NUI Galway launches Digital Archive relating to Northern Ireland Peace Process

Extract from the Red Book Hunger Strike Diary, 1981, a notebook on which Brendan Duddy recorded contacts during his time as intermediary during the Hunger Strikes.
Oct 18 2016 Posted: 14:22 IST

A new Digital Archive collection is to be launched by NUI Galway James Hardiman Library on Tuesday, 25 October at 5pm in the Hardiman Research Building. This new online resource contains digitised items from the archive of Brendan Duddy, the Derry businessman who maintained a secret channel of communication between the British government and the IRA Army Council for twenty years.

Brendan Duddy was a key figure in the 1975 ceasefire negotiations, the 1981 Republican Hunger Strikes - the 35th anniversary of whose conclusion occurred earlier this month, and ceasefire talks between 1990 and 1994 and was the subject of Peter Taylor’s BBC documentary ‘The Secret Peacemaker’.

The archive was deposited in NUI Galway in 2009, and contains over 700 documents that cover these three critical periods during the Troubles. It includes coded diaries documenting contact, as well as messages exchanged, between the British government and the Provisional Republican leadership. The archive gives a rare insight into the dynamics and the role of secret negotiation in conflict resolution. Also included are several hours of filmed interviews between Brendan Duddy and Dr Niall Ó Dochartaigh of NUI Galway’s School of Political Science and Sociology, in which these key historical events are discussed. In the context of the recent Brexit vote, there are interesting references to the status of the border and the implications for Northern Ireland of any change in political arrangements.

Professor Lionel Pilkington of NUI Galway’s School of Humanities, said: “Brendan Duddy’s fascinating papers draw attention to that largely unacknowledged war that, from the late 1960s, dominated Irish political conscience for three decades. For the researcher, this is an invaluable archive of materials, and it testifies also to Duddy’s own extraordinary courage and integrity.”   

NUI Galway Librarian John Cox said: “Making a significant proportion of this important archive available online will enable new insights into some of the major episodes in the Troubles.”

The archive has been used by local and international scholars of conflict studies, alongside some of NUI Galway’s other archival collections such as the papers of Ruairí Ó Brádaigh and Professor Kevin Boyle. This new Digital Archive makes a substantial amount of that material available online to researchers throughout the world and can be viewed on the NUI Galway Digital Collections platform at, along with some of the University’s other digital archives such as The Abbey Theatre Early Minute Books, the Michael Cusack Collection and the Balfour Album of 19th century photographs of Galway.

A public interview titled “Can you keep a secret? Family life with a secret peacemaker” between Dr Niall Ó Dochartaigh and some of Brendan Duddy’s family members will precede the launch. Professor Lionel Pilkington will launch the Digital Archive, followed by a demonstration of the resource by Digital Archivist, Aisling Keane.

The event is free, but registration is essential. Please visit  to register.


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