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Category Archives: Digitization

The Abbey Theatre of 1904 brought back to life

A fascinating project was recently brought to my attention by @Marlalbur (who themselves have an excellent blog on Irish cultural history) An initiative by King’s College London historian, Hugh Denard, with Trinity College Dublin’s Long Room Hub & Irish digital graphics company, NOHO, The Abbey Theatre 1904 project is a project where the interior of the original Abbey Theatre, as used by the Irish National Theatre Society in 1904 is being digitally recreated in 3-D.

This painstakingly challenging and detailed task will for the first time bring to life the auditorium, the stage and more than just an impression of what was a birthing pool for theatre in Ireland. The Abbey was of course a National Theatre before there was even an Irish state. It was revolutionary for such a theatre to be state funded at the turn of the twentieth century. It was unheard of anywhere else in the world. Now, through the project website and blog, you can follow the progress as the Abbey of 1904 is recreated and visualised.

The project’s designers say of their work so far: “The task of digitally visualising the Abbey Theatre as designed by Joseph Holloway poses many challenges. Holloway’s architectural plans and drawings fortunately survive in the National Library of Ireland, and we have several black-and-white photographs of the early Abbey. However, it is more difficult to obtain detailed information about textiles, colour-schemes, and fixtures and fittings originally employed, as well as the less photogenic but functionally important backstage areas” 

“Because there will inevitably be gaps and contradictions in the historical information available to us, it becomes crucial to open the doors to the interpretative process so that the decisions we are making can be freely observed.”

The blog excellently chronicles the extricate research necessary and the time taken to sort through and pin point resources at various archives and institutions such as the National Library of Ireland, the Irish Architectural archive, British Pathe Film archives and many more. Videos outline the 3-D visualisation processes and blog articles describe visits to the Abbey Theatre’s own archive.

This is definetly a project to bookmark and keep an eye on as it unfolds. It shows how theatre history and theatre archives can be embraced and revitalised with the right idea and right technical knowhow. As the Abbey has entered its second century and still continues to grow and evolve, its roots and origins will not be forgotten.

Follow the Abbey Theatre 1904 project blog here and on Twitter @OldAbbeyDigital

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25 Cultural Tourism Technology projects to be funded

Mary Hanafin TD, Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport yesterday (1st November 2010) announced funding of in excess of €1 million towards Cultural Tourism Technology projects.

The projects to be funded are those which were successful under the Cultural Technology Grant Scheme – an initiative aimed at using technology to promote Irish arts and culture announced by Minister Hanafin in July of this year.

The aim of the initiative is to use a variety of the best emerging and existing technology information and communications methods to deliver a promotional, educational or information product to promote the Irish arts, culture and creative sectors and the successful projects each fulfils this aim.

The level of interest in the grant available greatly surpassed all expectations and Minister Hanafin said that “the extent and calibre of the applications received is clear evidence of our national spirit of innovation and creativity and demonstrates the vital role which the arts, culture and creative sectors can play in our economic recovery. Ireland is already well placed as a destination for the cultural tourist and the projects being funded under this initiative will further develop and support the cultural tourism product on offer in Ireland.”

The scope of the successful projects is far reaching and diverse, ranging from apps for iPhones and Smartphones, to mobile websites and tours of some of our cultural tourism highlights, to online interactive games, to even a hologram show.

When complete, the projects will allow self guided tours and walks of the National Botanic Gardens; virtual and 3D tours of the extensive collections of some of our National Cultural Institutions and a number of web based digital programmes aimed specifically at children, including a dedicated children’s Art Website where the creative work of children will go on display, a Digital Creativity Platform for children and an interactive online Viking game.

The high regard and widespread popularity of both our traditional and popular music will be further promoted and developed under the initiative, as will Dublin’s public art; the best of Irish theatre and opera; the ecclesiastical treasures of Co. Clare and the life and poetry of Patrick Kavanagh, to mention but a view of the successful projects.

Minister Hanafin added that “great ideas and innovations in technology are developing all the time and this initiative has allowed us to marry our innovative and creative thinking to our rich and developing cultural offering, thereby allowing us to showcase the best of our Irish art, music, culture and heritage in the most exciting, innovative and dynamic ways. This is the application of smart technology to culture, heritage and tradition.

For a full list of recipients of funding and description of projects see the following table:

Cultural Technology Grant Scheme 2010 projects

For more on this story see:

http://tiny.cc/embgd

http://tiny.cc/axskj

 

 

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Round up of the week’s news and events, 15 Oct 2010

Yet another busy week and here is a round-up of some goings on at home and abroad that came across the desk of Staged Reaction in the past week.

