The Irish Community Archive Network is encouraging us all to collect and digitally preserve our unique local history.
Thanks to the National Museum of Ireland’s partnership with the Creative Ireland Programme, communities across the country are being encouraged 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 your community’s story. Community archives encourage us 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. This ensures that all manner of precious artefacts and memories are safely stored online for future generations and for the far flung diaspora who want to connect with home.
With 2018 the European Year of Cultural Heritage, there’s no better time to begin the process in your community. ‘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. These projects wouldn’t be possible without the community volunteers who get the ball rolling on their doorstep. Community volunteers are pivotal to processes like this, making a significant but often invisible contribution to the country’s cultural heritage. With the support and expertise of the National Museum of Ireland, towns and villages nationwide can take the helm over which vital artefacts of Irish history, heritage and culture are preserved and celebrated for a global and local audience.
Offering unprecedented insight into the life and history of individual Irish communities – especially as many of the photos, records, oral testimonies and memories have never before been published – you can gain an understanding and appreciation of your community’s past by getting involved at www.ouririshheritage.org