Taoiseach launches 1916 Virtual Tour and Commemoration Exhibitions on Google Cultural Institute as part of Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme

  •  Dublin Rising 1916-2016 is a virtual city streets tour exploring the iconic places, people and stories of 100 years ago, narrated by actor Colin Farrell
  • 1916 Exhibitions and artefacts from six prestigious cultural institutions
  • Interactive experience brings 1916 events to life for people around the world

Dublin, Ireland, 12 January 2016:  Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD the Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys TD, were at Google today for the launch of Dublin Rising 1916-2016, an interactive Google Street View tour, narrated by actor Colin Farrell, which lets visitors virtually explore the city streets, events and people who shaped history 100 years ago.  The tour was developed by Google in partnership with Ireland 2016, with expert advice from a dedicated team of archivists and historians, and resources from some of our National Cultural Institutions, museums and academic institutions. The virtual tour and exhibitions will allow millions of people around the world to share in Ireland’s 2016 commemorations and learn more about the 1916 uprising right from their phone, tablet or computer.

Throughout the tour, visitors will stop at city centre locations as they are today, hear what happened there and click to explore photos, videos, stories and witness statements from the Dublin of 1916. As a person stands looking at the GPO of today, for example, they’ll see the GPO as it was 100 years ago, destroyed by shell fire.  They’ll hear witness statements from rebels who fought there and hear stories of all the people involved.  All artefacts in the tour have been curated by the National Library, Military Archives, Glasnevin Cemetery Museum, the Abbey Theatre, the Royal Irish Academy, and Trinity College Dublin Library alongside Century Ireland.

Speaking at the launch, Taoiseach Enda Kenny, TD said:2016 is an important year that allows us to explore and understand the events not only of 1916, but the subsequent events that led to the establishment of our independent state.  In acknowledging our past, we are creating stronger foundations for a more vibrant and shared future.  I want to congratulate Google, Ireland 2016 and the cultural partners who have come together to create this unique online experience. They are enabling all the people of Ireland, the diaspora and others around the world to commemorate, learn about and explore the events of 1916 and the 100 years since then and to celebrate the country we are today.”

Ronan Harris, VP and Head of Google Ireland said; “2016 is a significant year for Ireland, commemorating as it does the events of 1916 which subsequently led to the birth of the modern Ireland we are today. In commemoration, we have worked with a number of partners and historians to help people in Ireland and around the world, explore, learn and talk about the people, events, places and objects that shaped these defining events. Google is about giving everyone access to the best information, culture and experiences through technology and this tour gives people a way to peel back the layers of history and experience what life was like 100 years ago in Ireland.”

Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht Heather Humphreys TD., added: “The Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme has been a hugely collaborative effort, so I was delighted that we were able to team up with Google to produce this amazing interactive historical tour. Getting Colin Farrell on board was a huge boost to the project; his international star power will no doubt encourage people from right around the world to go online to check out one of the most important periods in Irish history in an exciting and interactive way. Making material from our Cultural Institutions available via Google’s Cultural Institute will also open up our history to a huge global audience. I would like to thank everyone at Google who provided their expertise to make this exciting project a reality.”

Colin Farrell, Actor, said: “Travelling and working all over the world means that I don’t get to go home to Ireland very often so anything I can do to get home, even virtually, is a blessing.  Growing up in Dublin, the events of 1916 are a key part of our schooling and culture and I’m glad now that anyone around the world can learn more about it and see why it had such an impact on modern day Ireland just by picking up their phone or computer.”

Most of the artefacts featured in the tour will also be available for anyone to explore in virtual exhibitions on Google’s Cultural Institute. The exhibitions will tell the stories of the people who were involved, from the women rebels of Cumann na mBan, to the messengers who carried information around the city; from members of the British forces in Ireland, to the leaders of the Rising.

The Google Cultural Institute, which partners with hundreds of museums, art galleries and archives around the world, aims to make important cultural material available and accessible to everyone, and to digitally preserve this material in order to educate and inspire future generations.

Dublin Rising 1916-2016 Tour can be accessed at: https://dublinrising.withgoogle.com/welcome/


Editors Notes:

The Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme, led by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, T.D., is a year-long programme of activity to commemorate the events of the 1916 Rising, to reflect on our achievements over the last 100 years and to look towards Ireland’s future.  The programme includes seven strands: State Ceremonial; Historical Reflection; An Teanga Bheo/The Living Language; Youth and Imagination; Cultural Expression; Community Participation; Global and Diaspora. Full details are available at www.ireland.ie

Partner Quotes

Royal Irish Academy

“The Royal Irish Academy invites you to explore Thomas J. Westropp’s images of Dublin streets in the aftermath of the Rising and presents an opportunity to see how contemporary artist David Rooney created 42 new portraits of key people involved in the Rising, the subject of our publication 1916 Portraits and Lives and of a forthcoming exhibition at Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin.” Ruth Hegarty, Managing Editor at the Royal Irish Academy

National Library

“The National Library’s existing partnership with the Google Cultural Institute has helped us share our wonderful treasures with audiences worldwide. Combining digital innovation with our nation’s cultural and social heritage allows us to share the story of 1916 with the world.”

