The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann is Ireland’s academy for the sciences, humanities and social sciences. The RIA provides expert advice, manages research projects, publishes books and journals and sustains a library. It was founded in 1785, with James Caulfield, the Earl of Charlemont, as its first president. Its royal charter, granted the following year, declared its aims to be the promotion and investigation of the sciences, polite literature and antiquities, as well as the encouragement of discussion and debate between scholars of diverse backgrounds and interests.
An all-Ireland body, the RIA organises conferences, arranges discourses and public lectures, and conducts research, with the assistance of a staffing complement of c. 80. In addition to the approximately 400 members there are also more than 60 distinguished honorary members, who in the past have included Edmund Burke, Charles Darwin, Enrico Fermi, Max Planck, Maria Edgeworth, Theodor Mommsen, Albert Einstein and Max Born. Among its current members are Seamus Heaney, Frances Ruane, Mary Robinson and Luke O’Neill. Situated beside the Mansion House, the Academy regularly hosts lectures, discourses and master classes.
The RIA currently supports and manages eleven internationally important research projects and has particular research strengths in the areas in which the library and collections are exceptionally rich, including Irish language and literature, linguistics, the history and culture of Ireland and archaeology. These projects include Foclóir na Nua-Ghaeilge, a definitive historical dictionary of modern Irish; the Dictionary of Irish Biography, published by Cambridge University Press in 9 volumes in 2009 and online; Documents on Irish Foreign Policy, a joint project that opens the archives of the Department of Foreign Affairs; Origins of the Irish Constitution, a book of key documents relating to the drafting of the 1937 Constitution in conjunction with the Office of the Attorney General; the Dictionary of Medieval Latin from Celtic Sources; the Irish Historic Towns Atlas, of which 20 of the projected 44 fascicles have so far been published; Art and Architecture in Ireland, a five-volume work scheduled for publication in 2014; and the Digital Humanities Observatory, an e-scholarship resource. The most recently initiated project is the Digital Repository of Ireland.
Role, Contributions to the Project, Expectations of Outcomes
The RIA is the lead institution with responsibility for co-ordinating management and long-term planning activities for the DRI. It is responsible for setting up and managing the DRI governance structures, stakeholder management, sustainability planning, and in addition, the RIA has responsibility for user support, advocacy, training users to prepare e-resources for the repository as well as ways to discover, analyse, visualise and re-use the resources. The DRI Director, Programme Manager, Educational Technologist and Digital Archivist are all based in the RIA.