Ireland 2016 Centenary Programme
Department of Culture, Heritage and the Gaeltacht
Crafting a commemoration
Being Irish is more complicated, more diverse and more interesting than we might sometimes acknowledge. The 2016 Easter Rising centenary commemorations offered an opportunity to explore these intricacies with a once-in-a-lifetime invitation to everyone.
If, that is, we’d take it.
Economic storms, divisive violence and ideological hijacking had left some of us feeling uneasy or apathetic about where our place was in the upcoming commemorations.
A Year for Everyone
By creating digital content that represented as much of the conversations, stories and culture surrounding the centenary as possible, bigO helped democratise the year.
Firstly, the Ireland 2016 Programme Team engaged partners such as local authorities, government agencies and cultural and educational institutes in order to create an inclusive and far-reaching programme of events. This formed the backbone of our comprehensive content plan.
The content we made was engaged with and shared at home and abroad. During Easter week, the hashtag #Ireland2016 trended outside of Ireland. While Twitter users here registered more than half a million tweets about the centenary. Facebook’s organic reach hit numbers of 300k and there were almost one and half a million visits to (what was then) Ireland.ie.
But beyond facts and figures, the Ireland 2016 Programme injected a sense of pride into our country, a curiosity into our yesteryear and reinforced a belief that our culture really is our currency.
In the lead up the centenary celebrations in March 2016, there were almost 1.5 million visits to Ireland.ie while Dublin's Easter commemorations were the second largest civic gathering in the State’s history
Words & Website
Our approach was also highly collaborative. We teamed up with Post to design the award-winning Ireland 2016 website Ireland.ie, while our writers liaised with the initiative’s partners to write and upload more than 1,000 commemorative event descriptions.
Content was kept fresh by commissioning several articles from well-known historians and writers. In addition, our team wrote more than 100 engaging stories and news items on topics such as Last Letters, Last Words, The Children of 1916, Portraits and Lives and 10 Facts… and also curated commemoration-specific landing pages such as The Executed.
During the height of the commemorations at Easter, Ireland.ie received a staggering 1.25 million page views.
Building a Community
bigO curated, created and managed all of the Ireland 2016 Twitter, Facebook and Instagram posts, rapidly building a unique and vibrant community. We learned early on that people respond to people, so we developed the hashtags #RevolutionaryWomen #PeopleOfTheRising and #StreetsOf1916 to share the untold individual stories of people living during this time.
By Easter 2016, just a few short months after their inception, these social channels’ organic reach hit unprecedented numbers. But most importantly, it was this social engagement that helped drive footfall as thousands of people attended centenary events nationwide.
Our national tongue was a key motif in this project. We translated all events, stories, videos and a third of all social posts into Irish.
Old Stories, New Eyes
Working with Google and the Ireland 2016 Programme Team, we helped create a very special virtual tour. Through a combination of archive images, unseen film footage and witness statements, the story of this moment in Ireland’s history was brought to life for the visitor.
Dublin Rising, a Google Street View piece, was narrated by Colin Farrell and proved to be one of the most popular projects of the Ireland 2016 Programme, trending on Twitter the day it was released.
We also trawled through archive libraries and pulled together a collection of compelling images. We then teamed up with a restoration expert who re-mastered and colourised each image, 1916 in Colour brought the photos’ vivid detail to life and provided a new perspective on the Rising.
Our video strategy was to engage people through their interests, creating beautifully executed, shareable pieces of content.
We profiled artists and the cultural projects the Ireland 2016 Programme helped fund. For those with an interest in history, we created documentary-style pieces led by some of Ireland’s top academics and historians. For culture lovers, we contemporised poetry and prose from that time, product-placing event programmes within shareable pieces of content.
We created emotive spots to coincide with topical events such as International Women’s Day, with the role of women in the Rising a key continuous theme throughout the year.
Women of Ireland 2016 | 1916 received more than 300,000 views and was shared across news sites and blogs throughout Ireland on International Women’s Day.