Cork’s unique LGBTQ history preserved forever in digital repository

16 Oct 2019

Image: © jgolby/

Documents detailing the history of LGBTQ activism in Cork, including newspaper articles and photos, have been added to the Digital Repository of Ireland.

The past few years have seen significant changes in LGBTQ rights in Ireland with the passing of a referendum permitting same-sex marriage in 2015 and the adoption of an amendment that would allow same-sex couples to adopt in 2017. However, this only came after years of campaigning from activists across the country.

Now, Cork’s role in this LGBTQ activism is to be preserved digitally in the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI). Developed by LGBTQ activist and author of Queer Republic of Cork, Orla Egan, the archive was launched to represent the county’s extensive history of activism and includes copies of objects that are often lost or damaged such as brochures, newspaper stories and photographs.

Speaking of the importance the project, Egan said it provides “the best option for ensuring the long-term digital preservation of our collections” and that its inclusion is “important and symbolic for previously marginalised communities, like the Cork LGBT community”. She added that inclusion is “bringing these communities in from the margins and into our national heritage repositories”.

Front page of the Munster GCN newspaper featuring Cork LGBTQ parade.

LGBT float in the 1992 Cork Patrick’s Day parade. Image: Orla Egan/Cork LGBT Archive/DRI

An important piece of history

One of the objects highlighted in the collection is newspaper coverage of the LGBTQ float in the 1992 Cork St Patrick’s Day parade.

Explaining its importance in Cork’s LGBTQ history, Egan said: “The float was organised in response to the exclusion of [the] Irish Lesbian and Gay Organisation from marching in Patrick’s Day parades in New York and Boston.

“It was also an opportunity for greater visibility for the LGBT community in Cork. The colourful float won the prize for best new entry in the Cork Patrick’s Day parade.”

Speaking of the new collection, DRI director Natalie Harrower said: “We are thrilled to see the Cork LGBT Archive preserved and now published in the repository.

“The significant work that Orla put into building this collection is only equalled by the ongoing value it provides in broadening out the social, cultural and political history of Ireland.”

Colm Gorey was a senior journalist with Silicon Republic