The Irish Community Archive Network (iCAN) has won the “Networks of Archives”’ title in the 2020 Community Archives and Heritage Group (CAHG) national awards which took place via a virtual ceremony on Monday last 26th October.
Established by the National Museum of Ireland’s Education Department in 2008, the iCAN initiative works to encourage and support a network of communities in collecting, preserving, and making accessible their local history and heritage online.
Wicklow is one of three local authorities working in partnership with iCAN, along with Clare and Galway County Councils. Local Authority Heritage Officers have played a critical role in the development of the iCAN partnership model and provide community groups with professional support at local level.
Wicklow has been a member of iCAN since 2014 signing up under the auspices of the Wicklow Heritage Forum. Wicklow was the first county site in the network. Earlier this year, in response to a high level of interest among groups in Wicklow the site developed to a multi-platform website that hosts the County Wicklow Heritage site and five additional community run sites. These are: Medieval Bray Project; Donard History and Heritage; Glens of Lead; Delgany Heritage Village and Glendalough Heritage Forum.
In County Wicklow the network is co-ordinated by the Heritage Officer of Wicklow County Council as an action of the County Wicklow Heritage Plan in association with County Wicklow Archives service and County Wicklow Libraries service. Ongoing support is provided by the National Museum of Ireland.
With much of Ireland’s material and intangible cultural heritage in the care and ownership of its citizens and diaspora, iCAN is empowering local communities to document their own history, heritage and culture on digital platforms.
Nationally the network is proving to be extremely popular with visits to the network’s archive websites growing year on year. Since 2011, iCAN has generated 6 million-page views from all over the world, with 1.5 million of these in the last 12 months.
For local historians, genealogists, emigrants, and teachers, the archives provide rich local information, or “people’s history”, that would otherwise not be documented or readily accessible, particularly for communities overseas, whether its photographs, oral histories, videos or biographical about notable local figures.
A steering group comprising the National Museum of Ireland, the Local Authority Heritage Officer Network, The Heritage Council, Creative Ireland and iCAN community representatives is guiding the continued growth of the national network, and there are ambitions to support the development of at least 130 digital archives across Ireland by 2024.
To visit the Wicklow network of websites visit www.wicklowheritage.org For more information on iCAN visit www.ouririshheritage.org