Around the Island

Around the Island

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National Library of Ireland


ELINOR WILTSHIRE (1918-2017) Children and adults on steps heading for a swim, Martello tower, Seapoint, Co Dublin 1964.


David Davison looks at the photographs in the last chapter of the National Library of Ireland’s recent digitisation project

Children clambering among the boughs of a blossom tree in St Stephen’s Green in 1964 is one of a series of photographs of local Dublin life that concludes an ambitious project initiated by the National Library of Ireland in 2007. The concept being, the digitisation of a selection of images representing life in all thirty-two counties from the earliest days of photography to the late 20th century.

The National Library holds more than five million photographs, from which 60,000 have now been digitised, catalogued and made available online. The fact that it has taken fourteen years to complete the project is an indication of the enormity of the task involved in selecting the best examples. Sorting through boxes of large, fragile glass plates is time consuming, as is achieving a balance between scenery, buildings and the life of people in town and country. That Dublin is the last county in the series is indicative of an even-handed approach to the country as a whole. The library has also produced short video introductions to each county giving a flavour of what is to be found.

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