Part time amateur enthusiastic students of local history have never been as numerous as they are today. Their work has spawned a multiplicity of publications ranging from substantial academic texts to the numerous books and pamphlets published by individual local historians and Historical Societies.
Genealogical research into ones own family is generally an initial step into a field of study which is both varied and extensive. The next step is inevitably the study of the history of a particular locality. However one enters into local history studies one thing is certain; the student will go to his local Library, look at what is available in the reference section or local archive material section and embark on a life long study which will never lose its interest.
The growing interest in local history and the awakening of interest in their own place amongst school children has created a huge demand for research material in our local libraries. Our national archives are not always readily accessible to the country based researchers but unfortunately our local libraries do not seem to be able to keep pace with the needs for basic research material even of a secondary nature.
The recent opening of the new vastly improved library service in the Town Hall under the guidance of the dynamic and resourceful County Librarian Breda Gleeson will hopefully lead to a dramatic improvement in the availability of research material in Athy. Success in local history work requires active co-operation between local libraries and national archives, local History Societies and the schools. Never before has there been such a need for all these bodies to collaborate more and more with each other to meet the every growing and popular demands of local history studies.
Eye on the Past will each week deal with a topic of interest from the History of South Kildare when we will delve into the rich vein of local History which remains to be discovered and related in future articles.