The Armstrong Papers

Repository: Glucksman Library University of Limerick

Identity Statement

TitleThe Armstrong Papers
Archive ReferenceIE 2135 P6
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1662-1999
Extent Medium133 boxes, 2 outsize items (2522 files)


Creator(s): The Armstrong family of Moyaliffe Castle, county Tipperary, and the related families of Maude of Lenaghan, county Fermanagh; Everard of Ratcliffe Hall, Leicestershire; Kemmis of Ballinacor, county Wicklow; Russell of Broadmead Manor, Kent; and others.

  • Administrative History ↴

    For a biographical overview of the Armstrong family of Moyaliffe Castle, please consult the finding aids available on the Glucksman Library website, or in the Reading Room in Special Collections, University of Limerick.
  • Archival History ↴

    The collection as it stands was held in various parts of Moyaliffe Castle until 1999, except for a small trunk of documents which was transferred in Jess Kemmis’s lifetime to the Bolton Library, Cashel, for examination and cataloguing which however did not take place. In 1999, when Moyaliffe Castle was being prepared for sale, archival material preserved in the house was gathered together and transferred to the home of local historian Willie Hayes, Roscrea, county Tipperary, for safekeeping. The material was inspected by George Cunningham, Vice-Chairman of the Governing Authority of the University of Limerick and noted antiquarian, who undertook the necessary representations with the university to have the collection permanently housed in its Special Collections at the Glucksman Library. In the meantime, temporary storage for the material was arranged by Dom Laurence Walsh in Mount St Joseph Abbey, Roscrea. The collection, including the small trunk of documents in the Bolton Library, was transferred to Special Collections on 3 March 2001. Donated by Susan and Graham Armstrong, Natal, South Africa, in 1999.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴


Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: The Armstrong family of Moyaliffe Castle, county Tipperary, and the related families of Maude of Lenaghan, county Fermanagh; Everard of Ratcliffe Hall, Leicestershire; Kemmis of Ballinacor, county Wicklow; Russell of Broadmead Manor, Kent; and others. ↴

    P6 contains material created and generated by the Armstrong and Kemmis families during their ownership of Moyaliffe Castle, county Tipperary, and includes both administrative records and personal documents. Seventeenth-century material is scarce and limited in the main to leases of small pockets of land in counties Tipperary and Limerick. A more unusual item from this period is the satirical manuscript poem On the Bill of Conformity, attributed to Henry Hall, one of only sixteen known copies in the world. Eighteenth-century administrative records are mainly of financial and legal nature and arise from the badly managed affairs of William Armstrong (1704-1768), which affected his brother, the Reverend John Armstrong (1708-1781), who succeeded to the estate. Of personal items, the collection of early eighteenth-century sermons attributed to the Reverend Edward Armstrong, the Reverend John Armstrong and others is of particular interest.

    The nineteenth-century administrative material relates predominantly to the management of the Moyaliffe estate, and the succession to, management and eventual disposal of the family’s estates in Mayo and Sligo. There are also some clerical records of interest, most notably material relating to tithe wars of the 1830s, and the state of dilapidation of the Mansion House of the See of Tuam discovered after the death, in 1819, of the Most Reverend Honourable William Beresford, first Baron Decies, Arch-bishop of Tuam, whose daughter was married to John Armstrong (1791-1847).

    By far the most voluminous, and perhaps the most interesting, part of the collection is that relating to the twentieth century. The administrative records in this section are in the main concerned with the management not only of Moyaliffe Castle but also of Ballinacor, county Wicklow, home of Captain William Daryl Olphert Kemmis (1892-1965) who married Jess Armstrong (1893-1982). There is also a large quantity of material relating to Moyaliffe Stud, and to the problem of succession to the Moyaliffe and Ballinacor estates following Captain Kemmis’s death without issue in 1965. On the personal side, the extensive correspondence of Rosalie Armstrong (1868-1956) and her daughter Jess provide a unique insight into the genteel Anglo-Irish lifestyle and the irrevocable changes wrought upon it by the onset of the First World War. Of unique significance are the letters of Captain Kemmis to his father, and the letters and diaries of Captain William Maurice (‘Pat’) Armstrong (1890-1917) written during the First World War, providing first-hand accounts of events as they unfolded in the various theatres of war.

