Minister Humphreys announces funding for National Library of Ireland project under new cultural Digitisation Scheme

The Minister for Culture, Heritage, and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, has today announced funding for the National Library of Ireland’s project Towards a Republic, under the new cultural Digitisation Scheme. 

The Minister has approved over €2m for the new cultural Digitisation Scheme, which will fund a number of digitisation projects planned by National Cultural Institutions and cultural heritage organisations. It will operate as a pilot scheme as part of the Creative Ireland Programme.

Towards a Republic is the National Library’s next major cataloguing and digitisation project, marking the second phase of the Decade of Commemorations from 1917 to 1923. It will see the digitisation of some of the personal papers of the signatories of The Treaty in preparation for the centenary of the foundation of the State.

The digitised papers will be made openly available online on a phased basis between 2018 and 2023, and the National Library will publicise each major tranche of papers as they become available in its digital repository. These rich archives reveal the social, cultural and political context of the period, enabling everyone to explore key moments such as suffrage, 1918 Elections, the First and subsequent Dáils, the Peace Conference, the Anglo-Irish War, the Treaty negotiations, and the Civil War.

Personal papers of John Devoy, Arthur Griffith, Rosamond Jacob, Annie O’Farrelly, John Redmond and the Sheehy Skeffingtons, amongst many others, provide complex insights into the events and personalities that shaped the later revolutionary period and Civil War. They go beyond the experience and perspectives of the individuals themselves through their correspondence and interaction with diverse and opposing figures and organisations.

Speaking today Minister Humphreys said:

“I am very pleased to be in a position to provide funding for the National Library of Ireland’s project ‘Towards a Republic’, as part of a wider cultural Digitisation Scheme. I know that there is a large public appetite for these materials, which will reveal the social, cultural and political context of the period. 

“The importance of digitisation was really underlined during the 2016 centenary year, when a number of our National Cultural Institutions made a wealth of material available online for the first time. This new Scheme will help our Cultural Institutions, together with a number of other cultural heritage bodies, to build on this work and digitise their rich and varied collections for the benefit of the public.”

Director of the National Library of Ireland, Dr Sandra Collins, said:

“We are delighted that we will be able to share these extraordinary papers online thanks to special funding from Minister Humphreys. The next phase of the Commemorations will be challenging for Irish people, and having open access to the archival sources will be hugely important to ground and guide the debate and discussion. The National Library is the keeper of these national and personal memories of a turbulent time in our history, and we look forward to sharing them with everyone.”

Minister Humphreys will make further announcements in relation to projects approved for funding under the cultural Digitisation Scheme in the coming weeks.

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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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