Index and Scrapbooks of Dr. M. F. Waldron.
Michael F Waldron who died in 1954 was, in his time, one of the foremost scholars in the history of Ballyhaunis. As an author, poet, playwright and antiquarian he had a national reputation. Twice in his lifetime he was nominated for the Nobel Prize. He was an unassuming, well-dressed, reserved gentleman, locally recognised as an eminent scholar who lived a frugal life-style and kept very much to himself.
His papers and scrapbooks have been preserved by Fr Kieran Waldron, Ballyhaunis who also compiled the Index to the Scrapbook of Dr. Michael F. Waldron. They form a prodigious record of Ballyhaunis history and archaeology, and contain up to one thousand of his prolific writings which were published in various newspapers. The main scrapbook is now online through the good offices of Mayo County Library. Dr Michael also contributed some volumes of various collections of his writings to the National Library of Ireland in Dublin.
In 2013 Fr Kieran Waldron published a short biography under the title Collect the Fragments: Ballyhaunis Historian Michael F Waldron LLD (1i876-1954).
His Path to Scholarship
Michael F himself was, virtually, self- educated as there were no second-level schools within twenty miles of Ballyhaunis when he was a boy. So he never had an opportunity to benefit from secondary schooling. He began ‘to study privately’, as he describes it, the subjects ‘Latin, French, English, Mathematics and Natural Philosophy’ with a view to matriculating directly into the old Catholic University in Dublin. He matriculated successfully in 1898 at the age of twenty two. After a distinguished University career he graduated with a Bachelor of Arts Degree in 1906 followed by an LLB, Bachelor of Laws in 1908. After further post-graduate study for several years, in 1911, he was awarded the prized degree of Doctor of Laws, (Legum Doctor, LLD) from the newly constituted National University of Ireland
It is clear from all this that Dr Michael F Waldron was a born academic. However, in the family census form for the 1911 Census the ‘rank, profession or occupation’ of Michael, then aged 35, was simply ‘teacher and journalist’. For his whole life he shared his thoughts, his wisdom through the medium of the public press. Apart from his plays, many of which were published, and some of which were broadcast on Radio Eireann, his weekly articles form the core of his literary output.
In his lifetime he was deeply involved in many aspects of his local community, notably as Honorary Secretary at the time of the building of St Patrick’s Church Ballyhaunis from 1901 to 1909. He took a prominent part in the work of the Gaelic League – Connradh na Gaeilge, the United Irish League and he was President of the South Mayo Dáil Éireann Courts from 1920.
The Index and Scrapbooks are available below -- it is important to note that the index numbers refer to the page numbers hand written on the scrapbook.