    The twentieth-century material was roughly arranged by Jess Kemmis, who also appears to have destroyed some of it for personal reasons. Items thus lost included letters written by her niece, Bettyne Spencer (née Everard), to justify her actions during the Moyaliffe Castle dispute (for which see 1821-1831). The letters were destroyed by Mrs Kemmis because she felt her niece’s views to be wrong. Also missing are Jess Kemmis’s diaries for the years 1955-1982 which she is known to have kept assiduously with the view to their permanent preservation within the family papers.

    Jess Kemmis provided many explanatory notes and dates relating to the Armstrong Papers and the people and events to which they relate. These notes, which can be found scattered throughout the collection, should be treated with due caution as most, while well-intentioned and often helpful, can be misleading or inaccurate, written as they were in advanced old age.

    P6A contains photograph albums, prints, negatives, metal and glass plates, slides and film mostly taken of and by Captain Marcus Beresford Armstrong, his wife and children and their extended family and friends, predominantly between 1890 and 1960. The images include studio portraits of members of the Armstrong, Maude and Kemmis families and snapshots of family life at Moyaliffe Castle, county Tipperary and Ballinacor, county Wicklow. Also contained in the collection are images of hunting and shooting parties in country houses across Ireland, England and Scotland; portraits of horses bred at Moyaliffe Stud, and snapshots of tenants and labourers mainly on the Moyaliffe estate. The collection also contains a unique set of images taken by Captain Pat Armstrong of military life in India and South Africa, where he served with the Tenth Royal Hussars, and of field operations in Europe and North Africa during the First World War. Note that all images are black and white unless otherwise stated.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    All records have been retained.
  • Accruals ↴

    No accruals are expected.
  • Arrangement ↴

    P6: The material in this collection has been arranged into two parts. Part one comprises documents pertaining to the Armstrong family of Moyaliffe Castle and has been arranged into eight series (A-H) to follow the succession to the estate from Captain William Armstrong (c. 1630-1695) to Captain Marcus Beresford Armstrong (1859-1923). Under each section, documents have been divided into subseries according to their form (financial records, leases, correspondence etc.) or creator (wives, daughters and younger sons), and listed chronologically by date.
    Part two comprises seven series. Series A contains papers relating to the Kemmis family of Ballinacor, county Wicklow, and follows the same generational arrangement as Part one. This series incorporates papers created and generated by Jess Armstrong, who married Captain William Daryl Olphert Kemmis in 1927.
    Series B comprises papers relating to the South African branch of the Armstrong family, who inherited the Moyaliffe estate following the death of Jess Kemmis in 1982. The material in this section is arranged according to the same principles as Series A.
    Series C comprises documents which it has not been possible to attribute to any particular family member. The material has been divided into sub-series according to their form (leases, wills, appointments etc.), and listed chronologically by date.
    Series D, E and F comprise maps and atlases; paintings and drawings; and postcards and letterheads, respectively, arranged chronologically by date.
    Series G comprises press cuttings, arranged into sub-series according to their subject matter and listed either alphabetically by surname or chronologically by date.

    P6A: Images have been arranged into six series according to their
    form (prints (loose and in albums), negatives, glass plates, metal plates, slides and film). Loose prints have been further arranged into seven categories according to their subject matter and thereunder alphabetically by surname or place name and/ or chronologically by date or approximate date. Similar arrangement has been applied to loose negatives. Groups of negatives found in their original paper sleeves have been kept together and described as sets. The paper sleeves have not been listed but are available for inspection.

