Limerick Chamber of Commerce 1807-1946

  • Reference code: IE LA P1
  • Extent: 60 Items

Scope & Content

Minute Books (1807-1946). Correspondence (1820-1936). Ballot Books (1830-1949). Returns of Goods (1807-1854). Financial Records (1808-1886). Chamber of Commerce Library (c 1830-1860). Limerick Arbitration Society Minute Book (1840). National Assurance Company (1856-1866).

The collection is arranged into ten sections. The first five sections are organized by category of record namely minute books, correspondence, ballot books, returns of goods, and financial records. All these records relate directly to the Chamber of Commerce.

The next two sections relate to the records of the Chamber of Commerce Library, and the Limerick Arbitration Society, both which were established by the Chamber of Commerce. The final sections consist of records relating to the Limerick Employers Federation, the National Insurance Company, and the Limerick merchant Poole Gabett


Bridges, Butter, Chamber of Commerce, Commerce, Commercial Buildings, Limerick, Exports, Flour, Gabbett, Poole, Imports, Limerick Arbitration Society,
Limerick Citizens and Rate Payers Association, Limerick Employers Foundation, Limerick Harbour, Limerick Port, Limerick Linen, Merchants, National Assurance Company, O' Connell, Daniel, M.P (1776-1847),O' Grady, Standish, Oats, Potatoes, Railways, Regulation, River Shannon, Rutland Street, Limerick Shannon Fishery,Shipping, Spring- Rice Family of Mount Trenchard, baronets of Monteagle of Brandon, county Kerry, Spring Rice Thomas, (1790-1866) 1st Baron, Tolls, Trade, Wheat


Limerick Chamber of Commerce

Biographical / Historical Note

Merchants in Limerick first began to hold regular meetings in the last years of the eighteenth century. In 1805 Limerick Merchants constructed the Commercial Buildings at Rutland Street, and constituted themselves as the Commercial Building Company. On 7 May 1807 the Chamber of Commerce was officially founded when at a meeting of merchants, it was resolved that ‘it appears to this meeting that it would be serviceable to the trade of this city to establish a Committee of Merchants or a Chamber of Commerce' (P1/1).

On 2nd June 1815, the Chamber was incorporated by a Royal Charter by King George III, under the title of ‘the Chamber of Commerce of Limerick' and the Chamber moved to its present premises at 96 O'Connell Street, in 1833. In order to become a member of the Chamber of Commerce, a merchant had to be nominated by an existing member and elected by receiving a vote from a minimum of fifteen other members. Once elected a merchant had to agree to pay the Chamber an annual import and export rate on all goods imported and exported through Limerick (P1/34-39).

In order to qualify to vote at general meetings of the Chamber, a member had to have contributed a minimum of 40 shillings per annum. Hence the Chamber kept records of imports and exports of goods through Limerick Harbour and ballot books showing the election of members (P1/30-31). Members of the Chamber met annually to elect a management committee. The 1815 Charter required that this management committee be made up of nine directors, at least three of which, had not served as directors the previous year. Five directors constituted a quorum and to qualify as a director, a merchant had to earn a minimum of £1500 per annum.

The Directors were responsible for management of funds, disposal of property, and ordinary affairs of the Chamber. Also the directors regularly established sub-committees to investigate specific concerns. The sub-committees generally consisted of President, the Vice- President and secretary of the Chamber, and members with technical knowledge of the business at hand. Additionally general meetings of all members could be called if twelve members submitted a signed request to the president of the Chamber, outlining the matter that they wanted to discuss.

The function of the Chamber, from its inception was the ‘promotion, regulation and protection of trade and all its branches' in Limerick City. To achieve this aim, the Chamber engaged with wide range of activities at local and national level. These activities include the drawing up of regulations relating to industries such as butter, corn, and leather, and employing of various inspectors to examine the quality of goods before approving same for purchase by its members.

