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At the launch of Irish Archives 2010, a publication marking 40 years of the Irish Society for Archives, the Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport, Mary Hanafin TD ‘has acknowledged criticism of the lack of foresight of successive governments in providing proper accommodation for the National Archives. She said she would prioritise spending in this area in the coming years. “I accept that there is a major responsibility on Government to preserve all of those documents and to do it properly…I can assure you that I will put it as one of my top priorities . . . that we not only improve the current conditions but try to move to a situation where we can have much more accessible accommodation and also much more top-quality accommodation.” Irish Times, 6 October 2010

Culture Night 2010 in Ireland was another tremendous success.  By showing off their best bits, cultural institutions got to  engage with the public in a meaningful manner. Young and old mixed and learned. Why was the National Archives of Ireland conspicuous by its absence? It provided access the previous two years and gave the public ‘the opportunity to learn about the National Archives and its services, obtain information on pursuing genealogical research, learn about useful sources on the World Wide Web, purchase books and view relevant exhibitions.’ Has the government recruitment freeze on public workers affected the National Archives in such a way as they don’t have enough staff in order to facilitate outreach such as Culture Night. More than likely, Yes.  Pue’s Occurrences commented on the retirement of staff at the National Archives in July.

Tomorrow evening, 25 August, sees the launch of the Archives Awareness Campaign at the National Archives of Ireland. Anne Enright, Booker Prize Winning Author will launch the event. The Campaign, coinciding with Heritage Week, will begin that evening and will continue through to the end of September 2010. The Archive Awareness Campaign encourages members of the public to discover the truth about Ireland’s rich Archival heritage. Irish Archive Services nationwide will host a range of complimentary events for members of the public to enjoy, including exhibitions, lectures, information about research resources in Archives, including resources for researching family history. The learnaboutarchives website has details of events.

The Archives & Records Association, Ireland has set up a flickr page dedicated to highlighting Archive Awareness Events.

The announcement by Minister Hanafin of the ‘Cultural Technology Grant Scheme 2020’ to promote cultural Ireland to new markets should be a catalyst to Irish cultural institutions and IT entrepreneurs to develop ‘the best of modern technology to promote Irish arts and culture in all its forms and across a variety of new and existing technology methods’. As Karen Lillington says in the Irish Times ‘CALLING ALL smartphone app developers, website developers, social networkers, mash-up creators – here’s a grant scheme that is bound to pique your interest.

These grants provide a unique opportunity for collaboration between archivists, records managers and IT professionals to develop exciting ‘mobile apps, websites, web applications, mash-ups – just about anything that uses communication technologies over mobile networks or the internet to deliver a service or information focusing on arts and culture with a tourism angle’.  Continue Reading »

The Department of Tourism, Culture and Sport doesn’t seem to be able to see the big picture. The launch of the 1901 Census by the National Archives of Ireland was a tremendous success. Minister Hanafin tells us so on the Department website. She has travelled to New York and London to launch the census as part of a wider tourism initiative using archives and genealogy as a carrot to attract visitors – ‘the launch of the Census returns is a boost to Tourism Ireland’s marketing campaign ‘This is the Year to Come Home’ which will focus on 10 million Americans of Irish descent’…

However, the National Archives of Ireland is, as the Sunday Tribune indicates, in ‘danger of Irish history being lost due to poor storage of archives’. The Director of National Archives of Ireland, David Craig, has made public his concerns over the inadequate space (‘no longer space to take in vital historical documents from government departments and organisations’), unsuitable conditions (‘hundreds of boxes of nation­al documents remain sealed and stored on palettes in the old Jacob’s biscuit factory in Dublin which is unsuitable in temperature and has begun to let in rainwater’) and non compliance with legislation regarding acquisition of governmental records (‘Government departments are now being instructed not to send their documents in to the archives, despite a rule instructing they send them in each and every year. “There is actually legislation in relation to the national archives which requires that we take in these documents every year and we are being forced to break the legislation because there is just no suitable storage for them anymore,” said Craig).

The oxymoron is there – the government promotes a valuable resource while neglecting the future of that very same resource.

The 1901 Census Returns for Ireland have been launched by the National Archives of Ireland (Thursday, 3 June 2010). Minister for Tourism, Culture and Sport Mary Hanafin described it as “an important and exciting day for people all over the world who want to trace their roots”. All the main newspapers and news sites in Ireland covered the launch. http://www.census.nationalarchives.ie

RTE page dedicated to launch of 1901 Census