National Archives of Ireland Director Orlaith McBride introduces their extensive programme of events commemorating the centenary of the 1921 Anglo-Irish Treaty - find out more here.

This is an important time for the National Archives, one that we have been planning over many months. 2021 and 2022 mark significant events in the history of the State but also mark a significant moment for the National Archives as the keepers of the State's memory in the form of its written records.

All the records of the State are deposited in the National Archives. These records tell the story of the evolution of the State from its early revolutionary days into a modern democracy. We acquire, conserve and protect these records, thereby ensuring their availability as a resource for current and future generations.

These records relate to the social, cultural, economic and political history of the island of Ireland from the Middle Ages through to the establishment of the Irish Free State in 1922 and into the modern era. Amongst its collections is perhaps the most famous document in Irish history: the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921

The two sides take their places at the Treaty talks table in 10 Downing Street
(Credit: Illustrated London News/Alamy)

As part of Ireland's Decade of Centenaries, we have developed a programme of events that not only commemorate momentous historical events and political figures but also recall the everyday experience of ordinary people living in extraordinary times. Historical accuracy, academic integrity, and archival discovery are key tenets of the Decades of Centenaries Programme, which seeks to engage and foster a deeper understanding of the complexities of our past and the multiple identities, traditions and perspectives that are part of the overall Irish historical experience. Our programme by placing the records at the centre attempts to do just that. The authenticity of the archival record is fundamental to our programme.

As part of our programme of events for 2021 we felt that the National Archives should mark the centenary of the signing of the Treaty by presenting a major exhibition of records in its possession relating to the negotiation and signing of the Treaty. Using the Treaty as the centrepiece, this exhibition places significant documents from the collections of the National Archives on public display for the first time.

Orlaith McBride, Director of the National Archives

The Treaty exhibition is accompanied by a series of commemoration programme initiatives aimed at encouraging historical enquiry and promoting the widest possible interest and use of primary archival sources. The National Archives has commissioned an Artist-in-Residence, John Beattie to engage with its collections, to reflect in imaginative ways on the contemporary resonance of particular episodes from the 1921-23 period.

As part of its digitisation programme, the records of the Constitution Committee 1922 will be made publicly accessible.

A programme of workshops, curated talks and public discussion has been designed to bring our collections to life and make them relevant by exploring the impact and legacy of the events that occurred during the revolutionary period, including the international dimension and the experience of women. By supporting scholarly, collaborative and creative responses, the National Archives will activate its holdings to enable an open, diverse and inclusive commemoration of the final, challenging years of Ireland’s Decade of Centenaries.

More information on the National Archives 2021 Commemoration Programme can be found here - admission to all events is free.