Inspiring Ireland Brings the Public and Private Stories of 1916 to the World

At a busy launch today (Tuesday January 19) in the Royal Irish Academy, Minister of State for the Diaspora, Jimmy Deenihan TD., reveals an exciting new phase of the Digital Repository of Ireland’s Inspiring Ireland project – a fresh series of exhibits focusing on the known and not-so-known stories of people and events surrounding the Rising that will be brought to life online over the first six months of 2016 as part of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme.

Inspiring Ireland 1916: Weaving Public and Private Narratives uses fascinating objects — digitised photos, diaries, posters, aural recordings, video, and ephemera — to tell the stories that surround the Rising, and paint a picture of everyday lives in 1916. Combining expert narrative with iconic objects from the National Archives of Ireland, the National Library of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland and RTÉ Archives alongside ‘found’ objects from private collections, Inspiring Ireland 1916 creates a dynamic, multi-media reflection on the people, events, and legacy of 1916.

Commenting on the launch, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D., said:

“I am delighted to see that the role of women in the Rising will be the topic of the first in this latest series of online exhibitions being rolled out as part of the Inspiring Ireland project. Digital resources, such as Inspiring Ireland, are helping us to explore the events of 1916 in accessible and innovative ways, helping us to share our history with a global audience. With its unique mix of material from members of the public and our cultural institutions, I have no doubt that Inspiring Ireland will continue to reveal fascinating new material on 1916 as we move through the centenary year.”

Officially launching the new series of exhibitions, Minister Deenihan said: “It gives me tremendous pride to launch this new phase of Inspiring Ireland, dedicated to telling the stories of 1916, from both private and public collections. These exhibits are truly revealing Ireland at its best, and by bringing them together in one online space, we allow people to participate in commemorating the events and lives of 1916 from wherever they may currently reside, with whatever connection brings them to explore the history of this island. Through these new exhibits, which importantly, allow the public to contribute content alongside known artefacts, the Digital Repository of Ireland is continuing the crucial work of preserving and sharing our national cultural heritage for many generations to come.”

At today’s launch, Dr. Natalie Harrower, the Digital Repository of Ireland’s Director, reveals the schedule of exhibitions, which begins with stories of Women and the Rising:

“By combining public content cared for by Ireland’s national cultural institutions with private items shared by members of the public via our national and international Collection Days, Inspiring Ireland 1916 is able to  show a side of the Rising that is not as well documented. In our first exhibition, we use the lens of women’s lives to explore class, politics, grief and survival through this remarkable period in Irish history. And this is just the start of the stories that have inspired Ireland through the Rising.”

Inspiring Ireland 1916 will also unveil exhibitions that use brand new sources; for example, the witness testimonies of British soldiers sent to quell the fighting in Dublin, and official compensation claims for damaged property from businesses and individuals – including artists Jack B. Yeats and Harry Clarke.

“The Digital Repository of Ireland is delighted to be able to expand the Inspiring Ireland project to share new discoveries, and the artefacts and stories that surround them, alongside important existing memories from our treasured cultural institutions” added Dr. Harrower.

The interpretive essays have been written by leading Irish and international historians of 1916 and its legacy, among them Professor Senia Paseta, University of Oxford who has provided the commentary for the first exhibit on women’s lives.

“Inspiring Ireland is a wonderful addition to the 2016 commemorations, bringing beautifully curated images and themes of 1916 to life for everyone across the world to enjoy. Working together with the Digital Repository of Ireland and the other custodians of primary sources such as RTÉ Archives, the National Museum and the National Archives shows the variety and richness of these online exhibitions” added Dr. Sandra Collins, Director of the National Library of Ireland, and Chair of Inspiring Ireland’s Steering Group.


Inspiring Ireland is built on the preservation infrastructure of the Digital Repository of Ireland, which means that digital objects are preserved for long term access and discovery, ensuring Ireland’s digital cultural heritage will be available when the next centenary rolls around in another hundred years.



Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, 23 Kildare Street, Dublin , D02 TD30. Tel: 01 631 3800 / LoCall: 1890 383 000

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