Welcome to the DRI Blog

If you're familiar with our work, then you've seen our Publications page, which includes formal reports and guidelines, as well as brief Factsheets and links to presentations on our Slideshare account. This blog will complement our Publications, and also provides a venue for different kinds of considerations.


Research as Evidence: how the Boston College case exposes challenges to protecting sensitive research data

Aileen O'Carroll, DRI Policy Manager

The Belfast Project/Boston College legal case, which continues to feature in court-cases and journalistic articles, highlights the pressing need for researchers’ privilege. Like journalistic privilege, this ‘privilege’ would provide legal protection for academic researchers, preventing them from being compelled to disclose confidential information or sources contacted in the course of their academic work. This protection would enable researchers to gather data on sensitive topics and to meet their ethical obligations to protect their interviewees from harm. Without such legal protections in place the work of researchers will be curtailed and the work of archives such as the Digital Repository of Ireland will be severely limited. The knowledge we have about our world will be biased towards the mainstream narrative. We will only know a partial story.



Developing guidelines for ISAD(G) and Encoded Archival Description

by Rebecca Grant, DRI Digital Archivist

We at the DRI are very pleased to launch our newest set of guidelines,EAD, ISAD(G) and the Digital Repository of Ireland. These are the latest in our series of metadata guidelines which currently includes Dublin Core, Qualified Dublin Core and MODS. The guidelines aim to provide accessible, straightforward instructions on creating metadata which is compatible with the DRI, as well as conforming to the relevant metadata standards.

ISAD(G) is the descriptive standard used to create finding aids for archival collections, while EAD is the XML standard which encodes it. Our requirements interviews and subsequent report Digital Archiving in Ireland identified ISAD(G) and EAD as the second most prevalent metadata standards used in Irish organisations, along with Dublin Core, MODS and MARC. As the Repository encourages  the deposit of data from a range of stakeholders including libraries, archives, museums, galleries and research projects, we decided that it was important that the relevant metadata standards from each domain were supported.



Inspiring Ireland 1916 blog: Trenches...Hell...Biscuits: From the Rising to the battlefields of France in 1916

by Damien Burke, Irish Jesuit Archives

A new blog reflecting on the Inspiring Ireland 1916 digital exhibitions, A Closer Look at Inspiring Ireland 1916 Objects, has been launched. Inspiring Ireland 1916 is the next phase of the multiple-award-winning cultural heritage resource Inspiring Ireland. It presents a brand new series of exhibitions of cultural artefacts, stories and interpretation that surround the events of 1916. The latest blog post, by assistant archivist at the Irish Jesuit Archives, Damien Burke, takes a modern art installation inspired by the tobacconist shop once owned by 1916 Proclamation signatory Tom Clarke, as the starting point for examining diaries and correspondence of 'ordinary people and everyday heroes' - the padres and soldiers who experienced the horrors of war together in France in 1916. The contents revealed a hidden history linking Belvedere College, the Jesuit-run alma mater of 1916 Rising leader Joseph Plunkett, with Rita Duffy the artist who created 'The Souvenir Shop' for the Arts Council Ireland 2016 programme.

From April to June 2016, number 13 North Great George’s Street, Dublin was transformed into an art installation, styled as a shop. ‘The Souvenir Shop’ created by Rita Duffy and curated by Helen Carey, took inspiration from the tobacconist shop once owned by the 1916 Proclamation signatory, Tom Clarke. In this Georgian townhouse, Duffy reappraised the legacy of 1916 by presenting ‘souvenirs’ for sale that facilitate a reaction in the customer. By purchasing souvenirs such as ‘Free State’ jam, ‘Rise Up: Reach for a new Republic’ baking soda and Mexican graveside candles of Patrick Pearse, the customer is complicit in fulfilling the shop’s  raison d'être. The humour and irony in the ‘skewed meanings juxtaposed against original function’ seek to question our attitudes towards violence, commemoration, economics, gender and power.

A few doors up from number 13, at the top of North Great George’s Street, is Belvedere House, the home of Belvedere College SJ. In 1916, twenty-four past pupils of the Jesuit-run Belvedere College were involved in the Rising, on both sides. Joseph Mary Plunkett on the rebel side and Reginald Clery, a member of the Georgius Rex Brigade (or “Gorgeous Wrecks” to the Dublin wags) on the British side, both died in the Rising.



