A digital journey through Irish Theatre history

A digital journey through Irish Theatre history

Abbey Theatre and NUI Galway launch a Digital Archive Partnership

The Abbey Theatre and NUI Galway have come together to digitise the Abbey Archive for future generations.

This digitisation project will unlock a new era of theatre scholarship and will shed new light on the history of Irish theatre and Irish life.

The Abbey archive, which contains over 1.8 million items, is one of the world’s most significant archival collections. It has a wealth of extraordinary and unique material providing a fascinating insight into Irish theatre, history, culture and society. The archival material ranges from show posters, programmes, photographs, minute books to lighting plans, set and costume designs, sound cues, prompt scripts and audio files.

This digitisation project began in September and will take place over a three to four -year period. The digitisation process, which is currently taking place on the NUI Galway campus, will bring together multidisciplinary teams of the University’s researchers, students and archivists to realise this exciting project.

The earliest item in the Abbey archive actually precedes the founding of the Abbey Theatre. It is an 1894 poster of the first production of The Land of Heart’s Desire by W.B. Yeats, which was performed at the Avenue Theatre in London and is reflective of Yeats’ ambition to present Irish theatre outside Ireland. Other archival gems reveal that Éamon De Valera trod the Abbey stage as Dr. Kelly in an amateur production of A Christmas Hamper in 1905. Even our own Irish James Bond had a presence on the Abbey stage when in 1964 Donal McCann played Seamus Bond with Angela Newman as Puísín in the Christmas pantomime Aisling as Tír na nÓg. Part of the Abbey Archive was damaged as a result of the devastating effects of the fire of 1951 and some archival artefacts are in a fragile condition due to age.

If you would like to search our archive, please click here.

View the online coverage of the project:

RTÉ Radio 1 Morning Ireland (Monday, 22 October 2012)

RTÉ Six One News (Monday, 22 October 2012)

Irish Times (Monday, 22 October 2012)

Silicon Republic (Monday, 22 October 2012)

Irish Times (Tuesday, 23 October 2012)

Irish Independent (Tuesday, 23 October 2012)

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Well done Mairead on all your work

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