The British Library in London has atlases, maps and charts of harbours drawn for trade and defence. They also have drawings by visitors and officials of the towns and countryside. Many of the historical charts and sailing directions from the Admiralty have moved to the British Library but some remain in Taunton. This includes the hand-drawn surveys by the sailors. Charts often include sailing views of how the coast directly looked to the surveyors.
National Archives Kew has titles to shipwrecks, letters from captains about storms and dangers to shipping from the 17th century, construction of Napoleonic coastal defences, and correspondence about harbour improvements. The National Archives of Ireland has similar harbour development such as the 19th-century dredging of the River Boyne that removed ancient fords but allowed access upriver to Drogheda.
The National Library of Ireland includes piloting directions around the coast. Trinity College Dublin and University College Dublin have map libraries and online resources. The National Museum of Ireland has a topographic archive of correspondence and descriptions about artefact discoveries. The National Monument Service holds many records of archaeological sites, including a shipwreck inventory, with information on surveys and excavations. This includes aerial surveys and older photographs of coastal monuments to compare with the site today.
Museums such as the National Maritime Museums in Dunlaoghaire and Greenwich have further charts, drawings and photographs on display. They also have artefacts for comparison with that found on coastal surveys. This can lead to understanding navigation and use of the coastal sites.
There are further more local archives for counties, towns and harbours such as Dublin Civic, Dublin County, and Dublin Port. Then there are private archives, accessed with special permission, such as Woodhouse Estate in Stradbally, Co. Waterford.
Archival sources not only contribute to the construction of detailed time climate and weather histories but also provide a deeper narrative of an individual or community’s experience of extreme weather. Here, we can examine the ways in which people responded to specific events, how prepared they were and the types of coping strategies that were adopted. There is a wealth of material housed in our national repositories at the National Library of Wales and the National Archives of Ireland as well as in numerous regional archives and libraries. Members of the CHERISH team have been involved in the development of a database (TEMPEST) of narrative accounts of historical weather extremes across the UK as part of the AHRC funded project Weather Extremes. We will be building on this and previous research in Ireland (e.g. Sweeney, 2002) by gathering evidence on historical storms, flooding and coastal change and associated impacts from a range of sources such as personal diaries and correspondence; travelogues; newspaper reports; log books; maps; charts and literary sources.