Dr Sandra Collins, Director of the National Library of Ireland

Abbey Theatre

“We are delighted to launch The Abbey Theatre and The Easter Rising, 1916, our first exhibit with Google Cultural Institute. While making the Abbey Theatre Archive accessible online to a worldwide audience, this exhibition looks at the influence of the Irish Literary Revival in the lead up to the events of Easter Week 1916. It also remembers the contribution of Abbey Theatre Company members and the significant impact of the Rising on the Abbey Theatre’s operations. Finally it recalls the 50th anniversary commemorations at the Abbey Theatre. We greatly look forward to continuing our partnership with Google and to connecting with our audience both through online projects and through our commitment to our international theatre touring programme in 2016.” Oonagh Desire, Abbey Theatre Director of Public Affairs & Advancement

Glasnevin Cemetery

“Glasnevin Trust is delighted to be partnering with such a ground-breaking and innovative platform like the Google Cultural Institute. The world’s most iconic paintings, sculptures, photographs and artefacts are available to view on this platform, and now some of 1916’s most historically iconic exhibits from the Glasnevin Museum will join them.

The centenary year of 1916 is not just a time of reflection but should be used as a means to further educate ourselves in our rich and often conflicted history. Initiatives like the Cultural Institute are invaluable to communicating our history and heritage as they not only further display our artefacts to the Irish public but will allow them to reach new audiences globally.” Conor Dodd, Lead Historian, Glasnevin Cemetery

Trinity College Dublin Library

“The Library of Trinity College Dublin is for the second time partnering with Google Cultural Institute to create a free, easy-to-use online resource for anybody with an interest in Irish history. The last successful collaboration related to the First World War; it was so popular that Trinity is delighted to work together again and this time we have focused on the ‘Dublin Rising 1916-2016’. It might come as a surprise just how large and how rich Trinity’s 1916 research collection is. Very early on, the Library decided that one of the best ways to commemorate the Rising was to find ways to share these heritage materials with anyone who wanted to see them. That’s what great Libraries do − mind and share national memory and that’s what we are doing today. Out of a wide range of unique, never-before-seen artefacts we are offering, through Google, access to the amazing Westropp photographs of the destruction of the physical centre of Dublin city a century ago. These images bring vividly to life the impact of the Rising on everyday life in Dublin. Furthermore, we are also including our copy of the Proclamation which has a great back-story. A British army officer is said to have taken it from the very walls of the GPO in the aftermath of the Rising. The significance of these contributions to the Google Cultural Institute   once again demonstrates the Library’s ongoing commitment to increasing open access to national heritage materials.” Helen Shenton, Librarian and College Archivist

Some Tour Highlights

  • GPO – this tour location features one of the only photographs taken inside the GPO during the Rising itself of Irish Volunteers and Irish Citizen Army soldiers. [source Military Archives]
  • City Hall – A stark reminder of the bloodshed involved, and its aftermath for citizens and government workers, at this location you can view an image of a handbill issued by the Administration in Dublin Castle instructing people to report any dead bodies to the Chief Medical Officer. [source National Library of Ireland]
  • St. Stephen’s Green – watch a clip from British Pathé of cheering crowds at the release of Countess Markievicz from prison in 1917. Many participants and leaders who did not perish at the time of the Rising, went on to play a key role in the foundation of the state (e.g. Markievicz, WT Cosgrave, de Valera)
  • Moore Street – read a letter from Joseph Plunkett to his fiancée Grace Gifford, dated the “6th Day of the Irish Republic. About noon. Somewhere in Moore St.” In it he writes “Darling, Darling child I wish we were together. Love me always as I love you”. Joseph was given permission to marry Grace just before his execution at Kilmainham Gaol in May 1916 [source National Library of Ireland]
  • Kilmainham Gaol – read Thomas MacDonagh’s farewell letter to his wife Muriel Gifford MacDonagh. He writes “god help and sustain you, my love. But for your suffering, this would be all joy and glory. Goodbye”. He is so resolute even when facing death that he did the right thing. [source National Library of Ireland]
  • Location: Various – For the first time statements from witness to the Rising, courtesy of the Military Archives, have been brought to life by contemporary actors. These statements demonstrate so many parts and emotions of those who were there. The violence and brutality, “Volunteers were being shot down everywhere”; the grief which gripped so many in the aftermath, this statement is from Geraldine Dillon, sister of Joseph Plunkett, “he saw him standing in the rain below his window in the barrack square. He knew he was to be shot, and they gazed at each other for about half-an-hour before Joe was moved off”. Witness statements bring the Rising to life by sharing some of the lesser known more human moments. One witness recalls seeing “Padraig Pearse and James Connolly sitting on high stools in a little enclosure in the middle of the main hall drinking tea and eating sandwiches” in the GPO. And a claim that “some members of the unit were not taking their fair share of the risks at the barricades, that they preferred to remain with the Cumann na mBan in the kitchen rather than go out and risk their necks”. [source Military Archives]


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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