The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann champions research. We identify and recognise Ireland’s world class researchers. We support scholarship and promote awareness of how science and the humanities enrich our lives and benefit society. We believe that good research needs to be promoted, sustained and communicated. The Academy is run by a Council of its members. Membership is by election and considered the highest academic honour in Ireland.

Read more about the RIA wins the DRI Community Archive Scheme 2024

13 December 2023

The Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) is delighted to announce the winner of the Community Archive Scheme 2024 –!

Many communities on the island of Ireland have been historically marginalised, and this marginalisation continues to reflect an underrepresentation in traditional memory institutions. The time, effort, and skill that goes into creating community-based archives is often undertaken by individuals or groups working on a voluntary basis or with little funding. 

As a publicly funded repository for Ireland’s social and cultural data, the DRI believes it is important to make long-term preservation of digital materials open to a wide range of organisations, including those operating on low or no funding. 

Digital content is fragile, meaning that community-led archives are at risk of being lost without digital preservation support to ensure ongoing access to digital content over time We, therefore, offer some associate memberships and all the related benefits, as part of our DRI Community Archive Scheme for the length of time it takes a group to add their collection to the Repository.

With this in mind, it is our great pleasure to announce that the winner of the 2024 Community Archive Scheme is Michael Fortune of!


Michael Fortune is many things to many people. Some people know him as an artist and filmmaker, more as an educator, more as a collector of folklore and more as a lover of traditional song. In the late 1990s he picked up a video camera and began collecting stories and accounts in day-care centres, halls, schools and private homes around the country and shared them back to the communities from which they came – a decade before YouTube and social media and the ‘share’ button concept ever came into existence.

In 2016 he began using social media as a tool to share and research content and built up a huge following on his page where he shares content on a daily basis. As a result of his tireless work, he has built up the largest collection of folklore on film in Ireland to date and has managed to capture the voices, accents and stories of a generation of rural people before the transition into the Ireland we have now. 

His work sits as comfortably in an international conference, film festival or gallery, as it does in a day-care centre or in a local village hall. His treatment of his source material is never compromised and he doesn’t make work to suit a certain audience; the material is the material and the audience comes to it.

At the core of Michael’s practice are people and his genuine connection and engagement, plus his inquisitive mind, results in uniquely rich and personal and often unrecorded material. The intimate nature of the relationships with the people and circumstances he encounters, and the subsequent reflective treatment of the material at hand, is a key feature of Fortune’s work.

The Collection – A Bird in the House, God Bless Her

As part of the Community Archive Scheme, Michael will ingest a collection of ancient and contemporary folklore stories that he recorded for a film entitled A Bird in the House, God Bless Her. This film was made with a group of people from the Travelling community in Dublin between 2017 and 2018. 

The collection features material which has never before been recorded on film and stories which have been resigned to past memory and the texts of many a folklore collector. Yet here on the outskirts of Dublin, Michael found people, young and old, whose everyday lives and experiences are interwoven with these stories, beliefs are customs.

Says Michael of the collection:

From the outset it was my intention to record a body of material that would be a living resource which could be shared and watched by the Travelling community themselves; material that immediately had currency and value for those who featured in it and those who could relate to it. For the Community Archive Scheme, I plan to ingest the complete recordings of these conversations – which amounts to six-hours of material. The collection will offer viewers a rare insight into the world of the people recorded; where folklore is not a voiceless story on paper recorded for nostalgia but instead something which is alive, to be celebrated, reflected upon and enjoyed.

The material presented in  A Bird in the House, God Bless Her ranges from rare Easter and May Day customs, personal stories involving fairies, the banshee and shape-shifting hares to more contemporary customs such as blessing cars and acronyms used on Facebook. 

This collection was recorded and produced by Michael Fortune with travellers in the Southside Traveller Action Group (STAG) and was produced as part of a project called Exit 15, which is a partnership between Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council and Voluntary Arts Ireland. The programme was funded under the Arts Council’s Invitation to Collaboration Scheme 2017 and by Dún Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council.

DRI Director Dr Lisa Griffith welcomed our latest member, and had the following to say:

It is with pleasure that we announce the 2024 DRI Community Archive Scheme winner as We at DRI have long been admirers of Michael Fortune and the ‘living online archive’ he has created which preserves the stories and experiences of Irish folklore with skill and empathy – placing those who hold the stories at the centre. ‘A Bird in the House, God Bless Her’ marks the first collection in DRI that specifically focuses on the culture and experiences of the Traveller Community and it is a privilege for the Repository to hold such precious materials. We look forward to providing the very best support for Michael as he commences his ingest journey – digitally preserving and sharing these vital and unique recordings openly with access across the island and further afield through Europeana aggregation. This is the sixth cycle of the DRI Community Archive Scheme. DRI has been privileged to support the memory work of a diversity of community-led archives since its inception, including Tulsk History Society and Bray Arts; Cork LGBT Archive; the Asylum Archive; Cork Community Media Hub; the Elephant Collective; Dublin Ghost Signs; and Dublin-based Community Films by Joe Lee. The collection from will further expand and enrich the record of Ireland’s digital cultural heritage.

For more information about the DRI Community Archive Scheme, please visit our dedicated web page.

Fan ar an eolas le nuachtlitir Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann

Sign up now