Newry.ie
Write a comment
Pin It

Born in Belfast in 1930, the son of a Presbyterian minister, Hugh Irvine came to Kilkeel in 1953 when he was appointed as a history teacher at the newly-opened Kilkeel High School. He became Vice-Principal of the school in 1962 and was Principal from 1987 until his retirement in 1993. After settling in Kilkeel, he developed a keen interest in the history, archaeology, architecture, genealogy and folklore of the area around Kilkeel, the Mourne Mountains and Rostrevor.

Hugh Irvine (1930 – 2009) played a significant and role in recording many aspects of the heritage of the Kilkeel and Mourne area. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Hugh Irvine (1930 – 2009) played a significant and role in recording many aspects of the heritage of the Kilkeel and Mourne area. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

Irvine recorded the results of his historical and genealogical research on an extensive series of index cards and built up a large photographic collection reflecting his interest in farming and rural life in the Mournes. Throughout his life, he also collected original historic documents including receipts from local shops, postcards, maps and newspaper cuttings. These were donated to the Museum by widow after his death in 2009 and now form The Hugh Irvine Collection. 

The Collection can be broadly divided into four categories: index cards relating to family and local history which are supplemented by various notebooks, transcripts and notes taken from source material in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI) and other locations, slides and postcards and original sources.

A member of Mourne Presbyterian Church, Hugh Irvine was invited to write a history of the church to celebrate its tercentenary in 1996. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
A member of Mourne Presbyterian Church, Hugh Irvine was invited to write a history of the church to celebrate its tercentenary in 1996. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

There are over one thousand genealogical index cards in the Collection which contain notes on a large number of families in the Kilkeel and Mournes area. The information on the cards mostly dates from the 18th century up to mid-20th century and is derived from a range of sources in PRONI including estate records, Board of Guardians minute books and valuation records. Details of property owned by individuals in each family is recorded including rents paid and sometimes their occupation and other pieces of miscellaneous information.

Taken in 1970, this photograph shows a farmhouse on the Valley Road in Ballymartin. Irvine used many of his slides in his history lessons at Kilkeel High School to instill an understanding of local heritage in his students. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Taken in 1970, this photograph shows a farmhouse on the Valley Road in Ballymartin. Irvine used many of his slides in his history lessons at Kilkeel High School to instill an understanding of local heritage in his students. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

 

The index cards relating to local history total about six hundred. These cover a broad range of topics relevant to agriculture, local business and commerce, buildings, churches, townlands, fishing and maritime history to name a few. A highly significant aspect of both the genealogical and local history cards is that Hugh Irvine carefully referenced the information on the cards with the original source from he drew the material. This makes these cards a very valuable research tool for family and local historians. 

Keen to preserve an interest in traditional crafts, Irvine took this photograph of a thatcher at work on a house on Greencastle Street in Kilkeel in 1968. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection
Keen to preserve an interest in traditional crafts, Irvine took this photograph of a thatcher at work on a house on Greencastle Street in Kilkeel in 1968. Newry and Mourne Museum Collection

A highly significant attribute of the Collection are the photographs and slides taken by Irvine in the 1960s and 1970s. These images form a valuable record of the vernacular architecture and the agricultural and industrial heritage of the Kilkeel and Mourne area. These are complemented by a collection of postcards, mostly from the first half of 20th century, which give an insight into Kilkeel, Rostrevor and Warrenpoint in this period. 

The Collection also contains transcripts of, and notes taken from, a range of source of material. One notable item in this material is a series of notes taken from the 19th century minute, account and report books of the Newry and Kilkeel Steamship Company which are in PRONI. Other important transcripts include extracts from the registers of Kilkeel Parish Church and Mourne Presbyterian Church.

A number of original documents are included in the Collection. One is a Poor Rate Collection Book which records poor rates paid by occupiers of property in the Mullartown division of the Kilkeel Poor Law Union in June 1854. Another is a sermon notebook, dating from the 1850s, which belonged to the Rev. Alexander Savage, who was minister of Ballenon Reformed Presbyterian Church, near Poyntzpass, in county Armagh and a relative of the Irvine family. 

This article only provides a brief guide to the content of the Hugh Irvine Collection and a flavor of the riches it contains. If you have a research query relevant to the contents of the Collection, please contact the Museum at museum@nmandd.org

The Museum is currently offering free tours on Wednesdays and Thursdays at 11.00 am. These must be booked in advance by calling our Education Officer at 0330 137 4422. 

Newry and Mourne Museum is open Tuesday – Saturday 10.00 am – 4.30 pm. Please call 0330 137 4422 or email museum@nmandd.org for further information.

by Ken Abraham

Say something here...
or post as a guest
Loading comment... The comment will be refreshed after 00:00.

Be the first to comment.

DONATE TO NEWRY.IE

Please consider supporting Newry.ie

Amount
Newry.ie require Cookies on some parts of our site to enable full functionality. By using Newry.ie you consent to our use of Cookies. You can use your browser settings to disable cookies on this or any other website.