Jim Kemmy Papers

Repository: Glucksman Library University of Limerick

Identity Statement

TitleJim Kemmy Papers
Archive ReferenceIE 2135 P5
Web Link to this Entryhttps://iar.ie/archive/jim-kemmy-papers
Creation Dates1863-1998
Extent Medium73 Boxes


Creator(s): Kemmy, Seamus (Jim) (1936-1997)

  • Administrative History ↴

    Seamus Kemmy, better known as Jim Kemmy, was born in Limerick on 14 September, 1936, as the eldest of five children to Elizabeth Pilkington and stonemason Michael Kemmy. He was educated at the Christian Brothers’ primary school in Sexton Street and in 1952 followed his father into the Ancient Guild of Incorporated Brick and Stonelayers’ Trade Union to commence his five-year apprenticeship. When his father died of tuberculosis in 1955, the responsibility of providing for the family fell onto Kemmy’s shoulders. Having qualified as a stonemason in 1957, he emigrated to England in the hope of a better income. The different social conditions and the freedom of thought and expression he encountered there challenged and changed his traditional Catholic values and opened his eyes to the issues of social injustice and inequality, which he was to stand up against for the rest of his life.
  • Archival History ↴

    Donated by Patsy Harrold to the University of Limerick in [1998?]. The transfer and boxing of material was organised by Dr John Logan of the History Department.
  • Immediate Source Acquisition ↴


Content & Structure

  • Scope & Content: Kemmy, Seamus (Jim) (1936-1997) ↴

    Membership lists, correspondence, account books, financial reports, minutes, statements and press releases relating to The Ancient Guild of Incorporated Brick and Stonelayers’ Trade Union, Woodworkers and Plasterers’ Trade Union, Construction Industry Federation, Irish Congress of Trade Unions, Limerick Building Trades Group, SIPTU and other trade unions and union activities (1962-1998); rules, correspondence, bills, receipts and financial reports relating to the Mechanics’ Institute (1882-1996); constitutions and policy statements, press statements, speeches, membership lists, minutes, financial statements, election manifestos, correspondence, pamphlets and posters relating to the Democratic Socialist Party (1980-1994); minutes, reports, statements, accounts and correspondence relating to the Labour Party (1965-1997); electoral material and correspondence relating to Kemmy’s Dáil terms and electoral campaigns (1977-1997); correspondence, speeches, press releases, minutes and appointment diaries relating to Kemmy’s activities as Alderman and Mayor (1974-1997); appeals, petitions and other correspondence relating to Kemmy’s constituency work (1967-1997); articles and draft articles, research material (including nineteenth-century documents) and correspondence relating to Kemmy’s historical and literary activities; and photographs, artwork, correspondence and a small number of other items of personal nature.

  • Appraisal Destruction ↴

    Duplicates and some ephemera have been destroyed.
  • Accruals ↴

    Further accruals are not expected.
  • Arrangement ↴

    Material has been arranged into five series reflecting Kemmy’s major activities over the years:
    Section A relates to Kemmy’s union activities, particularly his role as secretary of the Ancient Guild of Incorporated Brick and Stonelayers’ Trade Union. Material relating to other trade unions is arranged alphabetically by union. General labour and trade union issues have been arranged under the headings of Apprenticeship, Employment, and Strikes and Disputes. Material relating to the Mechanics Institute has also been included in this section.

    Section B relates to Kemmy’s political activities and contains material on the formation and development of the Democratic Socialist Party, its subsequent amalgamation with the Labour Party, Kemmy’s election campaigns, his Dáil terms, and issues prominent in his political career.

    Section C relates to Kemmy’s constituency work and has been alphabetically divided into 17 categories, ranging from Arts to Sports. Administrative material relating to Limerick Corporation and Kemmy’s roles as Alderman and Mayor have also been included in this section.

    Section D relates to Kemmy’s historical interests and literary pursuits. Material relating to his books is arranged chronologically by publication. Correspondence relating to historical and literary matters has been included in this section, with the exception of correspondence with or relating to writers (most notably Frank McCourt and Jerry O’Neill), which can be found in

    Section C under Arts, Culture and Built Heritage (Literature). Kemmy’s particular interests, Michael Hogan, Limerick Jews, Labour History and the Park Danes, have all been grouped under their own headings. Research material collected by Kemmy has also been retained as it may help to identify some of the sources he used for his research, rarely footnoted in his articles.

    Section E contains personal material, including photographs, letters from friends, and ephemera. Thank you letters Kemmy received throughout his life have been included in this section, as it was often impossible to ascertain whether they were sent to him by friends or constituents. For clarity, all receipts and financial material have also been included in Section E, even when they relate to Kemmy’s Dáil terms or constituency work. The lack of personal items is illustrative of the fact that for Kemmy, his work equalled his life, and there was little distinction between his public and private persona.

Conditions of Access & Use

Access Conditions Most files contain personally identifiable or sensitive information relating to people other than Jim Kemmy and are closed until 2034 to protect individual privacy. A small number of items of particularly sensitive nature are closed until 2104. These items have been identified in the descriptive catalogue. Access to the remaining files is unrestricted.
Conditions Governing ReproductionReproduction of the material is permitted, except for closed files and any items dated after 1980 containing personal information.
Creation Dates1863-1998
Extent Medium73 Boxes
Material Language ScriptEnglish
Characteristics Tech ReqMostly paper documents in good condition. P5/772 requires a cassette recorder to access the information it contains.
Finding Aids A hard copy of the descriptive catalogue is available at the University of Limerick Special Collections. A searchable online catalogue is available on the Special Collections website at http://www2.ul.iepdf782359877.pdf Archive Web Link →

Allied Materials

Publication NoteA Tribute to Jim Kemmy', an audio book compiled and presented by Luke Verling and published by Earth Productions, was used to compile the fonds level description. A copy of this audio book is available at Special Collections, Glucksman library, University of Limerick.

Descriptive Control Area

Archivist NoteAnna-Maria Hajba
Rules/ConventionsISAD(G): General International Standard Archival Description. 2nd ed. Ottowa: International Council on Archives, 2000.
Date of Descriptions38231