The town of Carlow, county seat of County Carlow, Ireland, easily blends a rich and very old history with the modern trappings of the twenty-first century. An excellent example of this blending of old and new is the Carlow Central Library which is located in the center of the town on bustling Tullow Street. The library is housed in a building built in the late nineteenth-century.
On the second floor of the library is the Carlow County Archives. While the archives does not reflect the modernity of the library on the main floor, the collection is a genealogical treasure trove. It includes both private and public papers, as well as a large photographic collection and newspapers (in hard copy and microfilm) from 1767 through 2011.
Among the private papers available for research are The Papers of the Burton Family of Burton Hall and Pollacton House. The collection, on permanent loan to the library, includes estate papers, wills, and legal papers from the early eighteenth to the twentieth century. Other, smaller, family collections include the Bagnall/Bagenall, Baggott, Browne-Clayton, and Vigors. Some collections are better than others. The Browne-Clayton papers for example include deeds, leases and other legal papers between members of the family and propertied nobility like the Duke of Ormond and Earl of Thomond.
Of even greater potential genealogical benefit are some of the papers produced on the public side. First and foremost are the Poor Law Union Minute Books for the Carlow Poor Law Union. There are approximately 130 volumes that range from 1845-1923. The minutes include the business of the workhouse, number of inmates, amount of food and other information of that nature, as well as the names and dates of births, marriages, deaths that happened in the workhouse and other information helpful to those searching their family history.
Among some of the other records available are the Carlow Grand Jury records, 1852-1895; indexes to Parish Baptisms and Marriages for Roman Catholic Parishes in County Carlow; Labourers’ Cottages ledgers, rentals and maps up to at least 1958, Tithe Applotment Books, ca. 1857; and Valuation Maps (26 sheets).
Unfortunately, these records are not available in digital form and the archives is understaffed and overworked. Nevertheless, if you have County Carlow ancestors and are planning a trip to Ireland, Carlow County Archives and its local history collection is worth visiting.