From rare pre-Euro coins to the last photograph of Michael Collins taken before his death, the Irish around the world have discovered all sorts of rare treasures in their attics and basements, items passed down through the generations and almost lost to time.
With the centenary of Ireland’s 1916 Easter Rising fast approaching, the Digital Repository of Ireland and the Inspiring Ireland project are calling upon all of Ireland, the Irish diaspora, and anyone with a link to the Easter Rising to search through their old mementos, heirlooms, trinkets, letters and photographs for any items that could be related to 1916 and those involved. Family stories, too, are welcome.
In Ireland, there have already been a number of events at which people in possession of items they believed to be of relevance to 1916 could get the artifacts assessed by experts and then digitized to become part of Inspiring Ireland’s larger archive and exhibition of 1916 memorabilia.
Now, similar events will take place in New York (April 17) and London (March 19) to give Irish expats and members of the larger Irish diaspora the chance to add their heirlooms to this ever-growing digital portrait of the 1916 Rising.
According to the Inspiring Ireland hub, over one hundred fascinating objects have already been gathered at events held in the National Library of Ireland. They include:
The diary of Herbert Fitzgerald, a student at Trinity College in 1916 and neighbor of Hannah and Francis Sheey Skeffington, who recorded the events he witnessed on Easter Monday.
An 'autograph' book kept by Irish Volunteer Mortimer O'Connell (later clerk of the Dáil) complete with a love poem he and his future wife exchanged while he was imprisoned at Frongoch prison camp in Wales.
Another 'autograph' book from Ballykinlar Camp, Co. Down where future Taoiseach Seán Lemass was imprisoned in 1920.
And the crucifix used by Fr. Sebastian O'Brien, the Dublin-born Capuchin friar who ministered to Joseph Plunkett as he awaited execution in Kilmainham Gaol (jail) on May 4, 1916. It was brought forward by a family who have been the crucifix’s custodians ever since the donor's grandfather, an altar boy in the Capuchin friary on Church Street, Dublin received it from Fr. O’Brien.
These and all the other digitized historic items gathered at national and international Inspiring Ireland collection days will be published online in phases through May 31 alongside the site's seven thematic exhibitions on women and the Rising, communications and the media during the Rising, how the Rising was felt in different regions of Ireland, the leaders of the Rising, beyond the Rising, the impact of the Rising, and how the Rising was remembered.
The call for items is especially important given the number of auctions of 1916 memorabilia that have taken place in recent months.
Inspiring Ireland is powered by the infrastructure of the Digital Repository of Ireland, which means that digitized 1916 content will be preserved for long-term access and discovery in a certified, trusted, digital repository so that it continues to be available for the next 100 years and beyond.
See below for more information, and visit the Inspiring Ireland website to register for one of the sessions.
Inspiring Ireland 1916 Collection Day – April 17, New York City
The Inspiring Ireland 1916 New York collection day takes place in Glucksman Ireland House, New York City on Sunday, April 17, 2016 - 1pm to 6pm. It is organized in partnership with the Consulate General of Ireland in New York and Glucksman Ireland House, the center for Irish and Irish-American Studies at New York University. Glucksman Ireland House provides access to Irish and Irish-American culture and fosters excellence in the study of Ireland, Irish America, and the global Irish Diaspora. More information on Glucksman Ireland House (Tel. 00 1 212 998-3952)
Inspiring Ireland 1916 Collection Day – March 18, London
The Inspiring Ireland 1916 London collection day takes place in the Embassy of Ireland in London on Saturday, March 19, 2016 - 11am to 4pm. It is organized in partnership with the Embassy of Ireland in Great Britain and Irish in Britain, the leading network for Irish community organizations and Irish individuals in Britain. The network and its Members are the foundation of Irish community life in Britain and their mission is to make a difference to the lives and experiences of Irish people across Britain. More information on Irish in Britain (Tel. 00 44 20 7697 4081)
Inspiring Ireland 1916 Collection Day - May 14, Belfast
The Inspiring Ireland 1916 Belfast collection day takes place in the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), Titanic Quarter, Belfast on Saturday, May 14, 2016 - 11am to 4pm. It is organized in partnership with Belfast City Council and PRONI the official place of deposit for public records in Northern Ireland. (Email: [email protected])