From 1808 to 1822, the Chamber also leased the right to tolls on potatoes and corn from Limerick Corporation for a rent of £1,500 a year. During the first half of the nineteenth century, the Chamber played a key role in the development of Limerick Harbour and also assumed control over pilotage in the River Shannon and made payments to individuals who salvaged vessels and marked hazards in the Estuary.

The Chamber of Commerce also sought to influence national affairs relating to commerce. It submitted petitions to Parliament and engaged in correspondence with politicians on subjects such as railways, postal rates, and improvement of local infrastructure, foreign tariffs, and development of export trade.

Limerick Chamber of Commerce collection will be of interest to those researching the economic development of Limerick City, improvement of infrastructure such as railways, post routes, and roads in Ireland, the impact of foreign tariffs and laws passed in Britain on Ireland, and the role of individual merchants, specific companies and industries, and the Chamber itself in local, national, and international affairs.

Administrative Information

  • Access Restrictions: N.A.
  • Use Restrictions: N.A.
  • Related Materials: P2 Limerick Harbour Commissioners, held by Limerick Archives. O’Conner Daniel, ‘The History and Functions of Limerick Chamber of Commerce’, unpublished theisis, University College Dublin, 1938


Collection Content

I. Minute Books, 1807-1946

Minute Books with handwritten minutes of general meetings and committee meetings of Limerick Chamber of Commerce.

After 1815 Charter granted to Limerick Chamber of Commerce, committee meetings became known as Directors meetings, and were held several times a month. General meetings were held annually to elect directors, and intermittently when summoned by the president which required the signature of 12 members, to discuss a single topic only, such as changes to bye laws of the Chamber.

Minutes list date, names of attendees, and absentees, and resolutions passed at meeting. Matters discussed relate to the promotion, regulation and protection of trade it all its branches in Limerick City. Includes annual nomination of members, election of directors and officers of the chamber, appointment of sub committee, rules of the organization such as qualifications needed for membership, accounts of Chamber, employment, linen trade, corn trade, agriculture, trade laws, rates on imports and exports to be paid by members, relationship with other chambers of commerce in Ireland.

Includes copies of Charter granted to Limerick Chamber of Commerce by King George III, copies of agreements with Limerick Corporation, and copies of memorials and petitions sent to parliament. Minutes from 17 October 1932 are typescript and include topics such as fire-fighting and public transport services. Minutes usually signed by secretary or president of Chamber. P1/16-20 consists of Directors meetings only.

Extent: 10 volumes

PDF File:P1/1
  • Limerick Chamber of Commerce Minute Book 7 May 1807-30 December 1812. Includes 'it appears to this Meeting, that it would be serviceable to the trade of this city, to establish a Committee of Merchants or a Chamber of Commerce' (7 May 1807)
  • Extent: 365pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.

PDF File:P1/2 

  • Limerick Chamber of Commerce Minute Book 1 January 1813-16 June 1815
  • Extent: 55ff
  • Access Rules: N.A.
PDF File:P1/3
  • Limerick Chamber of Commerce Minute Books 23 June 1815-28 April 1820
  • Extent: 356pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
PDF File:P1/4
  • Limerick Chamber of Commerce Minute Book 1 May 1820-29 August 1823
  • Extent: 350pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
PDF File:P1/5
  • Limerick Chamber of Commerce Minute Book 5 September 1823-4 October 1831
  • Extent: 169ff
  • Access Rules: N.A.
PDF File:P1/7
  • Limerick Chamber of Commerce Minute Book 9 November 1835-17 May 1841. Includes reference to the establishment of Arbitration Society
  • Extent: 192pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
PDF File:P1/8
  • Limerick Chamber of Commerce Minute Book 17 May 1841-10 October 1851
  • Extent: 276pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
PDF File:P1/9
  • Limerick Chamber of Commerce Minute Book 13 October 1851-10 June 1874
  • Extent: 358pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
PDF File:P1/11
  • Limerick Chamber of Commerce Minute Book 29 September 1902-16 January 1917
  • Extent: 434pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
PDF File:P1/16
  • Limerick Chamber of Commerce Minute Book 27 October 1919- 6 May 1946. Includes minutes of meeting of Directors with Limerick Employers Federation Ltd (11 June 1941)
  • Extent: 263pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.

