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James Comerford Papers

Identifier: MSS-0148

Scope and Contents

This collection includes the personal papers of James Comerford, with an emphasis on his personal life and his work related to writing a memoir of his time spent in the Irish Volunteers (IRA). His experience as a judge in the New York City Criminal Court system is also reflected through his correspondence and academic work.

The collection spans the years 1918 to 1984, with most records generated between the 1940s and 1970s. The records are comprised of textual documents and photographs, and include correspondence, biographical information, manuscript drafts, academic work, and a small number of publications. Correspondence is mostly personal in nature, with some correspondence related to Comerford's work as a judge and his leadership role in the Irish Press Corporation. The photographs primarily feature James and Vera Comerford at various events and a selection of portraits of James Comerford.

Comerford's records pertaining to his service to Irish-American organizations, especially the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the United Irish Counties Association, remain with MSS 0135 John Concannon and the Ancient Order of Hibernians Collection.


  • Creation: 1918-1984

Conditions Governing Access

Materials are available for research at the Msgr. William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center. Advance appointments are required for the use of archival materials.

Conditions Governing Use

All materials available in this collection (unless otherwise noted) are the property of the Monsignor William Noé Field Archives & Special Collections Center and Seton Hall University, which reserves the right to limit access to or reproduction of these materials. Reproduction of materials or content is subject to United States copyright restrictions and may be subject to federal or state privacy regulations. Permission to publish exact reproductions must be obtained from the Director of the Archives and Special Collections Center.

Biographical / Historical

James J. Comerford was a New York City Criminal Court judge and influential member of the Irish-American community. Comerford was born in 1901 in County Kilhenny, Ireland and served in the Irish Volunteers, from a member of the Junior IRA group, the Fianna Eireann, to captain of the Coon District IRA Company. In 1925, Comerford emigrated to America, where he received his undergraduate and masters degrees from Columbia University and a law degree from Fordham University. After becoming a lawyer in 1947, he worked as Assistant District Attorney until being appointed a judge in the Criminal Court of New York City in 1953, where he worked until 1971. While working as a judge, he earned his PhD in Public Administration from New York University.

Outside of his professional life, Comerford was actively involved in a number of Irish-American organizations – most notably as Chairman of the New York City St. Patrick’s Day Parade from 1965 to 1984. He became a member of the Ancient Order of Hibernians in 1936, and held offices including National President, New York County President, National Historian, and Editor of the National Hibernian Digest. He served as President of the County Kilkenny Society and the United Irish Counties Association, including ten years as Chairman of the United Irish Counties Association Feis Committee.

Comerford maintained a life-long interest in Irish and Irish-American issues. In 1978, he published a book about his time in the IRA, entitled “My Kilkenny IRA Days: 1916-22." He also served as President and Chairman of the Board of the Irish Press Corporation in the 1970s-1980s.

In 1944, Comerford married Vera Carr. They remained married until his death in 1988, and had no children.


2 Linear Feet (2 record cartons)

Language of Materials



Material is in good to very-good condition. The collection as given was roughly organized into folders. Records were kept together as much as possible to maintain original order at the file level, with minimal reorganization to keep materials within the appropriate series. Some materials were loose in boxes, which were grouped together topically for this collection. Each series within this finding aid has been arranged alphabetically or chronologically to aid in research. This collection is arranged into six series:

  1. Biographical Materials
  2. Correspondence
  3. Manuscripts
  4. Academic Work
  5. Photographs
  6. Publications

Preservica Internal URL

Preservica Public URL

Custodial History

The records in this collection were originally part of the MSS0135 John Concannon Collection accession. All materials from James Comerford related to the operations of the Ancient Order of Hibernians or other Irish-American organizations remain in MSS0135. This collection was created to feature James Comerford's personal papers, manuscripts, and photographs outside the scope of MSS0135.

Processing Information

Materials removed from the collection include government and legal reports, court system publications, and duplicates.


Quinn Christie
Language of description
Script of description
This collection was processed thanks to funding from the New Jersey Historical Commission FY22 Project Grant "Irish Immigrant Solidarity in New Jersey, 1870-Present."
  • TypeCollection

Repository Details

Part of the The Monsignor Field Archives & Special Collection Center Repository

Archives, Walsh Library
400 South Orange Ave
South Orange NJ 07079 US