An EU-backed project is seeking submissions on sport in Ireland, inviting individuals and organisations alike to make contributions.
The Europeana Project is focusing on sport this year - Daire Rooney of the Digital Repository of Ireland gives the background to the undertaking.
“Europeana is a Europe-wide platform for accessing digital culture and heritage, it has digital images, audio recordings, video recordings - all in one place.
“There are 3,000 institutions feeding into the project, with 55 million objects. As part of the project the DRI, which is the national infrastructure for digital objects in Ireland, sends stuff to Europeana.
“One way the project operates is to have particular collection days, where it goes to an area and runs a season a couple of times a year, collecting oral histories based on the season.
“One recent season was based on Europe At Work, and the upcoming one is going to focus on sport.
“Because it’s impossible to do a physical event in these circumstances, where so much is shut down, we approached them and said we’d still like to run an event - particularly with the lack of live sport it might be nice to run something history-based on that.”
As a result, the Digital Repository of Ireland is partnering with EPIC - the Irish Emigration Museum, European Expo2020, the Hunt Museum, the University of Limerick Conference & Sports Campus, and the Fethard Horse Country Experience (FHCE) under the common banner of Europeana Sport - Ireland’s Stories.
Those partners are each undertaking campaigns focusing on specific sports - e.g. camogie, Gaelic football, horse-racing, fishing, martial arts, tag rugby, and rowing.
Campaigns were to start in late May and were aimed at engaging with local communities and enhancing local archives, while at the same time helping to improve the mental health of all involved.
“We’ll run different campaigns based on the contacts each individual organisation has,” says Rooney.
“One of my DRI colleagues has contacts in the martial arts world, for instance, so she’ll run the martial arts end, Fethard will focus on horses, while UL will focus on the GAA, and EPIC on GAA in the diaspora.
“If you’re an individual with an interesting story, or an object, then you can go to a link on Europeana directly and send in a picture with some accompanying context for the object.
“Each partner will run a campaign with governing bodies to do directed interviews with their particular sports as well, but for individuals, the best way to get involved is to submit your story directly.
“The beauty of this is while we’d all love to be at an event and have people present to go through things in detail, we can still have this connection to sporting history despite the lockdown.”
Rooney added that over the course of the summer, more partners from galleries, libraries, archives, and museums will be asked to take part to increase the speed, breadth, and number of contributions, including the National University of Ireland, Galway, and the Little Museum of Dublin.
Ireland is the first country to kick off the Europeana Sport Collections, which will boost the Irish presence in Europeana and give the country a head start for Europeana’s scheduled autumn campaign.
“We plan on running this through the summer,” says Rooney, “But there isn’t a cut-off point - it will probably run for the year.
“The particular campaigns will be promoted at particular times, but the overall campaign will run for the year.”