B. Abstract of Minutes (1815-1870)

PDF File:P1/20. 2 April 1815-21 April 1870

  • Minutes from general meetings abstracted from volumes P1/11-19. Includes copy of 1815 charter, list of names and signatures of members of Chamber, and lists of bye-laws and their amendments up until 10 February 1835.
  • Extent: 100pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.

II. Correspondence, 1820-1936

  • Letter book with copies of letters received by Limerick Chamber of Commerce from various correspondents including Thomas Spring Rice (M.P), Daniel O'Connell (M.P), Standish O' Grady, James Roche (Irish Commercial Agent in London), Dublin Chamber of Commerce, Belfast Chamber of Commerce, Committee of Merchants of Cork, Committee of Merchants of Youghal, Post Master Generals Office, Alexander Nimmo (engineer), Commissioners of Customs, Trustees for the Encouragement of Industry, Royal Hibernian Academy, Limerick Agricultural Association and Limerick Relief Committee. Topics include application to Commissioners for the issue of money from the Consolidation fund for improvements to Limerick Port and Harbour, establishment of Irish Commercial Office in London, Dublin to Limerick mail contract, proposed railway company in Ireland, parliamentary bills effecting trade and commerce in Limerick, and a painting of Rice by Sir Martin Archer Shee. Includes considerable number of letters from Rice who feels it is 'my duty to communicate to you every circumstance that can be of importance to our city' (6 January 1825); letter from Daniel O' Connell relating to coal duties in Ireland, with comment 'it is however as a general rule absolutely necessary for the Irish people to demand redress with energy and perseverance as without exertions of a strong and powerful nature little impression can be made on a legislature removed from influence of popular sympathy with Ireland....I daily more and more feel and deplore the want of a resident legislature in Ireland.'(1 May 1830).
  • Extent: 143pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.

Letter books containing copy letters sent by Limerick Chamber of Commerce. Letters relate to activities of Chamber in the protection and promotion of commerce in Limerick.

Includes many letters to government agencies, to members of parliament of the House of Commons, Westminster, and after 1922 to members of Irish Free State parliament, generally relating to Bills or Inquiries effecting commerce before parliament, or appealing for support in improvement of Limerick City.

Includes also letters to Limerick Corporation, various Limerick institutions and organizations, individual members of Limerick Chamber, and to other Chamber of Commences in Ireland on matters of common interest; Letters generally include reference to the meeting of Directors of the Chamber where issue discussed and are signed by secretary or president of the Chamber.

Letter books include alphabetical index of correspondents. Letter book 1823-1865 consists of handwritten copies of letters, other letter books are generally damp press letter books with typescript copy letters. Some letters illegible due to fugitive ink
Extent: 4 Volumes


PDF File:P1/22. Letter Book 10 February 1823-12 April 1865

  • Letter books containing copy letters sent by Limerick Chamber of Commerce 10 February 1823-12 April 1865
  • Extent: 317ff
  • Access Rules: N.A.

