Irish start-up Abarta launches downloadable audio guides for heritage sites

20 Jul 2012

Remains of Clonmacnoise Castle, Co Offaly

Heading to Glendalough or the Hill of Tara anytime soon? Well, a new Irish start-up called Abarta is aiming to bring Ireland’s heritage sites into the digital era as it has created a series of audio guides people can download as MP3 files or smartphone apps when they visit such sites.

Abarta has developed guides for Glendalough, Rock of Cashel, the 1916 Rising tour, Cahir Castle, Clonmacnoise, Dún Aonghasa, Hill of Tara and Kilkenny Castle. But why the name Abarta? Abarta was the name of a rather mischievous mythological Irish god from the time of Cú Chulainn.

The start-up itself comprises director Neil Jackman, an archaeologist, Tipperary actress Aideen Wylde, who is the voice artist on the audio guides, sound engineer Rob Laird, composer Enda Seery, and Gavin Harrison, a freelance music and sound designer.

According to Jackman, the audio guides describe and interpret key events and places in Irish history.

He said the guides include not only facts, dates and information, but also stories illustrating how life would have been in those times.

“It really is an immersive experience. We use music and sound effects to convey the mood and immerse people in the moment. We’re aiming to put the listener centre stage, and make them wonder how they would have reacted during the 1916 Easter Rising, or what life would have been like at the court of Brian Boru,” added Jackson.


Abarta team members

Each guide costs €1.99 to download. The start-up is also planning to produce new guides in the coming months to cover historical and archaeological sites in Ireland, as well as lesser-known sites, such as Kells Priory in Co Kilkenny or the Rock of Dunamase in Co Laois.

“We also hope to provide translations of our guides in multiple languages,” said Jackman.

Carmel Doyle was a long-time reporter with Silicon Republic