under the Decade of Centenaries 2012-2023 initiative.