Maynooth University collections made publicly available online

Thursday, June 25, 2015 - 15:15

Digital Repository of Ireland launches online treasury of cultural and social content
Maynooth University has placed six collections of national importance into the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI), which was launched today by Damien English TD, Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation.
The DRI is an online, open digital repository for artefacts from the humanities, social sciences and cultural domains containing tens of thousands of high-quality, metadata-rich digital objects, including video clips, photographs, digitised manuscripts, oral histories, sound recordings, digitised paintings and museum objects, books and letters.
The user-driven design and implementation of the digital repository was led by researchers from Maynooth University, who also led the development of the policies, guidelines and procedures underpinning the DRI.

Commenting on the launch, Damien English, TD, Minister for Skills, Research and Innovation said: “Fostering collaboration in the academic sector is central to Government’s Action Plan for Jobs and the launch of the Digital Repository of Ireland is indicative of the powerful outcomes which can be achieved when strategic collaborations, with support from cultural, social and industry partners, are facilitated. Together the partners involved in this project have created a valuable resource which will serve to safeguard Ireland’s rich social and cultural data, benefitting research, education and the public at large.” 
The collections deposited into the DRI by Maynooth University are:

  • Ken Saro-Wiwa Archive: A collection of correspondence from the internationally acclaimed Ogoni environmental campaigner to Irish woman Sister Majella McCarron. Written in the final two years of his life, while Saro-Wiwa was held in captivity awaiting execution in Nigeria, these letters and poems "cast a very human eye on one of the late 20th century's most troubling geopolitical issues."
  • Letters 1916: A crowd-sourced digital collection of letters written around the time of the Easter Rising (1 November 1915 – 31 October 1916) which adds a new perspective to the events of the period, a confidential and intimate glimpse into early 20th Century life in Ireland, and an insight into how Irish politics was viewed internationally.
  • Life Histories and Social Change Collection: The result of work conducted by Maynooth University researchers, this collection comprises 100 qualitative life story interviews with three cohorts of Irish citizens: those born between 1916 – 1934, between 1945 - 1954, and between 1965 – 1974.
  • New Urban Living collection: Written by primary school children during the ‘Celtic Tiger era,’ this collection comprises 171 essays entitled, 'The Place Where I Live,' and covers topics such as the locality as a place to live; the nature and extent of friendship networks; the type of activities in which children were involved during their leisure time; and views on the main problems in the locality.
  • World Within Walls Collection: Consisting of oral history interviews, along with an extensive image collection relating to the histories and memories of the St. Davnet’s Campus in Monaghan town, this collection covers its evolution from District Asylum in 1869, to a psychiatric hospital, and its present role as a modern community mental health services campus.
  • Teresa Deevy Archive: Containing published and unpublished writings by the writer, who was once described as "the most important dramatist writing for the Irish theatre" and later as "too dangerous for the Irish stage," the collection also includes correspondence to the playwright and contemporary reviews of her plays.

The repository, which can be accessed at, is the result of nearly four years of research, software development, policy and legal framework design, and data curation by digital archivists and librarians.
Director Dr. Sandra Collins invites everyone to visit DRI online: “DRI offers exciting historical, cultural and contemporary content that tells the story of Ireland and its people. The content comes from some of the finest institutions across Ireland, and is available without charge for people to view and to enjoy. Some of the collections we care for are restricted by copyright or the sensitive nature of the data, but researchers can request access. We are an open repository, and we want people to explore and enjoy their cultural and social heritage.”
Deputy Director Dr. Natalie Harrower said, “DRI has been built from the ground up, following rigorous national requirements analysis, international best practices in data archiving and preservation, and aided by a series of rich collaborations and partnerships with heritage and research institutions across the country. The Repository not only makes available Ireland’s social sciences and humanities data to researchers and the public – it preserves it for future generations. Protecting against data loss helps to protect against the loss of our collective cultural memory.”
About the Digital Repository of Ireland
The Digital Repository of Ireland is a national trusted digital repository for Ireland's social and cultural data. The repository links together and preserves both historical and contemporary data held by Irish institutions, providing a central internet access point and interactive multimedia tools. As a national e-infrastructure for the future of education and research in the humanities and social sciences, DRI is available for use by the public, students and scholars.
The Digital Repository of Ireland is built by a research consortium of six academic partners working together to deliver the repository, policies, guidelines and training. These research consortium partners are: Royal Irish Academy (RIA, lead institute), Maynooth University (MU), Trinity College Dublin (TCD), Dublin Institute of Technology (DIT), National University of Ireland, Galway (NUIG), and National College of Art and Design (NCAD). DRI is also supported by a network of academic, cultural, social, and industry partners, including the National Library of Ireland (NLI), the National Archives of Ireland (NAI) and RTÉ. Originally awarded €5.2M from the Higher Education Authority PRTLI Cycle 5 for the period of 2011-2015, DRI has also received awards from Enterprise Ireland, Science Foundation Ireland, The European Commission's Seventh Framework Programme (FP7) and the Ireland Funds, and Horizon 2020, the EU Framework Programme for Research and Innovation. DRI’s partner project, Inspiring Ireland ( won three eGovernment awards in 2015.