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions P6: Unrestricted access to most items. Files 2053-2086 are closed to research until 2042 to protect the privacy of the living members of the Armstrong family. P6A: Unrestricted access to loose prints, glass and metal plates and slides. The photograph albums are too fragile to be safely handled and access can only be permitted in exceptional cases. The contents of these albums have been digitized and can be viewed on a digital image viewer in the reading room. Negatives and film are too fragile to be safely handled and access can only be permitted in exceptional cases.
Conditions Governing ReproductionP6: Standard copyright regulations apply to all items. For photocopying or reproducing material, please consult with the staff.
Creation Dates1662-1999
Extent Medium133 boxes, 2 outsize items (2522 files)
Material Language ScriptP6: English, except for 1002, which is in French, and 1423, which is in two different Arabic scripts P6A: English
Characteristics Tech ReqP6: Paper documents in good or reasonable condition. A number of items require conservation treatment and are too fragile to be safely handled. These items have been identified in the descriptive catalogue and, where possible, transcripts of their contents have been provided. P6A: Many of the photographs albums show signs of extensive water damage and foxing. Prints, metal and glass plates and slides are mostly in good condition. Many of the negatives suffer from fading and silver sulphide staining.
Finding Aids A hard copy of the descriptive catalogues are available in the Reading Room in Special Collections, University of Limerick. Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Copies InformationP6: Files 15, 90, 352, 357, 360, 363, 366, 368, 453, 457, 467, 469, 583, 598, 600, 609, 680, 775-776, 779-782, 784, 793, 795-796, 798-799, 804-806, 808, 812, 815, 818-819, 821-825, 827, 829-835, 837, 920-934, 957, 1001, 1319-1322, 1325-1326, 1328-1331, 1333-1335, 1337-1343, 2063, 2130 and 2133 comprise in full or in part photocopies of originals. The reason for the absence of the originals is unknown, as is their present location or status.
Related MaterialFor additional material, including images, concerning Captain William Maurice (‘Pat’) Armstrong and his military career, and for a suggested re-sequencing of file 1205, see P41 (The Alan and Judy Weeks Collection) in the Special Collections. Captain Armstrong’s uniforms and other related wartime memorabilia are on display at St Mary’s Famine and War Museum, Thurles ( A small collection of letters addressed to the Reverend William [Carew] Armstrong of Moyaliffe, Thurles, regarding the collection of tithes in county Kilkenny, is held in the National Library, Dublin, MS 49,441 (1-7). For researchers interested in the wider Armstrong family, provides a useful starting point. Photographs of members of the Everard family are available in the National Portrait Gallery, London, A recording containing clips from the wedding of Captain Kemmis and Jess Armstrong can be viewed online at
Publication NoteP6: The following publications were consulted in preparing the fonds-level description: Burke’s Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland (London: Harrison & Sons, 1912); Burke’s Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Landed Gentry of Ireland (fourth edition, London: Burke’s Peerage Ltd., 1958); Burke’s Irish Family Records (London: Burke’s Peerage Ltd., 1976); Burke’s Genealogical and Heraldic History of the Peerage Baronetage and Knightage (104th edition; London: Burke’s Peerage Ltd., 1967); Hayes, William and Kavanagh, Art, The Tipperary Gentry, vol. 1 (Dublin: Irish Family Names, 2003); Bence-Jones, Mark, A Guide to Irish Country Houses (revised edition; London: Constable, 1988); and unpublished accounts supplied by Stella Barnes, Willie Hayes and John C. McTernan.


NoteThe spelling of personal and place names appears in the catalogue as it appears in the documents, with the modern day equivalent provided in square brackets whenever possible. Researchers are advised to consult the IreAtlas Townland Database at for further assistance. Owing to the similarity of personal names from one generation to the next, individual family members are referred to by their full name and title, for example the nephew of William Armstrong (1704-1768) is at all times referred to as the Reverend William Carew Armstrong (1752-1839). For the last generation of the Armstrongs to live at Moyaliffe, pet names have been applied to differentiate between family members. Thus, Winona Rosalie Armstrong (later Kemmis) is referred to as Jess, to differentiate her from her mother, Rosalie Armstrong, and her mother-in-law, Frances Kemmis. Similarly, Captain William Maurice Armstrong is referred to as Pat Armstrong, to differentiate him from his father, Captain Marcus Beresford Armstrong. For the Kemmis family, Captain Kemmis refers to Jess Armstrong’s husband, and Colonel Kemmis to her father-in-law.

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteP6: Anna-Maria Hajba P6A: Anna-Maria Hajba
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottowa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of Descriptions41244