The Abbey Theatre and National University of Ireland, Galway, have entered into a partnership to digitise the archive of the Abbey Theatre. The partnership was launched on 22 October 2012 by Ireland’s President, Michael D. Higgins. It is the largest digital theatre project ever undertaken, and heralds a new era of scholarship for Irish theatre internationally. The digitisation process has already begun and is based on the NUI Galway campus in the James Hardiman Library.
The Abbey archive is one of the world’s most significant archival collections, running to almost 2 million pages. 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.
The digital Abbey archive will be a major addition to the existing collection of literary and cultural archives at NUI Galway. The James Hardiman Library holds over 350 collections, dating from 1485 to the present. Theatre collections include the papers of Thomas Kilroy and the Shields Family Collection and there is a particular focus on the archives of companies such as the Druid Theatre, Taibhdhearc na Gaillimhe and the Lyric Players Theatre in Belfast.