Inspiring Ireland 1916 blog: Bulmer Hobson, Easter's Forgotten Militant

by Dr Timothy G. McMarron, Marquette University

A new blog reflecting on the Inspiring Ireland 1916 digital exhibitions, A Closer Look at Inspiring Ireland 1916 Objects, has been launched. Inspiring Ireland 1916 is the next phase of the multiple-award-winning cultural heritage resource Inspiring Ireland. It presents a brand new series of exhibitions of cultural artefacts, stories and interpretation that surround the events of 1916. The latest blog post, by social historian and author Dr. Timothy G. McMahon, Department of History, Marquette University (Wisconsin, USA), tells the intriguing and previously overlooked story of John Bulmer Hobson, who was central to the development of nationalism in Ulster, yet, on the eve of the Rising, found himself imprisoned in a terraced house in Phibsborough, Dublin guarded by fellow Irish Republican Brotherhood members. This post is based on Dr. McMahon’s  talk at the Inspiring Ireland 1916 event in the Royal Irish Academy on Easter Monday (March 28) 2016, which was part of RTE’s 1916 centenary commemorative programme 'Reflecting the Rising'.

Perhaps the least known major contributor to the revolutionary movement in early twentieth-century Ireland, John Bulmer Hobson (1883-1969) nevertheless deserves recognition for his part in building up the organizations that coalesced in the late-1910s. Undoubtedly his relative obscurity stemmed from his loss of face within the republican movement in the run-up to the Easter Rising of 1916, but prior to that point, this would-be artist, journalist, and political strategist and activist connected colleagues in his native Ulster with those based in Dublin. Born in Belfast to Quaker parents, Bulmer Hobson drew political inspiration from a variety of influences. His father Benjamin had supported Gladstonian Home Rule, while his mother Mary Ann was a suffragist whose friends included the republicans Anna Johnston and Alice Milligan, editors of the newspaper Shan Van Vocht. Milligan introduced the teenaged Bulmer to the works of Standish O’Grady and inspired him to participate in a variety of organizations associated with the emerging cultural nationalist movement. These bodies included both the Gaelic League and the Gaelic Athletic Association, in whose ranks Hobson thrived and encountered other like-minded young people, including Dennis McCullough, with whom he struck up a vital working friendship. McCullough, whose father had been a leading member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood in Belfast, initiated Hobson into the IRB in 1904. Together, they recruited a young migrant from County Leitrim, Sean MacDiarmada, into the IRB as well. Along with Patrick McCartan, a Tyrone-born medical student, this group of young men played a major role in reinvigorating the largely moribund IRB alongside the veteran Fenian Tom Clarke, who returned to Ireland from the USA in 1907.



Inspiring Ireland 1916 blog: The cultural cost of 1916

by Dr. Kathryn Milligan, National Gallery of Ireland

A new blog reflecting on the Inspiring Ireland 1916 digital exhibitions, A Closer Look at Inspiring Ireland 1916 Objects, has been launched. Inspiring Ireland 1916 is the next phase of the multiple-award-winning cultural heritage resource Inspiring Ireland. It presents a brand new series of exhibitions of cultural artefacts, stories and interpretation that surround the events of 1916. The latest blog post, by Dr Kathryn Milligan, inaugural ESB Fellow at the ESB Centre for the Study of Irish Art at the National Gallery of Ireland, reflects on the cultural cost of 1916 by shedding light on a sensory world of furniture, textiles, and artworks that perished when the Royal Hibernian Academy building on Lower Abbey Street, Dublin was destroyed during Easter Week 1916. By delving into the compensation applications files of the Property Losses (Ireland) Committee, and others that also form part of the National Archives of Ireland collection in Inspiring Ireland 1916, she paints a previously unseen picture of Academy House and tells some of the hidden stories behind what was lost in the fire and the connections between Dublin and a global artistic economy.

On the 27 April, 1916, a shell fired from the Helga set alight a barricade on Lower Abbey Street. The blaze spread along the street, engulfing the premises of the Royal Hibernian Academy (RHA), then hosting its Annual Exhibition. Over five hundred works of art were on display, all of which were destroyed, along with the Academy’s holdings of fine art prints, books, and other materials. Claims by the Academy and its artists in the Property Losses (Ireland) Committee (PLIC) archive are vital documents in which the material world of the early twentieth-century Academy is captured, evoking the artistic milieu to be found in Dublin at this time. In his afterword to the recent publication, Making 1916: Material and Visual Culture of the Easter Rising, Nicholas Allen noted that ‘if the archive represents a material repository of historical experience, then the history of lost or destroyed objects, as may be recovered only in memory or in fragments, is imaginable in a language of sensation.’[1] This sensory world, conjured up by the descriptions of furniture, textiles and artworks are not only records of what was lost, but a reminder of the connections between Dublin and a global artistic economy. In addition to the property and goods owned by the RHA itself, the paintings lost to the flames also reflect the multifaceted interests and lives of the exhibitors: while all broadly academic rather than modernist in artistic technique, the different claims show that artists connected to empire, to the nationalist movement, those displaced by the First World War, collectors and enthusiastic amateurs, were brought together in the broad church of the Annual Exhibition.