PDF File:P1/24. Letter Book 20 July 1917-18 April 1934

  • Letter books containing copy letters sent by Limerick Chamber of Commerce 20 July 1917-18 April 1934
  • Extent: 1037ff
  • Access Rules: N.A.
  • Letter books containing copy letters sent by Limerick Chamber of Commerce 16 April 1934-3 February 1939. Includes copies of speeches made by Denis O'Dwyer, President of Chamber of Commerce, at Directors Meetings on 11 November 1936, and 11 January 1934.
  • Extent: 385pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
  • Letter book consisting of hand written copies of letters sent by John Carroll as agent of the Atlas Insurance Company, London, as agent to Union Insurance Company, Cornhill London, as secretary to the Chamber of Commerce, and in the engagement of personnel business. Includes also letters sent by his son David who acted as agent to Union Insurance Company, and as secretary to Chamber of Commerce after his fathers death in 1832, and his other son William, who replaced David as secretary to Chamber on 20 October 1836. Includes many letters to Henry Desborough (Atlas Insurance Office, London) relating to administration of policies and claims sold by Carroll in the Atlas Insurance Office, Limerick; letters relating to shipping, noting names of ships, itinerary, and value of cargos; letters relating to newspaper subscriptions of the Chamber of Commerce.
  • Extent: 279pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
  • File of correspondence consisting mainly of letters received by Limerick Chamber of Commerce from Chamber of Commerce Cork, and Chamber of Commerce of Dublin relating to co-ordination of efforts to improve mail services between Kingston, Cork, Limerick, and Holyhead Dublin.
  • Extent: c 13 Items
  • Access Rules: N.A.
  • File of correspondence relating mainly to the Irish Railways Commission (1922) and Great Southern and Western Railway Company (1916). Includes rough minutes of special railway committee formed by Limerick Chamber of Commerce; includes correspondence and circulars from the Irish Railway Commission regarding views on improving railway system; includes correspondence from Cork Chamber of Commerce regarding protest against Railway Companies for their practice of repudiating all responsibility for loss and damage to goods. Includes also letters and memoranda to James Mannix, Great Southern and Western Railway Company regarding malicious injury claims, public complaints, investigations into employee behaviour such as improper conduct and lateness, reports regarding damage to goods and wagons derailing. Includes also printed leaflets showing alterations to Great Southern and Western Railway train timetable from 1 October 1915
  • Extent: c 63 Items
  • Access Rules: N.A.
  • File relating to charges for electricity in Limerick city. Includes copies of resolutions passed by Limerick Citizens and Rate Papers Association, Limerick Development Association, and Chamber of Commerce in opposition to proposed increases in electricity charges in 1932; letters received from Department of Industry and Commerce; letters relating to management and control of the Shannon Scheme and to electricity charges in Sligo and Cork.
  • Extent: c 23 Items
  • Access Rules: N.A.

III. Ballot Books, 1830-1949

Ballot Books for the election of members to Limerick Chamber of Commerce. Includes date, name of individual nominated, name of qualified members who proposed and seconded the individual, signatures of members who voted and whether individual admitted or rejected. Nominee needed vote of 15 members to be elected.


  • Ballot Book 24 April 1830-27 March 1896
  • Extent: 193pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
  • Ballot Book 1 May 1813-14 February 1949. Includes printed notices of ballot for membership
  • Extent: 267pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.

IV. Return of Goods, 1807-1854

a. Corn Returns, 1818-1830

Corn returns books recording amount of corn purchased weekly. Entries note name of purchaser, the ledger folio and duties paid on 'wheat', 'barley', 'oats', and weekly totals. Notes in margin calculate average weekly returns, and record details of 'flour sold'.
Extent: 2 volumes

  • Corn returns book 2 January 1818-24 November 1820
  • Extent: 187ff
  • Access Rules: N.A.
  • Corn returns books 20 July 1826-29 August 1830
  • Extent: 277pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.

b. Exports Foreign and Coast Aways, 1807-1854

  • Volume with details of 'Exports Foreign' and 'Exports Coast ways' recorded chronologically at reverse ends of volume. Name of vessel, destination, merchants and details of cargo are recorded. Cargo details arranged by headings such as 'beef', 'pork', 'bacon', 'lard', 'butter', 'wheat', 'oats', 'barley', 'rapeseed', 'beans', 'oatmeal', 'hides', 'skins', 'feathers' and 'quills'. Destinations of 'exports foreign' include ports such as London, Lisbon and Portsmouth. Details of coast ways exports to ports such as Belfast and Dundalk, are recorded only until 1 May 1811.
  • Extent: 95pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
Volumes recording cargos exported on ships from Limerick to Irish and foreign ports between 1815 and 1854. The volumes are arranged chronologically, and the date, the name of vessel and master, tons, ports (destination) and shippers are recorded.

