Century Ireland: Virtual newspaper brings century-old events to life

A virtual newspaper bringing the most momentous period of Irish history to life has gone live.

Ten years of news from 1913 will be published every fortnight over the next decade in real time by Century Ireland.

Jimmy Deenihan, the heritage minister, said the digitalised material would catalogue the major events that shaped modern Ireland, from Home Rule to the Civil War, in a fair way.

He said the project — which is part of the Decade of Centenaries initiative — would make history tangible and accessible for the audience of today.

“In a mere decade, the relationship between Britain and Ireland was redefined and Europe and the wider world were consumed in a war of unprecedented mobilisation and slaughter.

“In these years, society was transformed by the ever strengthening assertion of civil and democratic rights, by industrialisation and the progress of organised labour movement, and by education and the pioneering advances of science.

“In this way, the revolutionary decade is not defined only by the political and military history. It is also the many stories of the people and their lives.”

The minister described the project as “invaluable”, despite costing his department €100,000 a year to run in partnership with RTÉ, Boston College Ireland, and the National Cultural Institutions.

Top news stories from 100 years ago will be updated every two weeks on wwwrte.ie/centuryireland along with photos, videos, daily blogs, with a Twitter feed through @CenturyIRL.

He maintained the site is the first of its kind in the world, and hopes it gets the 700m hits the 1901 and 1911 Census have got since going online.

“To fully understand the public moods and attitudes that prevailed in Ireland in the decade from 1913, we need to be aware of all that was happening in politics, economic and social and cultural life,” said Mr Deenihan.

Century Ireland has been produced by a team of researchers at Boston College and historians, including former Fianna Fáil minister Martin Mansergh.

Mike Cronin, project director, said the website would publish everything from the mundane to the ridiculous. Items on its first edition include the Home Rule debate and a story on a boy attacked by an organ-grinder’s monkey in Dublin.

Prof Cronin said Century Ireland would offer a decade-long history of the major and everyday news events from 100 years ago.

“A rich mix of digital content, supported by social media, will allow the public to access a range of material and lead them through the decade of centenaries in real time,” he said.


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