Inspiring Ireland 1916 blog: Art O'Murnaghan's Leabhar na hAiséirighe (The Book of Resurrection)

by Dr. Kayla Rose, Bath Spa University

A new blog reflecting on the Inspiring Ireland 1916 digital exhibitions, A Closer Look at Inspiring Ireland 1916 Objects, has been launched. Inspiring Ireland 1916 is the next phase of the multiple-award-winning cultural heritage resource Inspiring Ireland. It presents a brand new series of exhibitions of cultural artefacts, stories and interpretation that surround the events of 1916. The first entry in the blog considers Art O'Murnaghan's illuminated manuscript Leabhar na hAiséirighe, a page of which features in Inspiring Ireland 1916. (The entire book can be seen as part of the National Musuem of Ireland's 'Proclaiming a Republic' exhibition). 

Commissioned by the Irish Republican Memorial Committee (IRMC), Leabhar na hAiséirighe was completed in three stages between 1924 and 1951. Combining Irish mythology with the people, places and events from the Easter Rising and the subsequent fight for independence, O’Murnaghan’s work echoes the traditional style of Celtic art and Irish manuscript illumination without ever being a mere copy. In 1882, Douglas Hyde said, 'Celtic art is the best claim we have upon the world’s recognition of us as a separate nationality,' and throughout the nineteenth - and early twentieth - centuries, Ireland’s artists and writers revived its past glories to commemorate moments in its present. Along with many of his contemporaries, it seems that O’Murnaghan took these ideas to heart. 



DAH Blog: Reflections on the DPC Student Conference

by Orla Egan (DAH Student)

On 22 January 2016, a student from the Digital Arts and Humanities (DAH) PhD programme, Orla Egan, attended the Digital Preservation Coalition’s annual Student Conference, facilitated by a scholarship granted by the DAH programme and the Digital Repository of Ireland. The conference title was 'What I Wish I Knew Before I Started' and during the one-day event, invited speakers discussed the types of skills and tools that can come in useful for institutions and individuals developing a digital preservation strategy.

In a blog posted on the DAH website, Orla reflects on the conference and its relevance to her experience as a Digital Humanities student. She summarises the talks given by each presenter, discusses the resources and tools currently available and highlights the essential steps of digital preservation that can be taken at any stage. 



‘Tell Your Story’: documenting the 1916 Rising through public memorabilia collection days

by Caroline McGee

Irish people are globally renowned for being confident, eloquent storytellers. Marry that talent with a love of drama and a strong collective memory of historical events and the past comes alive. Telling the story of the 1916 Rising is an important element of the second stage of Inspiring Ireland, an interactive online resource that preserves and exhibits our national cultural assets and makes them accessible to a wide audience.

Inspiring Ireland 1916 brings public memorabilia and the extensive collections of 1916 material held in Irish cultural institutions – the National Library, National Archives, National Museum, and RTE - together in one place. It presents high quality digital images of both familiar and lesser-known material alongside rich contextual interpretation provided by national and international historians. This will allow users to discover and make personal connections with the material and deepen their knowledge of the revolutionary period.  Exhibitions will go online on a rolling basis between January and May 2016. The first exhibition charts the experience of women during the Rising and showcases objects, documents, and ephemera that illustrate the ways in which everyday lives were impacted as a consequence of the fighting during Easter Week.

One practical way of creating digital content is to hold a community collection day to gather 1916-related memorabilia. This involves members of the public telling the story of their objects which are then photographed and documented before being returned to them. This blogpost describes what takes place at an Inspiring Ireland 1916 public memorabilia collection day.



Magdalene Oral History Collection published

by Ruth Geraghty

The newly published ‘Magdalene Oral History collection’ makes available testimonies from people that were both directly and indirectly involved with the Magdalene institutions, including survivors of the Magdalene Laundries, relatives, key informants (such as paid hands and medical staff), members of the religious orders, regular visitors and anyone else who had a story to tell that relates to these institutions. In Ireland, Magdalene Laundries were institutions operated by religious orders in which women, called ‘penitents’, worked at laundry and other for-profit enterprises, although they were never paid for their labour and were denied freedom of movement. The last Magdalene institution ceased operating as a commercial laundry on 25 October 1996.