Details about the type and size of the cargo of each ship are also recorded under headings such as pork, beef, butter, bacon, lard, oats, beans, rape seed, flour, oatmeal, hides, skins, feathers, quills, spirits, cuts of ham, bones, linen and 'miscellaneous' or 'observations'.

Total exports are calculated at end of each page, and carried forward, and annual total exports are generally noted at year-end at 1 September. The first volume is titled 'Limerick Exports, Foreign and Coast ways', and subsequent volumes titled 'Limerick Exports'.
Extent: 5 volumes

PDF File:P1/35
  • P1/35. 20 June 1815-27 August 1829
  • Extent: 532pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
  • Includes summary of total exports 1829-1836
  • Extent: 559pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
  • P1/37. 1 April 1837-31 August 1846
  • Extent: 572pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
PDF File:P1/38
  • P1/38. 1 September 1846-6 September 1850
  • Extent: 99ff
  • Access Rules: N.A.

V. Financial Records, 1809-1886

a.Income, Expenditure and Members Payments Accounts, 1809-1886

  • Volume of accounts recording cargo duties paid by individual merchants and companies as members of the Chamber and payment of subscriptions by members. Volume arranged by name with entries recording date, name of ship, summary of cargo, and duties paid. The second half of the volume has accounts arranged per member, with entries recording total subscriptions paid per annum. Includes index to accounts.
  • Extent: 259pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
  • Income and Expenditure ledger which records the, date, sum, and description of payments made and sums received by the secretary of the Chamber. Income includes items such as subscriptions, rents and dividends. Payments include items such as 'wages', 'cleaning window', 'magazine', and 'repairing burst pipe. Includes annotations such as 'lodged' and 'no receipt'. Includes also list-detailing insurances effected on property of chamber of commerce, list of rents payable to the chamber, and list of members names and dates subscriptions received between 1890 and 1893.
  • Extent: 267ff
  • Access Rules: N.A.

Volumes with annual receipts and expenditure and members payments accounts of the Chamber of Commerce. Annual receipts and expenditure note income received and payments made by chamber. Entries under income include items such as 'subscriptions', 'dividends', and 'rents'.

Expenditure includes items such as 'newspapers', salary', 'general charges', and taxes. 'Members payments account lists name of member, and sum of subscriptions received from member, and annual total subscriptions received.

Includes occasional notes relating to members retired or admitted, or subscriptions over due. Member's payment account for year ended 29 September 1862 is not recorded. Accounts are annotated with 'examined and found correct', and the signatures of auditors, which generally include the President of the Chamber and the secretary.
Extent: 3 volumes

  • Volume with annual receipts and expenditure
  • Extent: 32pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
  • Volume with annual receipts and expenditure. Includes Assets and Liabilities Account for years ending 29 September 1862 and 1863
  • Extent: 76pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
  • Volume with annual receipts and expenditure, and members payments accounts of the Chamber of Commerce. Includes index to the accounts.
  • Extent: 55pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.
PDF File:P1/45. P1/45
  • Volume summarizing payments made by members to the Chamber between 1818 to 1843. Organized by members name.
  • Extent: 27pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.

b. Cash Books, 1808-1865

Cash Books of Limerick Chamber of Commerce recording date, sum, and purpose of cash paid out or received. Credit entries include sub headings such as 'by butter fund paid this month', 'by toll and custom fund paid', 'by hide and skin fund paid', by general fund' and entries relate mainly to payment of wages. Credit entries also include items such as 'by commercial building concerns paid waiter, coals, candles for coffee room' and 'by Maunsell and Kennedy (treasurers for the Chamber) -lodged'.

Debit entries include items such 'collection for two weeks, toll and custom fund', and 'to butter find, contributions for September', and 'import and export fund-contributions from 1 Decem[ber] to August'.
Extent: 6 volumes  

  • Cash Book of Limerick Chamber of Commerce. Includes signed accounts of payments made to inspectors employed by Chamber, butter trade account, and account with Maunsells and Kennedy
  • Extent: 161pp
  • Access Rules: N.A.