  • Two major exhibitions and archive events are taking place in Limerick. Photographs taken by Franz Sebastian Haselbeck, which went on display at the Museum Hunt include pictures of Home Rule meetings, farmers’ demonstrations and meetings of volunteers leading up to the War of Independence.
    In another ceremony in Limerick yesterday, the diaries and photographs of Cecil Mercier, a former manager at Ranks Mills for over 40 years were presented to the Limerick City Archives. Limerick City Archivist, Jacqui Hayes, said it was an important addition to the city archives because Ranks Mills had such an impact on the economic and social development of Limerick.  Read more: http://tinyurl.com/3xme87j

 

  • Corn Exchange Theatre Company are receiving sell out performances for their production of Freefall. Nothing new there you might rightly say. Well, these performances are in Mexico! Corn Exchange are taking part in the celebration of 200 years since Mexico’s independence and have set up residence in the city of Guanajuato. Reports so far from Corn Exchange say they are the first Irish company to perform in Mexico for forty years. Here is a video promo for Freefall. http://tinyurl.com/2wc4qm7 http://www.cornexchange.ie/index.php

 

  • This Saturday 16th October at 4pm the artist Gerard Mannix Flynn will give a talk about his work and practice at Dialogue Art Space, 43A Vyner Street, London E2 9DQ. Flynn’s talk will focus on the politics and culture of the ‘performance of inclusion’, a cause which he has championed through his art, his theatre and his work as a councillor. Always engaging and always powerful, Flynn commands his audience’s attention. http://tinyurl.com/35f5qwj

 

  • The Abbey Theatre will tour to New York early next year when Frank McGuinness’s John Gabriel Borkman will be staged at the Brooklyn Academy of Music. 12 Jan – 6 Feb 2011. McGuinness’s version of the cautionary tale by Henrik Ibsen is proving a huge success as part of the Dublin Theatre Festival and is proving a huge point of interest for eager audiences at the Brooklyn Academy. http://tinyurl.com/2wyfvny

 

  • Next week is Research Week at NUI Galway. Numerous events are taking place to mark this new event to promote new digital research resources and research and archive collection held by the NUIG James Hardiman Library and Archives. ARAN and RIAN are programmes that allow access to research at NUI Galway and a single portal for national research containing resources from the seven Irish universities and DIT. A series of talks and seminars are planned to help you maximise your research across all disciplines.

             http://www.library.nuigalway.ie/support/supportforresearchers/researchweek/

  • Irish Museum of modern Art (IMMA) will launch a new exhibition marking the contribution and works of Irish modernist artists and explore the development of modernity in Ireland through the visual arts in the period 1900 to 1975. Professor Luke Gibbons will hold a lecture to mark this event next Tuesday 19th October at IMMA, Peripheral Visions: Rethinking Irish Modernism, which explores the transformations of visual culture in relation to Irish modernism and the Revival. http://www.modernart.ie/en/page_212281.htm

 

  • A letter to The Irish Times this week highlighted the plight of the former residents of the Bethany Houses who suffered in these homes and suffered in their lives outside the homes. Exempt, like the Magdalene’s, from the 2002 Redress Board, a new resurgent call for all complete archives and records of these institutions and people be made available to scrutiny and research.

             http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/letters/2010/1014/1224281062031.html

  • Finally, a national broadcaster has recently used a song as a backing track on a programme advertisement. The 1970 track, The Revolution will not be Televised by Gill Scott Heron is an aptly timed use of a powerful call to a people to stand up and be heard. An anthem certainly for our time and certainly worth a listen.
 

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Royal College of Physicians of Ireland Archive blog

 
 

RCPI, Dublin

The Royal College of Physicians of Ireland has recently received funding from the Wellcome Trust for a 21 month project to catalogue its archival collections. As part of the project an archive blog has been set up to provide news and updates on the progress of the project, as well as providing insights into the collections, highlighting interesting finds, and giving an idea as to what an archivist does. 

Newly appointed archivist Harriet Wheelock is behind this initiative to publicize and create an awareness of the hugely important records relating to medicine and education in Ireland at the Royal College of Physicians, Ireland.  Research into the history of medicine in Ireland is currently receiving massive interest from various areas and readers of all backgrounds. The theme of Culture Night 2010 is Science, Medicine and Education so the timing is certainly right for this archive of the RCPI. 

This new blog is a welcome addition to the online presence of archives and is testament to what resources can be utilized to promote archives when opportunities can be limited in the current economic climate. 

The blog can be accessed at http://www.rcpilibrary.blogspot.com/ 

The RCPI Library and Archives web page can be viewed at: 

http://www.rcpi.ie/Pages/Library.aspx#archives

 

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Archives in Crisis – Reaction

Action on Archives

On the first sun-filled Saturday of Summer, a darkened and windowless lecture theatre would hardly be the first choice of venue to spend ones day. However, it certainly was for the 250 people who packed the Robert Emmet Lecture theatre to capacity in Trinity College for the Archives in Crisis symposium.

Organised by the Action on Archives group, headed by T.C.D. Research Fellow Dr. Peter Crooks ,the event was also organised in association by the Society of Archivists (Ireland), headed by Cecile Chemin. The symposium was chaired by Dr. Diarmaid Ferriter, Professor of Modern Irish History at University College Dublin. The panel of guest speakers included Catriona Crowe of the National Archives, Eunan O’Halpin, Professor of Modern Irish History at Trinity College and Fintan O’Toole, Deputy Editor of the Irish Times.

