UL digitises its 10,000 strong photo archive

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

Under construction: This image taken circa 1973 shows the campus under construction, with work taking place nearly Plassey House
AS part of the UL40 celebrations, a project is underway to organise and digitise the University of Limerick’s photographic archives, including some iconic scenes and momentous moments throughout its four decades at Plassey.

AS part of the UL40 celebrations, a project is underway to organise and digitise the University of Limerick’s photographic archives, including some iconic scenes and momentous moments throughout its four decades at Plassey.

The photos document the history of the university, the rise of the campus from its very first building, student protests, famous faces who have walked its corridors, and images of the very first class in 1972.

Staff at the Glucksman Library on campus are undertaking this mammoth task, sifting through as many as 10,000 images, but are seeking the public’s help in naming those in the pictures.

“We will digitise, describe and upload the photos to our new digital library, however in the meantime we are making some available on Flickr Commons in an effort to increase access to them and gather information,” explained Sinead Keogh of the Glucksman Library.

“The photos of students are the most difficult to describe so we are hoping that some past UL students will find themselves or friends and add comments to the pictures to help us.”

At present they have 94 photos on their Flickr site, but there are hundreds more which have yet to be uploaded, including some famous faces such as King Don Juan Carlos of Spain receiving his honorary degree.

There is even an image of the famous actor Cillian Murphy attending an open day at the campus in the 1990s when he was a fifth year student at the Presentation Brothers school in Cork.

Nicola O’Shea who has spent six months working on the project also unearthed images of Johnny Cash and Kris Kristofferson during a visit to the University Concert Hall in 1993.

Almost 65,000 students have graduated from UL in the past 40 years and beginning with 113 “pioneering students who took a chance on a new and very different third-level institution in 1972”, said the current president, Professor Don Barry.

UL, then the NIHE, accepted its first cohort of students on October 2, 1972. At that time there was only one building on campus; now there are 40 buildings spread across more than 330 acres in two counties, with the €16m Living Bridge linking counties Limerick and Clare.

From humble beginnings – when there were just six books in the UL library – its alumni are now working in 78 countries worldwide, from Algeria to Trinidad.

- To see the images go to the digital library. Up to 50 images will be uploaded there every week and the public are invited to add comments to the images.