Through the Portal

The Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht with staff from the National Archives viewing displayed manuscripts

Heather Humphreys, Minister for Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht; Hazel Menton, Senior Archivist; Tom Quinlan, Acting Director and Aideen Ireland, all of the National Archives

A frequently deployed phrase, annoying to archivists, refers to ‘treasures locked away in the archives’. The implication is that archivists have a proprietorial attitude to the heritage materials in their care and dislike letting other people get their hands on it. Nothing could be further from the truth; all archivists and manuscripts curators expend much energy in figuring out how to communicate the existence and availability of the many research collections held in repositories up and down the country.

The latest venture is a re-launch to the Irish Archives Resource, a free online database containing searchable descriptions from repositories all over Ireland, north and south. IAR is supported by the Archives and Records Association, Ireland and the School of History and Archives in UCD, and is managed by a voluntary steering group. It has been funded by the Heritage Council, the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht, and the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Northern Ireland. The portal ( was launched on 17 September by Minister Heather Humphreys, TD, in the company of Michael Starrett CEO of the Heritage Council and David Huddleston representing the Department of Culture, Arts and Leisure, Northern Ireland.

IAR screen shotTrinity College Library is the largest presence on the site having contributed information on thirty-four collections which include medieval deeds, maps, family and estate papers, political collections and literary papers, sports-related archives and archives of Trinity College itself.

IAR offers help to archives services wishing to provide content to the portal and may be contacted at The great benefit in this is that archives services, with an undeveloped online presence, can communicate with potential users through this portal.

There is also a very entertaining flickr gallery of images drawn from all contributing archives services.

Jane Maxwell

The Irish Times article on the launch