Beyond 22 project marks 98th anniversary of Four Courts fire

On Tuesday 30 June 2020, the Trinity College Dublin-led Beyond 2022 project presents a virtual research showcase and panel discussion on the 98th anniversary of the fire that destroyed the Public Record Office of Ireland at Dublin’s Four Courts.

Unlocking the Archives: A Research Showcase from the Beyond 2022 Project is supported by the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute. 

The fire on 30th June 1922 was a devastating cultural loss and one of the great tragedies – outside those in which human life was lost – of the Civil War.

The Beyond 2022: Ireland’s Virtual Record Treasury (https://beyond2022.ie/research project is an exciting all-island and international collaborative project. It seeks to re-imagine and re-create, through virtual reality, this national treasure and the archival collections that were lost, comprising records of seven centuries of Irish history, genealogy and administration.

In December 2019 the project was awarded €2.5 million from the Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, under Project Ireland 2040.

At 1 pm Irish time on June 30th, the public are invited to join the Beyond 22 team as they discuss their latest archival discoveries from around the world and demonstrate how technological advancements can recover voices hidden deep in the historical record. The following three presentations will reflect the archival, historical and computer science aspects of the project’s research:

  • Saved from the fireThe National Archives of Ireland Salved Record collection.

As conservation and listing work funded by the Irish Manuscript Commission progresses, Zoë Reid, Senior Conservator, National Archives of Ireland, and Dr Paul Dryburgh, Principal Records Specialist, The National Archives (UK), will explain the conservation challenges in these unique survivors from 1922, and uncover their fascinating contents.

  • What would you save from the flames?

Dr Sarah Hendriks, Beyond 2022 Research Fellow at The National Archives (UK), and Dr Timothy Murtagh, Beyond 2022 Research Fellow of the Public Record Office of Northern Ireland (PRONI), will tell us what one thing they wish they could have saved from the 1922 fire and why, before exploring the detective work involved in locating partial replacements.

  • Hidden among the data: The Beyond 2022 Knowledge Graph for Irish History

Dr Christophe Debruyne and Dr Lynn Kilgallon will showcase this exciting Computer Science research strand in Beyond 2022’s work, demonstrating its potential for changing the questions we can ask of the recovered records, and the hidden stories it can reveal.

Register for the above event herehttps://zoom.us/webinar/register/WN_HXxzAUCLScu9wGRDw6tpNQ

The second discussion, from 7.30 pm to 9 pm Irish time on June 30th, is Unlocking the Archives 2: Next Generation Access

Professor Guy Beiner, Burns Visiting Scholar in Irish Studies at Boston College, and Orlaith McBride, Director of the National Archives of Ireland, will discuss ‘recovering the memory’ of the Four Courts Blaze, and how archives can respond creatively to the challenge of commemoration within Ireland’s Decade of Centenaries. The public are invited to join the conversation and come on a journey into the newly-constructed ‘virtual search room’ within Beyond 2022’s Virtual Record Treasury.

This discussion will be moderated by Professor Jane Ohlmeyer, Director of the Trinity Long Room Hub Arts and Humanities Research Institute.

The aim of Beyond 2022 is to create and launch on 30 June 2022 a Virtual Record Treasury for Irish history—an open-access, virtual reconstruction of the Record Treasury destroyed at the PROI in 1922. The Virtual Record Treasury will provide an enabling framework for connecting archival collections worldwide and rediscovering our collective national memories.

Beyond 2022 has inspired a unique collaboration between our Core Partners and a growing list of 30+ Participating Institutions in Ireland, the United Kingdom and the United States.

The Core Partners are:

The National Archives of Ireland

The National Archives (UK)

The Public Record Office of Northern Ireland

The Irish Manuscripts Commission

The Library, Trinity College Dublin, The University of Dublin

ADAPT Centre – The ADAPT Centre at Trinity College Dublin which is funded by Science Foundation Ireland focuses on developing next generation digital technologies that transform how people communicate by helping to analysepersonalise and deliver digital data more effectively for businesses and individuals.

The primary outcome from Phase II will be a fully immersive, three-dimensional, virtual reality model of the digitally reconstructed Public Record Office of Ireland, which will be launched in June 2022 to mark the centenary of the fire. This model will be used as an interactive tool for engagement and research, whereby visitors will be able to browse the virtual shelves and link to substitute or salvaged records held by archives and libraries around the world.