Cahir Healy Papers

Repository: Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

Identity Statement

TitleCahir Healy Papers
Archive ReferenceGB 0255 PRONI/D2991
Web Link to this Entry
Creation Dates1712-1970
Extent Mediumc 3,000 documents and 24 volumes


Creator(s): Healy, Cahir, 1877-1970, politician

  • Administrative History ↴

    Cahir Healy (1877-1970) was a Nationalist politician. He was Westminster MP for Fermanagh and Tyrone, 1922-1924 and 1931-1935 and for Fermanagh and South Tyrone, 1950-1955, and Stormont MP for Fermanagh and Tyrone, 1925-1929, and for South Fermanagh, 1929-1965. He was born, the son of a small farmer, in December 1877, near Mountcharles, Co. Donegal, and was reared in 'a bi-lingual household'. He received his education at the local national school, and an early interest in reading and preoccupation with men and affairs, directed him to a career in journalism. Healy was an early convert to the 'new nationalism', and his arrival in Fermanagh was to have a catalytic impact on the formation of nationalist cultural and separatist activities. The Gaelic League, founded in 1893, was the harbinger of the new era and, significantly, it was Healy who launched the Enniskillen branch in November 1902, with Rev. James McKenna (later P.P., Dromore, Co. Tyrone) as Chairman, and himself as secretary. By 1906, he had become chairman of the Fermanagh County Board of the Gaelic Athletic Association. Healy's disenchantment with the Irish Parliamentary Party seems to have come early in his career, and he evinced no interest in the Home Rule campaign of the United Irish League or in the development of the Ancient Order of Hibernians by the Redmondite, Joseph Devlin. Indeed, he was a frequent contributor to Arthur Griffith's United Irishman (1899-1906) - which became the linchpin of the novel 'Sinn Fein' policy of dual monarchy - and was amongst the twelve founder members of the Sinn Fein party. He was imprisoned for his political activities in 1922, before being elected in the UK general election, 1922 to represent Fermanagh and Tyrone as a Nationalist Party MP. During his varied and distinguished political career he continued to write, his output including journalism, poetry and short stories. Healy retired from Stormont in 1965. Perhaps his most significant contribution to public life in his last years was as an advocate for and a foundation Board Member of the Ulster Folk Museum at Cultra, Co. Down.
  • Archival History ↴

    Deposited by Dr. Leavy, Castleblayney, County Monaghan. The first part of the Cahir Healy papers was deposited in PRONI in 1974 and the second in 1978. In 1977, Dr Eamon Phoenix, then an MA student in the Modern History Department, QUB, undertook a sorting and calendaring of the papers as the project part of his MA in historiography and historical method. Dr Phoenix's introduction to the calendar of the papers was duly presented as part of his course work. Subsequent to this, he was employed in a temporary capacity by PRONI to sort and roughly list the further deposit of Healy papers which was made in 1978, and to integrate them with the papers deposited in 1974. On his work, in these two capacities, the arrangement, list and description of the archive are based. He has since published Northern Nationalism: Nationalist Politics, Partition and the Catholic Minority in Northern Ireland, 1890-1940 (Belfast, 1994). In the following (very much abbreviated) version of his introduction to the archive, footnote references have been omitted, because the reader can now turn to Northern Nationalism for the source and authority for all quotations and statements up to 1940.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴


Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Healy, Cahir, 1877-1970, politician ↴

    Healy’s surviving political correspondence runs from 1924 to 1970. The most important section of the early part of it, to c. 1930, is a run of letters, circulars and memoranda, c. 1927-1929. These relate to the border Nationalists’ decision to enter the Northern Ireland Parliament in 1927, Healy’s rapprochement with Joe Devlin in the interests of nationalist unity, and the establishment of the National League in May 1928. They are an essential source for an understanding of the apparent nationalist volte-face vis-a-vis the Dail.
    The papers for the period c. 1930-c. 1955 include further material shedding new light on the formation and workings of Catholic Registration Associations – the essential machinery of the Nationalist Party in Fermanagh and Tyrone.
    A disproportionately large volume of letters dates from the period c. 1955-1970, with the emphasis falling heavily on the years 1960-1965. These include a great deal of routine ‘constituency correspondence’, but are not lacking in political exchanges between Healy and such key Nationalist politicians as Eddie McAteer, Senator Patrick MacGill and Senator J.G. Lennon, as well as isolated instances of correspondence with Civil Rights activists like Betty Sinclair, Dr Conn and Mrs P. McCloskey of the ‘Campaign for Social Justice’, and with various Irish-American activists c. 1964-1969 – providing insights into the Northern Ireland Civil Rights Campaign, and the violent events of 1969.
    The literary material – other than correspondence – comprises hundreds of historical articles, broadcast-scripts, reviews, plays (published and unpublished), and poems written by Healy, together with associated cuttings, and copies of newspapers and magazines (mainly dated late 1960s) containing articles by Healy.
    In addition, there are personal diaries of Healy, 1940-1965, and photographs of him, c.1960s.

    -Extracted from a full account of the Cahir Healy Papers in the PRONI catalogue:

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Permanent Retention
  • Arrangement ↴

    D2991/A General correspondence of Cahir Healy
    D2991/B ‘Particular correspondence’ of Cahir Healy with particular individuals or on particular topics
    D2991/C Literary material and related correspondence
    D2991/D Press cuttings
    D2991/E Pamphlets and propaganda
    D2991/F Personal diaries kept by Healy
    D2991/G Photographs of Healy and his friends and family
    D2991/H Scrapbooks containing press cuttings about Cahir Healy’s political and literary career and Nationalist politics generally
    D2991/I Miscellaneous personal papers

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions The collection can be consulted in the reading room in PRONI in accordance with PRONI's rules and regulations.
Conditions Governing ReproductionConsult PRONI for guidance
Creation Dates1712-1970
Extent Mediumc 3,000 documents and 24 volumes
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Finding Aids A descriptive list is available to search online at: Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

There are no Allied Materials

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NotePRONI Archivist
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottawa: International Council on Archives, 2000. National Council on Archives: Rules for the Construction of Personal, Place and Corporate Names. Chippenham: National Council on Archives, 1997. UK Archival Thesaurus (UKAT)
Date of Descriptions41699