Jimmy Deenihan TD, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, has provided a Departmental grant of 45,000 to enable the digitisation of some of the most important paper-based documents held by the National Museum of Ireland
. The project will preserve a wide range of historical material and greatly increase its availability to the public.
Among the material covered by the project is a collection of contemporary documents relating to significant historical events and movements such as the rebellions of 1798 and 1803, the struggle for Catholic emancipation, the Repeal Association and Young Ireland, the Fenians, the Home Rule movement and the Land War.
Of the later material, by far the most significant is the Easter Week collection, a considerable repository of photographs and documents from the period 19101923. This collection includes items of great historical import, such as:
The original draft of Patrick Pearses order of surrender to General Maxwell in 1916
Political documents by Éamon de Valera and Arthur Griffith
Administrative records relating to the Irish Volunteers
A collection of autograph books and photographs from internment camps in Britain and Ireland
The last written messages of a number of the executed leaders of the 1916 Rising, including the letter Pearse wrote to his mother the morning he was put to death.
Minister Deenihan viewed a number of the documents which are to be digitised, and also viewed the death mask of Michael Collins which is held by the National Museum of Ireland. Minister Deenihan commented:
"These are vitally important documents. I am delighted to be able to provide support to this project which when completed will represent another significant step forward in the digitisation of our shared heritage. As we approach the centenary commemoration of 1916 it is particularly important that these remarkable primary sources be made available to as many people as possible."
Director of the National Museum of Ireland, Raghnall Ó Floinn, commented: "We are grateful to the Minister for providing the funds to enable us to digitise and make available this unique collection of documents covering some 300 years of Irish history. Their digitisation will enable us to bring our collections to the widest possible audience and will become a key resource for the study of Irish political, social and military history.
The digitisation project, which will be completed this year, also includes the Cashman collection, which contains over 200 photographs many of them previously unpublished of events and individuals connected to 1916 and the War of Independence. A number of historical artefacts relating to Roger Casement and Thomas Ashe will also be covered by the project, along with historical and military collections from the period after 1922.