Inspiring Ireland: Fully responsive award-winning website showcasing Ireland's cultural heritage
The Royal Irish Academy/Acadamh Ríoga na hÉireann, founded in 1785, is Ireland’s academy for the sciences, humanities and social sciences. The Academy provides expert advice, manages research projects, publishes books and journals and sustains a library. Election to membership of the Academy is the highest academic honour in Ireland.
Annertech built the Academy's Inspiring Ireland website. During handover, RIA said we “were organised, professional, responsive, and clearly competent at every step”. We like to say the same about the RIA.
This website won 3 awards at the Irish eGovernment Awards - Best Open Source Project, Best Promotion of Ireland Abroad, Best Overall Winner. Get the details about the awards Inspiring Ireland won here.
Inspiring Ireland was born out of a passion for Ireland’s arts, and the desire to see Ireland’s cultural heritage preserved and shared across borders for generations to come. It is a collaboration between the Royal Irish Academy, the Digital Repository of Ireland and many Irish cultural organisations, including the National Library, the National Museum, the National Gallery, the National Archives, the Irish Museum of Modern Art, the Crawford Art Gallery, the Chester Beatty Library and the Abbey Theatre.
To make this a reality, the Digital Repository of Ireland and Trinity College Dublin created an API that will allow individuals and organisations to centralise data from many data stores. Annertech was tasked with building the first sample of what could be achieved using this API.
We were excited. APIs. JSON feeds. responsive design. The convergence of culture and code; what more could we ask for?
We worked very closely with our partners in the Digital Repository of Ireland and Trinity College Dublin to standardise our development stacks. We also paid a lot of attention to the API as it was still being finalised while we were building the website. To this end, firstly Mark Conroy built the CMS aspects in Drupal. He then worked on the front end parts of the project, ensuring that the website looked exactly like the designs. While this was happening, Andrew Macpherson was busy developing custom modules and callbacks. These created a bridge between Drupal and the DRI's API and to allow the data that we were pulling to create web pages dynamically. This means the website's data does not need to be updated; rather an update to the central data will automatically update the front end of the Inspiring Ireland website. When we were that far, we enabled Apache Solr to allow for faceted searching of the data objects retrieved, which, again, will all be updated via the central repository.
The results of this partnership are a fully responsive website, based on a very clean, elegant, minimalist design, that meets all the criteria set down by the Royal Irish Academy, showcasing thousands of objects from multiple institutions all within one website. The site was launched by Minister Jimmy Deenihan in Stanford University in time for St Patrick's Day 2014. At the launch, Minister Deenihan commented, “Inspiring Ireland will support the digitisation and preservation of Ireland’s cultural heritage for future generations, showcasing once again Ireland’s growing reputation as a centre for the innovative use of digital technology”.
Inspiring Ireland is a ground-breaking project that preserves, shares, and links digital culture from eight of Ireland's national cultural institutions. For the first time, the public can access high-quality, curated images from different Irish galleries, archives, libraries and museums, all in one place online. The project had significant aesthetic and technical demands – from integrating the Digital Repository of Ireland's API through to implementing the front-end – and Annertech were organised, professional, responsive, and clearly competent at every step.