Explore Your Archive: Connect with the Past

The public is getting in touch with its past this week as archives remind us their documents, photos and other objects belong to the people of Ireland.

By Niall Murray, Irish Examiner


A British army soldier stands guard over republican prisoners at Dublin Castle. Picture: Hulton Archive


Many events and exhibitions are online, making them accessible from anywhere. But visitors to other repositories can get up close to manuscripts and rare images created decades or even centuries ago.


The Explore Your Archive campaign, running until next Sunday, aims to encourage people to discover the stories, facts, places and people at the heart of Irish communities. It is also intended to create awareness of what researchers can discover using archives, the basis around which most history is written.


While they are just a fraction of the collections highlighted, the 1916 Rising is a common theme in many events. Marsh’s Library in Dublin explores the experiences of minorities in its ‘1916: Tales from the Other Side’ exhibition.


The events in Cork before, during and after the Easter Rising are described in the important diaries of one of the city’s first TDs, Liam de Róiste. They have been fully digitised on the website of Cork City and County Archives, which also shared photos in its Wilkie Collection of day-to-day life in the city over a century ago.

“From letters, reports, minutes, registers and maps to photographs, films, sound recordings and digital files and websites, Ireland’s archives hold something of interest and inspiration to everyone,” said Felix Meehan, Archives and Records Association Ireland’s research officer.

“We want to emphasise, in particular, the growing importance of the digitisation of records and the harvesting of information published online,” he said.


The IFI has launched its Irish Film Archive, one of several online exhibitions and digitised collections featuring in the Explore Your Archive( EYA) campaign.


EYA 2016 ambassador Catherine Murphy TD said: “All materials stored in our public archives belong to the people of Ireland and are freely available for consultation by all,” she said.

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