"Local Elections", an exhibition created by Local Authority Archivists, will be on show for one month from the 2nd April, 2009 in Clare County Council, Áras Contae an Chláir, New Road, Ennis. This exhibition was launched in Dublin by Mr. John Gormley, T.D., Minister of the Environment, Heritage and Local Government last November. The exhibition will feature exhibits connected with Clare’s Local Elections which will include a telegram sent by Eamon De Valera to his wife after his 1917 by-election victory over Irish Party candidate Patrick Lynch. Also on view will be voters' lists dating back to the 1860s and Board of Guardian Minute books demonstrating the predecessor bodies of the present local authority system. The exhibition will also include interesting insights into the difficulties faced by local government in the new Free State such as a report on the administration of Clare County Council dated the 12th November, 1923 as to the attendance of councillors at meetings "...the county council is composed of 31 members. The number of general meetings from June 1920 to February 1924 was eighteen…To appreciate the records of attendance I have to point out some difficulties under which the council laboured. Practically every member of the council was on the run, eight had their homes burned, and nine were either interned or imprisoned. For a considerable period it was not possible for them to assemble at the usual place of Meeting. Some of the meetings were held at midnight at specially chosen and scattered places under and by armed protection. It was only by cautious movements and grave risks many meetings were made possible and I have evidence to show where one member walked fifty miles to a council meeting rather than absent himself."
This exhibition seeks to highlight to the public the national story of local government and also the local impact it has had on its community. It begins in 1898 when the Local Government Act extended a franchise to vote to all owners and occupiers of property valued at £10 or more, which included heads of small farms and labouring households, male and female. On the 22nd April, 1899, newly elected councillors of County Clare met for the first time to pass resolutions on behalf of the people who elected them. Prior to 1899, local government lay in the hands of Grand Juries and Boards of Guardians who were mainly governed by local landlords. It is hoped as we move toward the upcoming local elections in June that it will heighten the awareness of the purpose and goals of local elections and the impact of local government has in our communities. Contact details: firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the archivist Rene Franklin on 065 6846 414/563. The panels accompanying the exhibits may be viewed by clicking here (PDF download).