The Magdalene Oral History Project was a Government of Ireland Collaborative Research Project and was funded by the Irish Research Council. The overall objective of the project was to contribute towards a better understanding of the system of Magdalene institutions that existed in Ireland in the twentieth century. Personal testimonies from informants, including 35 survivors, were gathered as part of the research project ‘Magdalene Institutions: Recording an Oral and Archival History’ that was led by Dr Katherine O’Donnell, then the Director of the Women’s Studies Centre at University College Dublin now in UCD’s School of Philosophy and her research team, Dr Sinead Pembroke and Claire McGettrick. Over the coming months these oral histories, in the form of interview transcripts and audio recordings, will be published in tranches by the Irish Qualitative Data Archive (IQDA) in the Digital Repository of Ireland.



Preservation and Trust: the DSA certification process

by Peter Tiernan


At the Digital Repository of Ireland, the development of the Repository has been based on the implementation of best practices in preservation, and the trust of our depositors. Our depositors must feel assured that the digital content in the Repository will be safeguarded and preserved into the future. But how does the DRI achieve this level of trust and assurance?

Our aim is to become a 'trusted digital repository'. What is this, you ask? Well, as defined in the RLG-OCLC report “Trusted Digital Repositories: Attributes and Responsibilities”, a trusted digital repository is:

"one whose mission is to provide reliable, long-term access to managed digital resources to its designated community, now and in the future."

It does go further into it but keeps it intentionally vague. Other definitions include:

"hav[ing] an organizational system that supports [the] long-term viability of the repository" and "design[ing] its system(s) in accordance with commonly accepted conventions and standards"

All pretty high-level stuff! While some of these definitions seem a little daunting, using existing TDR audits and certifications can help with the process.



Documenting Destruction: the Westropp Photographic Collection and the 1916 Rising

by Dr. Sharon Webb


Since we “went live” last month we have been busy adding new collections to our (‘Data Seal of Approval’ approved) Repository. One such collection is the Royal Irish Academy’s ‘Photographs of Dublin City Centre after the 1916 Rebellion’.

The forty photographs in this collection, taken by antiquarian Thomas Johnson Westropp (1860-1922), document key buildings, monuments and streets in Dublin in the aftermath of the 1916 Easter Rising. Westropp donated these photographs to the Royal Irish Academy in June 1916, just weeks after the events of the Rising unfolded. When we spoke to Siobhan Fitzpatrick, Librarian (RIA), about Westropp’s collection and in particular his commitment and interest in documenting the destruction of Dublin’s landscape, she said:

'He obviously went to great lengths to take many of the photographs which are preserved in the collection.  The fact that he had the images developed, printed and mounted in an album within a week conveys a certain sense of urgency and the fact that he deposited the album with the Academy for safe keeping shows his strong archival sense and the importance he placed on preserving the record. Similar albums were deposited with other repositories in Dublin confirming Westropp’s archival commitment.' (23 July 2015)



Challenges that come with archiving tweets in line with Twitter’s Developer Policy

by Clare Lanigan


The challenge of preserving social media is an important topic in the contemporary data landscape. In the case of Twitter, millions of tweets are issued every day,  and the conversations that happen on Twitter form an essential record of our time; but like all records, this conversation can disappear if not adequately preserved. Vint Cerf from Google spoke to the media recently about the danger of a “digital dark age”, as current storage methods become obsolete. To most people, especially those working in digital preservation, this was not surprising information. 

Finding sustainable, efficient ways to gather, preserve and provide access to social media archival data is the driving force behind the The Social Repository of Ireland, a joint project of Digital Humanities and Journalism group at the Insight Centre for Data Analytics and the Digital Repository of Ireland at the Royal Irish Academy. Over the past year or so, the Social Repository of Ireland has investigated the feasibility of developing an effective social media archiving tool for Twitter data relating to significant events in Ireland. During our research, we have identified some important issues that anyone thinking of setting up a Twitter archive needs to be aware of. In this article, we look at those issues, examining the historical relationship between developers and Twitter, changes to the Developer Rules over time and how other projects have fared when attempting to gather and preserve tweet data in a social media archive.



Imaging of the Clarke Studios Window in Situ

by Joanne Carroll

Since December 2013, the Digital Resources and Imaging Services of Trinity College have been digitising the archive of the Harry Clarke Stained Glass Studios, held in the Manuscript and Archive Research Library. As a demonstrator project for the Digital Repository of Ireland, we aim to digitise and catalogue the archive of this prolific stained glass studio spanning 80 years. The digital collection will include a large selection of designs and photographs, business records, letters, and various materials relating to the design and commission of stained glass windows in Ireland and around the world. Another aspect of the project is the imaging of Clarke Studio stained glass windows in situ. We have imaged the windows in Belvedere College, where Harry Clarke went to school and a 5-minute walk from the original Clarke Studios on North Frederick Street. We have also imaged the windows in St. Michan’s Church, John’s Lane Church and the Mansion House.

