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News Release

Virtual Ireland launched at Queen’s

25 March 2011 Queen's University, Belfast

Documenting Ireland – Parliament, People and Migration, a virtual library of the history of modern Ireland was today launched at Queen’s University Belfast.  The new virtual resource brings together the story of migration throughout Irish history into one place, a searchable online database.  The online resource has three searchable databases: Enhanced British Parliamentary Paper on Ireland, The Irish Emigration Database and Voices of Migration and Return.

The Enhanced British Parliamentary Paper on Ireland section has over 15,000 official publications relating to all aspects of Irish affairs from 1800-1922. It reveals the social context of Irish migration by documenting the combination of social and political conditions, famine and economic conflicts, and population pressures that propelled people to leave their homes. They also record government regulation of emigration, debates over ‘colonization’ and state assistance.

The Irish Emigration Database offers a wide range of sources covering all aspects of emigrant experience between the 18th and mid-20th centuries. At its heart lie the many narratives of migration experience captured and preserved in emigrant letters and memoirs.

Voices of Migration and Return is an oral history archive of 200 hours of personal narratives of emigrants and return migrants from the province of Ulster captured and available on digital audio. This brings the migration story right up to date through people’s own voices recounting their lives from the 1950s to the recent past. It includes the stories of a Tyrone woman who spent two periods as a midwife in Africa, and a Co. Down man who worked in weather stations in the Canadian arctic before returning to Northern Ireland in the 1960s.

Project Director, Professor Peter Gray said: “The launch of this virtual library is very important not just for historians, but for those who are curious about their ancestors, as well as being a learning resource for schools and a source of information for anyone with an interest in Irish history.

“Ireland’s history since the 18th century has been marked by cycles of emigration and immigration, often associated with great trauma but also connecting the island with the world through global networks of family and memory.  With another period of extensive emigration now seemingly looming, our attention is turning again towards understanding why people migrate, how they make life-changing migration choices, and how the experience of migration has been expressed.

“Understanding our past history, personal, family and collective, may help us understand our present and make better sense of it. This resource will help users put together the story of Irish migration over time, whether their interest lies in tracing ancestors, locating their locality within the global networks of movement, or looking at the bigger picture of how migration has and continues to shape Ireland, north and south.”

The DIPPAM virtual library is available online to everybody and may be of particular interest to people involved in research the history of their locality or family, and for use in school history projects.

Attached files

  • Project Director Professor Peter Gray

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