NI Archive | Home 18 February 2019


 Images of Ireland

Images of Ireland
Phase I

The Images of Ireland exhibition first toured in 2010. It was revived and reinvigorated during this phase of Cultural Fusions. The theme is ‘identity’ – how ideas of Irish, British, Gaelic and Orange identity evolved over the period commonly known as the ‘Celtic Revival’. 

From the mid-nineteenth century, in Ireland, as in many places across Europe, there was a growing interest in cultural identity.  This was linked to Romantic Nationalism that celebrated national historic and artistic traditions.

At the same time local identities were being defined in political terms as a result of the Home Rule crisis. The symbols and iconography used to define Irish and British, Unionist and Nationalist, Protestant and Catholic identity became more prescribed and directly in opposition to each other. We are still living with the legacy of this cultural and political division today.

Project Aims

To enable communities to understand the development of their own cultural identity so that they will build the confidence to engage in dialogue with other communities  

To highlight that the search for identity across this region over one hundred years ago during the Celtic Revival was very similar  to contemporary efforts to shape,  define and understand cultural identity in contemporary times across Northern Ireland 

To discuss the impact of political contexts on the building of nationalism, both Unionist and Nationalist across the region  To highlight and discuss the complexity of both identities and role the Arts have played in the formation of these then as in contemporary times

A booklet was produced on the subject of 'Emblems of Ireland'.
The booklet is free to download,
click here

Exhibition panels are available for community venues. To find out more information please contact
To view the panels online click the links below.

Introduction - click here
Imagining Ireland - click here
Imagining Ireland 2 - click here
Revealing Identity - click here
Revealing Identity 2 - click here
Perceiving Identity  - click here

Phase II
Workshop programme and art exhibition

Phase II worked with local secondary schools exploring their responses to issues of identity as presented through key objects and emblems in our collections.  This project used the Images of Ireland exhibition and the Emblems of Ireland booklet to inform heritage based workshops as a first stage.  The students then worked with artists and used different creative media to capture and share those responses.  Their work was then prepared for display alongside they key imagery they responded to.

Project Aims

To use the Images of Ireland: Politics of Identity 1887-1916 exhibition (delivered under Cultural Fusions phase I) to support students to explore key events and milestones that shaped identity across the North East during this period

To understand how this period still influences community, cultural and political identity in the present and to enable dialogue around this

To encourage the examination of personal identity and its development in relation to local and global relationships and influences

To develop print and ceramic artworks for the Emblems of Ireland exhibition which will harness workshop learning and exploration

To use the touring Emblems of Ireland exhibition as a resource for further engagement on identity issues with students and community groups

Project Results

Delivery of a programme of Images of Ireland  interpretative exhibition tours with students supporting them to identify key political and cultural mile stones which shaped identity locally in the past

Delivery of Emblems of Ireland workshops with students drawing on emblems and icons of identity encountered in Images of Ireland exhibition

Delivery of ceramic workshop programme with students exploring personal and community identity in the present

Delivery of the Emblems of Ireland exhibition showcasing artworks exploring and expressing student identity

Delivery of the Emblems of Ireland exhibition as a simple resource to encourage members of the general public and groups to consider diversity of identity in their locality

To view Images of Ireland collections click here


 Coleraine Council Limavady Council Ballymoney Council Moyle Council Belfast City Council BBC PRONI Northern Ireland Museums CouncilDepartment of Finance and Personnel