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PronI At 100

this year sees the one hundredth anniversary of the Public records office of northern Ireland (PronI). this comes at the end of the Decade of Centenaries in Ireland, looking back on events leading up to, and immediately following, the partition of the island, including the Ulster Covenant, the Home rule Bill, the 1913 Lockout, the 1916 Easter rising, the Somme, the first sitting of the Dáil, Partition enacted in 1921 and the Irish Civil War. We spoke to PronI’s Stephen Scarth, Head of Public Services and Garreth montgomery, Archive Photographer, about the state of the photographic archive one hundred years on. PronI was established 22 June 1923 and opened its doors to the public in march 1924, under the Government of Ireland Act. In the previous year, the Public record office of Ireland, based in Dublin, had been destroyed in the Civil War and one of the first acts of the new Deputy keeper David Chart was to collect material which would replace much of what had been lost. PronI is unique in that it holds both state and private collections. the celebration has, according to Scarth, provided an opportunity to relaunch and refocus after the restrictions imposed by the Covid epidemic. they have held a number of public events, looking at ‘a couple of big hitters’, the Declaration of Independence and the Good Friday Agreement, taking an exhibition around the six counties. they have subsequently launched what they call the ‘100 treasures’, consisting of a hundred documents – around a third photographs – selected from the archive, aiming to represent all communities in northern Ireland. We wondered about how

Carrick Castle, Argyll (c.1843) unknown photographer

Christian Place area (1912) Alexander Hogg they go about accepting donated photographic collections, about what criteria they apply when deciding if something should be included in the archive. Scarth said, ‘Generally we respect how the collections been collected. If there’s some kind of order that’s been put onto it, we try to keep that order together. So if you have bundles of street scenes, or, say the titanic or the harbour, we try to replicate that.’ montgomery talked about how the archive provides insights into the history of photography in Ireland (with their earliest example being a calotype from around

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