Untold stories of 1916 Rising to be brought to life, starting with women of the Rising

19 Jan 2016

Proclamation signatory Thomas McDonagh, his wife Muriel Gifford McDonagh, and their baby son Donagh (1913). Muriel’s sister Grace married Joseph Plunkett in his Kilmainham prison cell the night before he was executed on 4 May, 1916. Image courtesy of the National Library of Ireland)

Digitised photos, diaries, recordings and video from the 1916 Rising are to be made available from today by the Digital Repository of Ireland, beginning with stories of women and the Rising.

The Digital Repository’s Inspiring Ireland project has entered a new phase featuring a fresh series of exhibits focusing on the known and not-so-known stories of people and events surrounding the 1916 Rising.

These untold stories will be brought to life over the first six months of 2016.

Inspiring Ireland 1916: Weaving Public and Private Narratives uses fascinating objects – digitised photos, diaries, posters, oral recordings, video and artefacts – to tell the stories of the Rising and paint a picture of everyday lives in 1916.

The project presents a new series of seven themed exhibitions that weave public and private narratives related to 1916. The first phase of the project was launched in 2014 as a pilot with content from eight of Ireland’s national cultural institutions, and won three eGovernment Awards in January 2015.

The Women of the Rising

The project combines expert narrative with iconic objects from the National Library of Ireland, the National Archives of Ireland, the National Museum of Ireland and RTÉ Archives, alongside previously unseen publicly collected memorabilia from Collection Days hosted by the National Library of Ireland.

News of the collection follows just a week after the Google Cultural Institute created a virtual tour of Dublin featuring rich photography and artefacts, as well as a voiceover by actor Colin Farrell.


Louise Gavan Duffy, suffragist, educator, nationalist and Irish language enthusiast, opposed the Rising but staffed the kitchen in the GPO and was the last to leave the building after the surrender at the end of Easter Week, 1916.

Dr Natalie Harrower, director of the Digital Repository of Ireland, revealed the schedule of exhibitions, which begins with stories of women and the Rising.

“By combining public content cared for by Ireland’s national cultural institutions with private items shared by members of the public via our national and international Inspiring Ireland 1916 is able to show a side of the Rising that is not as well documented. In our first exhibition, we use the lens of women’s lives to explore class, politics, grief and survival through this remarkable period in Irish history. And this is just the start of the stories that have inspired Ireland through the Rising.”

Inspiring Ireland 1916 will also unveil exhibitions that use brand new sources; for example, the witness testimonies of British soldiers sent to quell the fighting in Dublin, and official compensation claims for damaged property from businesses and individuals – including artists Jack B. Yeats and Harry Clarke.

John Kennedy is a journalist who served as editor of Silicon Republic for 17 years