Royal Irish Academy’s book 1916 Portraits and Lives is available for free as a gift from the Irish government.Bettmann/CORBIS

Irish Foreign Minister Charlie Flanagan announced last week that the Irish government has provided a gift to the world to mark the Easter Rising’s centenary: a free downloadable e-copy of the Royal Irish Academy’s book "1916 Portraits and Lives".

The book, a winner of the Best Use of Illustration in Design at the 2015 Irish Design Awards, is a collection of 42 short biographies, accompanied by original illustrations by artist David Rooney, of the men and women whose lives helped to shape or were touched by the events of the Easter Rising.

It is available to download until March 31 at and

“I am delighted to make the Royal Irish Academy’s magnificent 1916 Portraits and Lives freely available as an e-Book to the Irish at home, the diaspora abroad, and friends of Ireland everywhere. Its insightful biographies and striking images make it a fitting memento of the Ireland 2016 centenary commemorations,” Flanagan said.

An exhibition based on the "1916 Portraits and Lives" book is currently on display in New York; Buenos Aires; Cape Town; Rome and Canberra with the support of Ireland’s embassy network.