Local history comes to life online – The Irish Community Archive Network

The National Museum of Ireland has partnered with the Creative Ireland Programme to encourage communities across the country to document and digitally safeguard the irreplaceable artefacts of their local heritage. The Irish Community Archive Network (iCAN) works with community volunteer groups to create online digital archives that record and reflect each locality’s particular history, heritage and culture.

The strength of a community can often depend on how connected its people feel to it, with iCAN active citizenship is bolstered and tangible creative engagement with cultural heritage grows. From old photographs to birth certs, children’s toys to musical instruments, not to mention the stories people passed down from generation to generation, all of this contributes to the jigsaw that is a community’s story. Community archives encourage all to collaborate with, and take ownership over these local collections.

Getting involved enables the community itself to curate its story onto custom-built ‘community archive’ websites, ensuring all manner of precious artefacts and memories are safely stored online for future generations and for the global Irish diaspora

 

‘Community archiving’ is a relatively recent practice in Ireland and the National Museum of Ireland is the first National Cultural Institution to facilitate a project of this kind. With 2018 the European Year of Cultural Heritage, this is a timely opportunity to begin the process of documenting local history and heritage.

The project is taking place right across the country and will offer unprecedented insight into the life and history of individual Irish communities. In addition to learning about their history and heritage the initiative will get people learning new skills and connecting with others within their community and beyond.

The website www.ouririshheritage.org offers groups, schools or individuals with an interest in their local history and heritage an opportunity to contribute stories, memories, snapshots, research and observations of life around the country.  The archive on the website contains information submitted by people from Ireland and abroad, with many of the photos, records, testimonies and memories having never before been published.