Figure 1: Belvedere College Chapel. Copyright of The Board of Trinity College Dublin

It was a huge pleasure to be able to image these windows and meet the people who work, volunteer, and worship in the buildings that house these fine pieces of 20th Century religious art.  When speaking to people it was clear the interest and curiosity held in the windows and their desire to find out more about the designs; the online digital collection is a great resource for researchers to discover the origins of the windows they have looked at in their parish church possibly their whole lives. The photographing of the windows not only encourages research from interested parties but also furthers our understanding of the material; by going into the field we are able to add further information about the archive and improve the records we hold in the repository.



Na Lámhscríbhinní Béaloidis I mBailiúchán Sheáin Mhic Giollarnáth

le Rósmáire Ní Cholla

Seolfar tionscadal taispeántach de chuid OÉ Gaillimh do Thaisclann Dhigiteach na hÉireann don phobal ag Comhdháil DPASSH 2015. Sraith bailiúchán atá curtha in eagar atá sa tionscadal, ar théama na hOidhreachta Cultúrtha. Tiomsaíodh na bailiúcháin as cartlanna fuaime, téacs agus íomhánna agus cé gur ábhar Gaeilge an t-ábhar féin, ullmhaíodh na meiteashonraí agus an t-ábhar comhthéacsúil trí Ghaeilge agus trí Bhéarla sa chaoi is go mbeidh na húsáideoirí abalta brabhsáíl agus cuardach a dhéanamh trí cheachtar den dá theanga.

Díreoidh an blag áirithe seo ar bhailiúchán amháin sa tionscadal: Bailiúchán Sheáin Mhic Giollarnáth. Tá clú ar Sheán Mac Giollarnáth mar bhéaloideasóir agus mar scríbhneoir. Dátaí idir 1929-1940 atá ar na bunlámhscríbhinní agus cuireadh le chéile iad i gConamara nuair a bhí Mac Giollarnáth ina bhreitheamh ar an gcúirt dúiche ansin sna blianta 1925-1950. Tras-scríobhadh na lámhscríbhinní i 2003-04. Tugtar 47 lámhscríbhinn agus tras-scríbhinn digitithe i mBailiúchán Sheáin Mhic Giollarnáth, mar aon le craoltaí RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta, meascra ábhar ilghnéitheach ó na lámhscríbhinní agus faisnéis chúlra faoina shaol agus a shaothar. Tá an-réimse ábhar sna lámhscríbhinní, an dúlra agus an fiadhúlra agus aistriúcháin ón mBéarla agus ón nGearmáinis san áireamh. Ní nach ionadh áfach, agus an cúlra a bhí aige, ábhar béaloidis atá i bhformhór acu (40 lss). Dá bhrí sin díreofar anseo ar na lámhscríbhinní béaloidis agus ar an ábhar ilghnéitheach. 




by Rosemary Coll

The NUI Galway demonstrator project for DRI launches to the public at DPASSH 2015. The project draws on Irish language audio, text and image archives to create a number of curated collections based around the theme of Cultural Heritage. While the content is in Irish, metadata and contextual material have been prepared in both Irish and English so that users can browse and search through either language. 

This blog showcases one of our collections Bailiúchán Sheáin Mhic Giollarnáth, The Seán Mac Giollarnáth Collection. Seán Mac Giollarnáth was a renowned folklorist and writer. The original manuscripts are dated 1929-1940 and were compiled in Conamara where Mac Giollarnáth served as circuit court judge 1925-1950. They were transcribed in 2003-04. Bailiúchán Sheáin Mhic Giollarnáth presents 47 digitised manuscripts and transcripts, together with a number of Raidió na Gaeltachta broadcasts, collection ephemera and background material about his life and work. The manuscripts contain material on a range of themes including nature and wildlife and a number of translations from English and German. As one might imagine given his background, the majority (41 mss) contain folklore. Consequently the focus here is on the folklore manuscripts and ephemera. 





Welcome to the DRI blog

by Sharon Webb

If you're familiar with our work, then you've seen our Publications page, which includes formal reports and guidelines, as well as brief Factsheets and links to presentations on our Slideshare account. DRI are now launching a blog to complement our Publications, and also provides a venue for different kinds of considerations. READ MORE