The National Library of Ireland have unveiled thousands of new digitised images, relating to iconic historical figures like Daniel O’Connell and Jonathan Swift.
An estimated 10,500 newly digitised images have been made available for public viewing, including the Elmes portrait collection.
The collection is named after the librarian Rosalind Elmes who compiled it, and consists of nearly 3,000 images of 1,100 famous figures from Irish history up to the end of the 19th century.
The new archive includes the family photographic collection of Tom Clarke, one of the executed leaders of the 1916 Rising, and his wife Kathleen Clarke, along with correspondence with family, friends and political associates in Ireland.
One of the most eye catching portraits includes one of Kathleen Clarke in mourning, surrounded by her children, shortly after her husband was executed. The photograph was widely used to help raise funds for the republican cause.
The National Library first began the process of digitising its mammoth collection of 10 million items in 2007. It now has 65,000 digitised images, but demand for more is growing. A further 2,000 will be released this summer.
The National Library of Ireland digitisation programme manager Sara Smyth said the digitisation process had created an unrealistic expectation that everything in their collection would be available online.
“There is almost an expectation from our users that they should be able to see things online and they should have that instant accessibility, and we see that expectation,” she said.
“That’s just not possible. We have to proceed on a selective basis. It is a very work-intensive process because a lot of work goes into it before it goes for digitisation. The amount of work that goes into the cataloguing and digitisation of the process is critical - and we are on a very tight budget.”
See some of the photos here.