A project launched yesterday (27 June) will allow the public to explore a virtual recreation of the Public Record Office of Ireland and its collections, as they were on the eve of their destruction at Dublin’s Four Courts at the outset of the Civil War.
Taoiseach Micheál Martin and Minister for Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media Catherine Martin formally launched the Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland at Dublin Castle.
When the Public Record Office of Ireland was destroyed by fire in 1922, hundreds of thousands of precious historical documents relating to all aspects of Irish life were lost.
The new project is being described as “a vast and growing treasury” of replacement documents newly discovered in partner archives around the world.
The project means that tens of thousands of searchable documents will be freely and permanently available online.
The Virtual Record Treasury of Ireland is the outcome of a five-year State-funded programme of research entitled ‘Beyond 2022’.
Led by Trinity College Dublin, it has used historical investigation, archival conservation, and technical innovation to reimagine and recreate the archive that was lost on 30 June 1922.
The Taoiseach described the event as “an occasion for joy and pride”, adding that the destruction of the record office in 1922 had been an “absolute catastrophe”.
“Seven centuries of Ireland’s deep history were destroyed in one afternoon – a devastating and seemingly irrecoverable archival loss of our cultural heritage and collective memory and a traumatic legacy of our Civil War,” he said.
“The Virtual Record Treasury offers an enduring legacy for our Decade of Centenaries. It is an invaluable historical resource for people of all traditions across the island, and for everyone of Irish heritage around the world,” the Taoiseach stated.