Proclamation signatory Thomas McDonagh, his wife Muriel Gifford McDonagh, and their baby son Donagh (1913). Muriel’s sister Grace married Joseph Plunkett in his Kilmainham prison cell the night beforeNational Library of Ireland

A new series of online exhibitions will focus on the well-known and not-so-well-known stories of people and events surrounding the Easter Rising. The exhibitions will come online over the first six months of 2016.

"Inspiring Ireland 1916: Weaving Public and Private Narratives" will use fascinating objects – digitized photos, diaries, posters, aural recordings, video, and ephemera – to tell the stories of the 1916 Easter Rising and to paint a picture of everyday life at the time. The project presents a new series of seven themed exhibitions that weave public and private narratives related to 1916.

The project is the culmination of a partnership between the National Library of Ireland (NLI) and the Digital Repository of Ireland. The exhibitions will combine expert narrative with iconic objects from the National Library of Ireland, the National Archives of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland and RTÉ Archives, alongside previously unseen publicly collected memorabilia from Collection Days hosted by the National Library of Ireland.

Inspiring Ireland 1916 creates a dynamic, multi-media reflection on the people, events, and legacy of 1916. Part of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme, Inspiring Ireland is jointly funded by the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and the Minister for Diaspora Affairs at the Department of the Taoiseach and the Department of Foreign Affairs.

 

Louise Gavan Duffy, suffragist, educator, nationalist and Irish language enthusiast, opposed the Rising but staffed the kitchen in the GPO and was the last to leave the building after the surrender at the end of Easter Week, 1916.

Louise Gavan Duffy, suffragist, educator, nationalist and Irish language enthusiast, opposed the Rising but staffed the kitchen in the GPO and was the last to leave the building after the surrender at the end of Easter Week, 1916.

 

Dr Sandra Collins, Director of the NLI and Chair of Inspiring Ireland’s Steering Group, said “Inspiring Ireland is a wonderful addition to the 2016 commemorations, bringing beautifully curated images and themes of 1916 to life for everyone across the world to enjoy. Working together with the Digital Repository of Ireland and the other custodians of primary sources such as RTÉ Archives, the National Museum and the National Archives shows the variety and richness of these online exhibitions.”

The Inspiring Ireland partnership is a key element of the NLI’s 2016 Programme, as part of Ireland 2016, and allows the NLI to share important artifacts and the stories that surround them.

Read more: Eyewitness to 1916: Young Irish female fighter in the GPO tells her story

Dr Natalie Harrower, Director of the Digital Repository of Ireland, unveiled the schedule of exhibitions, which begins with stories of Women and the Rising.

“By combining public content cared for by Ireland’s national cultural institutions with private items shared by members of the public via our national and international Collection Days, Inspiring Ireland 1916 is able to show a side of the Rising that is not as well documented. In our first exhibition, we use the lens of women’s lives to explore class, politics, grief and survival through this remarkable period in Irish history. And this is just the start of the stories that have inspired Ireland through the Rising.”

 

Pistol given to Grace Gifford Plunkett, a sister-in-law of Thomas MacDonagh, by Joseph Plunkett on Easter Saturday, April 1916.

Pistol given to Grace Gifford Plunkett, a sister-in-law of Thomas MacDonagh, by Joseph Plunkett on Easter Saturday, April 1916.

 

Inspiring Ireland 1916 will also unveil exhibitions that use brand new sources, for example, the witness testimonies of British soldiers sent to quell the fighting in Dublin, and official compensation claims for damaged property from businesses and individuals – including artists Jack B. Yeats and Harry Clarke.

“The Digital Repository of Ireland is delighted to be able to expand the Inspiring Ireland project to share new discoveries, and the artifacts and stories that surround them, alongside important existing memories from our treasured cultural institutions,” added Dr Harrower.

The NLI recently announced a unique digital repository of personal papers and photographs that tell the story of the momentous events of 1916. In addition to the 70,000 digital images already available through the NLI’s online catalogue, the digitized personal papers and photographs of the seven signatories of the 1916 Proclamation will all be available online by April 2016. The full collection of Ceannt, Clarke and Connolly’s papers are already available to the public, free of charge at catalogue.nli.ie.

Letter from Tom Clarke to his son John Daly Clarke

Letter from Tom Clarke to his son John Daly Clarke

Katherine McSharry, Head of Outreach and the person responsible for the 2016 program at the National Library, commented: “The NLI’s 2016 program has been developed to make the stories of 1916 accessible to all and we are delighted to partner with Inspiring Ireland to highlight items from our collection as well as content shared by members of the public via the Collection Days. This content reveals a side of the Rising that is not as well documented and we look forward to what may be revealed at future Collection Days and events to be held in New York and London over the coming months.”

Inspiring Ireland is built on the preservation infrastructure of the Digital Repository of Ireland, which means that digital objects are preserved for long term access and discovery, ensuring Ireland’s digital cultural heritage will be available when the next centenary rolls around in another hundred years.

Read more: Lily Kempson, the longest surviving rebel of 1916, died 20 years ago

Details of the NLI’s full 2016 program of events, from exhibitions and public events to major digitization projects, are available on the NLI’s website www.nli.ie.

To view the Inspiring Ireland exhibition, visit www.inspiring-ireland.ie.