Skip to main content


Launch of Inspiring Ireland 1916

Submitted on 19th January 2016


Inspiring Ireland Brings the Public and Private Stories of 1916 to the World.

(L-R) Dr Sandra Collins, Director of NLI and Chair of Inspiring Ireland Operational Steering Group; Dr Natalie Harrower, Director of DRI; Caroline McGee, Project Creative Lead, Inspiring Ireland 1916; Professor Mary Daly, President of the RIA and Minister of State for the Diaspora, Jimmy Deenihan TD., at the official launch of Inspiring Ireland 1916, Tuesday 19 January, Royal Irish Academy. Photo credit: Johnny Bambury

For Immediate Release

Inspiring Ireland Brings the Public and Private Stories of 1916 to the World

19 January 2016

Royal Irish Academy


At a busy launch today (Tuesday January 19) in the Royal Irish Academy, Minister of State for the Diaspora, Jimmy Deenihan TD., revealed an exciting new phase of the Digital Repository of Ireland’s Inspiring Ireland project – a fresh series of exhibits focusing on the known and not-so-known stories of people and events surrounding the Rising that will be brought to life online over the first six months of 2016 as part of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme.

Inspiring Ireland 1916: Weaving Public and Private Narratives uses fascinating objects — digitised photos, diaries, posters, aural recordings, video, and ephemera — to tell the stories that surround the Rising, and paint a picture of everyday lives in 1916. Combining expert narrative with iconic objects from the National Archives of Ireland, the National Library of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland and RTÉ Archives alongside ‘found’ objects from private collections, Inspiring Ireland 1916 creates a dynamic, multi-media reflection on the people, events, and legacy of 1916.

Officially launching the new series of exhibitions, Minister Deenihan said: “It gives me tremendous pride to launch this new phase of Inspiring Ireland, dedicated to telling the stories of 1916, from both private and public collections. These exhibits are truly revealing Ireland at its best, and by bringing them together in one online space, we allow people to participate in commemorating the events and lives of 1916 from wherever they may currently reside, with whatever connection brings them to explore the history of this island. Through these new exhibits, which importantly, allow the public to contribute content alongside known artefacts, the Digital Repository of Ireland is continuing the crucial work of preserving and sharing our national cultural heritage for many generations to come.”

From the Inspiring Ireland 1916 exhibition 'Women and the Rising': 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 before he was executed on 4 May, 1916. Image courtesy National Library of Ireland

At today’s launch, Dr. Natalie Harrower, the Digital Repository of Ireland’s Director, revealed 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.”

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 artefacts and stories that surround them, alongside important existing memories from our treasured cultural institutions” added Dr. Harrower.

The interpretive essays have been written by leading Irish and international historians of 1916 and its legacy, among them Professor Senia Paseta, University of Oxford who has provided the commentary for the first exhibit on women’s lives.

“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” adds Dr. Sandra Collins, Director of the National Library of Ireland, and Chair of Inspiring Ireland’s Steering Group.

From the Inspiring Ireland 1916 exhibition 'Women and the Rising': Pistol given to Grace Gifford Plunkett, cartoonist, illustrator and sister-in-law of Thomas MacDonagh, by Joseph Plunkett, the youngest signatory of the Proclamation. The couple had been engaged to be married until the events of Easter Week intervened. The authorities granted permission for the wedding to take place in Kilmainham Jail, where Plunkett was detained until his execution The wedding took place in the candlelit chapel just hours before he died on May 4, 1916. Image courtesy National Museum of Ireland

Commenting on the launch, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys T.D., said:

“I am delighted to see that the role of women in the Rising will be the topic of the first in this latest series of online exhibitions being rolled out as part of the Inspiring Ireland project. Digital resources, such as Inspiring Ireland, are helping us to explore the events of 1916 in accessible and innovative ways, helping us to share our history with a global audience. With its unique mix of material from members of the public and our cultural institutions, I have no doubt that Inspiring Ireland will continue to reveal fascinating new material on 1916 as we move through the centenary year.”

This digital cultural heritage preservation project has been designed by the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) at the Royal Irish Academy and is part of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme. 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.



For further information on Inspiring Ireland and DRI contact:

Caroline McGee, Digital Repository of Ireland, 01 609 0683

Inspiring Ireland website:

Digital Repository of Ireland:

More information on DRI:

Twitter: @dri_ireland #inspiringireland

For information on Ireland 2016:

Madeline Boughton

Tel: 087 797 7827


Web site:

Twitter: @ireland2016



Notes for Editors

Inspiring Ireland 1916 is a project by the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI), in partnership with NAI, NLI, NMI and RTÉ. Part of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme, it is 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.

Inspiring Ireland 1916 is the second phase of an ambitious project to make Ireland’s cultural treasures accessible online to a broad national and international audience. It presents a new series of seven themed exhibitions that weaves public and private narratives relating to the events of 1916 using a combination of objects from Ireland’s National Cultural Institutions alongside new and previously unseen publically collected memorabilia. The first phase of the project was launched in 2014 as a pilot with content from eight of Ireland’s national cultural institutions, and won three e-government awards in January 2015.

Inspiring Ireland 1916 will open the nation’s cultural heritage to a wider viewership, allowing visitors to access rich images and interpretation by historians of the events that took place in the period leading to, during and after Easter Week 1916. It provides an indispensible tool for educators, the public, and the Diaspora to access cultural heritage at their fingertips.The online portal is powered by the Digital Repository of Ireland’s preservation infrastructure, which means that all objects on the site are being preserved for the long term in a certified trusted digital repository. As part of a larger programme to digitise, preserve, and share Ireland’s cultural heritage for public viewing, educational use and scholarly research Inspiring Ireland 1916 allows users to discover and make personal connections with public memorabilia and with objects and documents relating to 1916 held in the extensive collections of Irish cultural Institutions.

In the same way that the cultural preoccupations of the Celtic Revival supported the political ambitions of 1916, Ireland’s cultural heritage – both from official sources and those potentially forgotten – will take its rightful place as part of the 1916 centenary commemorations through this nationwide digital platform.

Inspiring Ireland is part of the Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme. This is a year-long programme of activity, led by Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, Heather Humphreys, T.D., to commemorate the events of the 1916 Rising, to reflect on our achievements over the last 100 years and to look towards Ireland’s future.




DRI is funded by the Department of Further and Higher Education, Research, Innovation and Science (DFHERIS) via the Higher Education Authority (HEA) and the Irish Research Council (IRC).

Higher Education Authority Logo
Irish Research Council Logo
Core Trust Seal Logo
Digital Preservation Awards 2022 Winners Ribbon Logo

Subscribe to our newsletter and stay updated