In 2007 the Cedar Lounge Revolution decided to initiate and host the Irish Left Online Document Archive. This was intended to be an online archive of materials relating to the Irish left with documents, leaflets, pamphlets, posters and newspapers from the latter half of the 20th century placed online in PDF format, freely accessible and easily downloadable and reproducible for those who are interested.
Over the years the scope of the Irish Left Archive has grown considerably and now includes at least some sample materials from the major political formations on the island. However, large gaps still remain both chronologically and in terms of individual groups or formations.
In 2013 the Irish Left Archive had grown to encompass about 300 documents and it was decided to create a new database website to make the work that went into the archive more accessible. This site aims to allow readers to find documents from particular organisations, publications and time periods more easily, while documents continue to be posted to the CLR where the regular discussions have been invaluable in contextualising the materials and providing corrections. It is further hoped that this site will make it easier to identify gaps in the archive’s coverage and encourage readers to donate documents and provide missing information or corrections to the existing material.
The rationale for the Archive is quite straightforward. Firstly it’s a good way for developing an informal but reasonably comprehensive history of the Irish left.
But perhaps most importantly this is intended as a general historical resource, open to all irrespective of political position. The Archive is not linked to any political party, and no judgement is made, beyond points regarding quality of production, on these documents in the accompanying texts.
The Archive hopes to encompass materials from all on the left including those from Socialist, Social Democrat, Green, Marxist, Republican, Anarchist, Feminists, Trade Unions, campaigning groups, left and progressive Unionist voices and other groups on the island of Ireland, or with connections to Irish politics (for examples there are formations in the UK which are linked to Irish parties). But interesting or progressive noises from Fine Gael or Fianna Fáil are also of interest. Further areas include reflections upon the Irish left from organisations of the left and other ideological positions both in Ireland and outside of Ireland (for example there is a particularly interesting document in the Archive from the UK based unionist lobby group ‘Friends of the Union’ from the 1980s). There is no particular time span.
The ILA was started by Ciarán Swan and the website was created by Aonghus Storey, who both maintain the project as co-curators. Ciarán works full-time in the area of political imagery and lectured in Visual Culture at the National College of Art and Design from 2004 to 2016. Ciarán’s has conducted research on the visual and political identity of Irish political parties between 1977 and 1997 and his doctoral research was centred on state and semi-state identity and imagery on the island of Ireland, North and South, in the 20th century. Aonghus studied politics and ethnomusicology at QUB and works in web development.
We’d like to hear from anyone who is interested in contributing to this project. Any queries about donations to the archive or any aspect of the archive can be forwarded to Aonghus and Ciarán via the contact page or by email at firstname.lastname@example.org.