The meeting was scheduled to tackle, for the first time by public debate, the proposed merger of the National Archives and the Irish Manuscripts Commission INTO the National Library of Ireland, put forward by the Government in the December 2000 budget. Described as the biggest risk to Irish documented heritage and records since the shelling of the Four Courts in 1922, the meeting certainly did address and tackle this issue of merging the Archives and Library, with O’Toole calling it an “idiotic proposal and symptomatic of the back-of-an-envelope and ill-informed politics that has brought Ireland to the current state of crisis it finds itself in today”. Given the crowd and undoubted public interest in the future of Irish records and archives, the meeting also addressed ‘action on archives’ that must be taken nationally and in all aspects of the profession, its funding, its service, its accessibility and its direction from the Department of Sport, Culture and Tourism and its Minister.

Catriona Crowe, representing the archivists’ branch of IMPACT trade union, addressed the distinct lack of storage capacity that prevents the National Archives from acting on its statutory obligations to receive, catalogue, preserve and disseminate the records of the Irish state as appropriate. Today, records even dating back to the nineteenth and eighteenth lie at risk in the government departments as the National Archives, despite desperately wanting the records, do not have space, staff or budget to take in the records. Staffing levels in the National Archives are at 45 people, the National Library of Ireland has a staff of 100 and the National Museum has a staff of 200. These figures are but one reminder of the funding and personnel issues which are at crisis point at the National Archives. Crowe argued strongly for the necessity for the re-establishment of the National Archives Advisory Council, which was established under the National Archives Act of 1986. The NAAC has not met since 2007. A vocal and informed NAAC is an absent and vital cog in the efficient and dedicated service of the National Archives.

Fintan O’Toole has through the columns of The Irish Times, of which he is assistant editor, has long been an advocate for stringent or at least consistent and beneficial policy on archives and state records from the Government and at the National Archives. The ability of any citizens of a nation to truly know one-self and grasp at the idea of national identity is through the actions of its National Archives. In the wake of recent damming and horrific reports of abuse and deliberate destruction of records in institutional schools, Magdalene laundries, mental hospitals and general hospitals, how we as a people and nation respond to these crises will tell forever more. Through the records and archives of these forgotten Irish and forgotten institutions the stories of those who were previously silent can now be heard.

In fact, the theme of health records, with particular emphasis on those records of Irish mental hospitals, drew particular attention and debate from attendees of the symposium. It was obvious from the passionate interest from audience members, with reference to health records in particular, that ‘action on archives’ is indeed needed in many aspects of how records of health and education are documented and preserved.  Events that lie beyond the immediate hands of record keepers such as the fire that gutted Longford town Cathedral on Christmas morning of 2009 must be averted in the future. Countless birth, death and marriage records as well as priceless golden crosiers were destroyed in the fire but it was only from the ashes did officials realise that these records were even kept in the cathedral.

The Action-on-Archives organised symposium on the current crisis in Irish state record keeping was a hugely positive starting point. It is the primary goal and objective of the group to oppose the loss by the National Archives of its autonomous identity. The work by Peter Crooks to bring this event together should not be lost and should prove to be the first step of a united effort to lobby an uninformed Government decision and highlight to a public the vital importance of the consistent adherence of the National Archives to its statutory obligations, they primarily being safeguarding and preserving of records of the Irish State and therefore also, the actions of a people and government.

For Further Information Contact:

Peter Crooks – pcrooks@tcd.ie

http://www.facebook.com/?ref=home#!/group.php?v=wall&ref=search&gid=379393677441

http://www.irishtimes.com/newspaper/ireland/2010/0412/1224268137886.html

 

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Ireland’s History Through a Lens

 
National Library of Ireland

Looking through the lens of great Irish past photographers is now possible thanks to the The National Library of Ireland. The Library has recently launched an online database of over 34,000 images portraying nearly one hundred years of Irish life.  The National Library of Ireland holds the world’s largest collection of photographs relating to Ireland. Since 2007, the Library has been engaged in a major digitization project to increase online access to an extensive collection of rare and remarkable glass plate negatives.

Collections of photographs include images from Eason and Son, JJ Clarke, a Dublin Medical student, The Keogh brothers of Dorset Street, A.H. Poole of Waterford, Tempest collection, Louth, Independent Newspapers, Dublin, Lawrence Royal and Cabinet Collection and Studio Pair Collection. These unique images depict an unrivaled view of the topographical make up of the East and South of the country, Dublin City and Ireland’s Revolutionary period.

The director of the National Library of Ireland, Fiona Ross, states the “photographs are a rich source of primary research material and as a means of understanding and engaging with the past. They are invaluable because they provide us with evidence of places, events and people who shaped the nation, as well as providing insights into cultural and social history, politics, art landscape and natural history.” The photographs range from 1860 to 1954.

The database can be viewed and searched online at: http://digital.nli.ie/cdm4/index_glassplates.php?CISOROOT=/glassplates

www.nli.ie

Countess Markievicz. Keogh Collection

Pope Pius XII meeting Bishop McQuaid, Archbishop of Ireland. Independent Newspapers Collection

Colosuem Theatre, Henry Street, 1916. Independent Newspapers Collections

 

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