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Celebrating RIA Library Irish language collections during Seachtain na Gaeilge

Latest Library blog post. In March, the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) collaborated with the Royal Irish Academy (RIA) Library to promote Irish language collections as part of the Seachtain na Gaeilge celebrations (1-17 March 2022). A guest post by Áine Madden, Operations and Communications Manager, DRI.

About the Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI)

The Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) is a national trustworthy digital repository (TDR) that provides long-term digital preservation and sustained access to Ireland’s humanities, cultural heritage, and social sciences data. We provide stewardship of digital data from a range of member organisations including higher education institutions, cultural heritage institutions (the GLAM sector of galleries, libraries, archives, and museums), government agencies, county councils, and community archives. Throughout 2022, we are working with our members to expand the reach of their diverse collections through archive outreach initiatives so that Ireland’s digital cultural heritage can be explored for education and enjoyment.

About Seachtain na Gaeilge and #ARAIrelandSnaG120

Between 1 and 17 March, DRI collaborated with RIA Library to promote their eclectic collections relating to the Irish language and culture as part of #ARAIrelandSnaG120, a social media campaign run by the Archives and Records Association (ARA) Ireland to mark the 120th anniversary of Seachtain na Gaeilge. Founded in 1902 as part of the Irish Revival by Conradh na Gaeilge, Seachtain na Gaeilge is an annual international festival promoting Irish language and culture in Ireland and around the world – it reaches over 1 million people on 5 continents annually. As part of the Seachtain na Gaeilge celebrations, archives, libraries, and repositories around the world shared collections related to the Irish language and culture across Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook using the hashtags #ARAIrelandSnaG120 and #CurdaighDoChartlann (#ExploreYourArchive).


We started the celebrations by highlighting the COMHARTaighde collection, an academic journal of Modern Irish Scholarship founded in 2015 that is peer-reviewed by scholars from institutes both in Ireland and abroad. This journal publishes scholarly work of the highest standard, primarily in the areas of literary and cultural criticism, the study of songs and oral tradition, and Irish sociolinguistics. In 2020, the COMHARTaighde journal was deposited on the DRI by the RIA Library so that this important scholarly research could be preserved for sustained access and used as an educational resource by researchers and members of the public.

You can learn more about the collection in a blog post written by Dr Liam Mac Amhlaigh, a scholar of contemporary Irish literature and lexicography at Maynooth University.

Discover the collection on DRI

Fig.1: Dr Máirtín Coilféir, Dr Liam Mac Amhlaigh, and Professor Máirín Nic Eoin, founding editors of COMHARTaighde,
pictured together with technical consultant Ronan Doherty, at a launch at the Royal Irish Academy.

The Cathach of Colum Cille

The Cathach of Colum Cille is the oldest extant Irish illuminated manuscript, dating to c. AD 600. The surviving 58 folios contain psalms written in a Gallican version of Latin Vulgate. It is understood that the Irish missionary St Colum Cille copied the manuscript from a psalter lent to him by St Finnian. A dispute over the ownership of the copy was resolved by the King of Tara in one of the oldest copyright rulings, in which he is recorded as stating:

‘Le gach boin a boinin’ .i. laugh ‘le gach lebhur a leabrán’. (‘To every cow her calf, so to every book its copy’.)[1]

The Cathach provides a distinctive example of Irish majuscule script, where the letters are all the same height, and has been described as ‘the pure milk of Irish calligraphy’.[2] A full-colour 84-page booklet introducing readers to the provenance, art history, and biblical content of the manuscript can be discovered in the ‘Cathach of Colum Cille’ collection deposited on the DRI by the RIA Library.

You can learn more about the story behind this ancient manuscript by visiting RIA’s online exhibition on the Cathach, curated in 2021 to celebrate the 1500th anniversary of the birth of St Colm Cille.

Discover the collection on DRI

Fig.2: Manuscript page from the Cathach of Colum Cille.

The Doegen Records Web Project

At the start of 2022, the RIA Library published Tionscadal Gréasáin Cheirníní Doegen (the Doegen Records Web Project) on DRI. This valuable collection contains Irish dialect sound recordings created during 1928-31 as part of a systemic Irish dialect survey. The collection takes its name from the man who carried out the recordings on behalf of the Irish government, Dr Wilhelm Doegen (1877–1967), who was Director of the Sound Department at the Prussian State Library, Berlin. The content of the recordings consists of folktales, songs, and other material recited by native Irish speakers from 17 counties. The Doegen collection’s importance to the field of Irish dialectology is significant as many of the local dialects in the recordings are now extinct.

You can find out more about the history of the recordings in a blog post on the RIA Library website.

Discover the collection on DRI

Fig.3: Doegen records of Irish dialect recordings.

DRI looks forward to collaborating with RIA Library and our other members on more archive outreach campaigns throughout 2022 to reinforce the benefits of opening up archival collections for the greatest discovery and reuse. Follow us on Twitter, Instagram, and Facebook and see what you can discover!

Áine Madden, Operations and Communications Manager, DRI

[1] The king’s judgement, recorded by Maghnus Ó Domhnaill, is cited in Herity, Michael, and Aidan Breen. “The Cathach of Colum Cille: An Introduction.” Digital Repository of Ireland. Royal Irish Academy, June 2, 2021.

[2] E.A Lowe quoted in Herity, Michael, and Aidan Breen. “The Cathach of Colum Cille: An Introduction.” Digital Repository of Ireland. Royal Irish Academy, June 2, 2021.