Tim Cadogan RIP Fellow CGS.

Tim Cadogan passed away on 1 August 2014 after a long illness. Tim spent most of his

working life as an Executive Librarian at Cork County Library, specialising in local history.

His mastery of this area of scholarship, I believe, was attained not only by his natural interest

in the subject, but also spurred on by his desire to satisfy those who called to the Library to

look for assistance.

Reminiscing on his career in the County Library service a few years ago, Tim recounted

a number of stages in his development as a local historian. In the mid-1970s when he

first started handling queries on family history, he said that he found the expectations of

the enquirer were low and easily satisfied. The main difficulty at that time was the ever

increasing volume of inquiries. In the 1980s he had to cope with a new phenomenon, the

overseas visitors who had done their homework. Of this period Tim said: ‘for the first time,

the exchange of information became two way and researchers made a greater contribution in

the course of the 1980s to my education in genealogy and emigration patterns than I made

to theirs.’ The 1980s was also a time when the public library’s reference services came

increasingly under greater demands in other information areas such as academic studies and

business information. Tim had to widen the scope of his interests and worked hard to get on

top of these areas as well.

By the advent of the 1990s, after his demanding apprenticeship, Tim emerged as the

undisputed master of Cork historical records. His phenomenal knowledge of the county

was widely recognised. A 1994 magazine article on the resources of Cork County Library

stated: ‘The chief source of genealogical information [at Cork County Library] is Tim

Cadogan himself. He has a comprehensive knowledge of the Geography and history of Cork

and has a reputation for being able to dig up something new for most of the many researchers

who call in to him. ‘

Through the 1990s and into the Third Millennium, Tim’s reputation travelled far and

wide. Family history researchers, from Britain, Canada, USA, Australia, New Zealand,

indeed from most parts of the world, had a path worn to the County Library to pick his

brains on their particular research interest. Tim made the following comment on one such

incident: ‘Contacts with the roots phenomenon has been the source of some happy and

memorable moments for me. I recall, from many such occasions, an afternoon when I helped

an Irish-American Jesuit priest to locate his ancestral family in the tithe books for Bere

Island. When success came, he gave an unclerical whoop of joy and danced a jig round the

microfilm viewer.’

As well as dealing with those who called in to him, Tim also kept up a huge correspondence

in his neat, legible handwriting, with those who mailed queries to him. Though much of his

work was done at the Library, Tim normally carried a briefcase back and forth from work to

home with him and I suspect that he spent much of his spare time on research queries.

From the early 1990s, half the books published about Cork included in the

acknowledgements section the sentence: ‘I would also like to thank Tim Cadogan...’ The

following sentence from Seán Beecher’s A Dictionary of Cork Slang is typical: ‘I could

not have completed the book without the help and co-operation of Tim Cadogan of the

Cork County Library. He provided me with books, suggested many sources, and was

always patient and courteous.’ With regard to the Cork books in which Tim’s help was not

acknowledged, it was often the case that the authors had simply forgotten to thank him: ‘he

weighed so lightly what he gave.’

Despite the huge amount of time Tim dedicated to other people’s research, he managed

to give talks to historical societies throughout Cork, to produce articles, and to co-found

and remain a pillar of the Cork Genealogical Society. Tim also wrote and co-wrote books,

notably, A Biographical Dictionary of Cork (with Jeremiah Falvey).

Tom Crowley, one of Tim’s old friends from the USA, commented when he heard the

news of Tim’s death: ‘My thought this morning: that he passed away without the several

books that were in his being, that we will never see.’ I’m sure those who knew Tim would

concur. But, perhaps on second thoughts, if Tim had spent more of his time writing books,

it would have meant rowing back on the help he dispensed so freely to all those who asked.

Essentially, Tim was an inspirational research facilitator and that is what set him apart from

all others in the field of local history where an obsession, often selfish, with a narrow topic is

the norm.

My abiding memory of Tim is chatting to him in the local history room of the old County

Library while he sits at his large wooden desk, covered, of course, with an array of books,

maps, letters and papers of all kinds. Several people are loitering near the bookshelves or

seated at the tables, pretending an interest in various publications but really waiting for an

opportunity to talk to Tim. More often than not, I am one of the pretenders myself waiting

for my chance. During my many periods of waiting, I’ve had ample opportunity to observe

Tim engaged in his work. Whether it was a ten year old primary school pupil doing a project

for her teacher, or an academic trying to access some obscure historical data, Tim gave the

same politeness, the same respect, the same undivided attention. He gave as much time as

each person required (much to the annoyance of those waiting!). Often, before concluding,

he would rush off to ransack some library shelves and hand over some books, periodicals or

photocopies before concluding and moving on to the next person.

Tim’s requiem mass was held in the magnificent St Coleman’s Cathedral in Cobh: how

appropriate. From the Great Famine to the mid-twentieth century, Cobh was the main point

of departure for the tens of thousands forced by economic reasons to emigrate from Ireland.

As they sailed out of Cork Harbour, the spire of St Coleman’s was the last piece of Ireland

most of them ever saw. Many of those who came to Tim for help were the descendants of

such emigrants, yearning to reconnect to their Irish roots. Tim was the man who helped them

make the link. He provided them with their Irish credentials. He will be missed.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam dílis.

Tony McCarthy

3 August 2014

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