Today marks the ninth and final day of ARA’s #ExploreYourArchive focus week, and what a week it’s been! To close it out, we’re returning to the IAR with a post all about more ways that our site can be used to help you and your research into Irish archival collections .In yesterday’s post we took a look at how the Explore All Archives page can be used to browse the collections contributed to the IAR. Collections can also be found through the simple search and the advanced search.

How do I search the collections contributed to the IAR?

The simple search is best to use when there is a specific keyword, place, organisation, name, or period of time you are hoping to research, such as ‘Guinness’, ‘healthcare, or ‘famine’. Simply fill in the search bar with what you’re looking for and click ‘search’.  The search will be performed across the title, description, creators, scope and content of all collections contributed to the site. It is best to keep these searches as simple as possible, using short general terms to ensure you find collections that fit your search.

If you’re bounced back to a screen with the phrase “Sorry, but there were no records to match your search criteria. Please try again.” there may be a chance that we do not yet have any content from collections that contain themes and subjects you’re looking for.

The Advanced Search can be a great way to find collections searching by the collection type, county, year range, repository, or reference number. With this function, you can also add multiple levels to your search. Take for example you want to find any collections that contain reference to the G.A.A. that originate from or have a strong connection to County Tipperary, enter terms such as ‘Gaelic football’, ‘G.A.A’ or ‘hurling’ to the keyword field, and refine the county to Tipperary. The IAR will then return any collections that match your search.

Once you have found the collection you’ve been looking for, scroll down to the Conditions of Access & Use section to find a direct link to the collection’s finding aid. By clicking on the Archive Web Link, you will be redirected to the repository’s site where you will be able to find more information about how to access the collection, and a finding aid or descriptive list of the contents of the collection that has sparked your interest. 

Education and Irish Archives

In addition to promoting access to archival collections through our search functions, the IAR is also committed to improving education and introducing students to the importance of archival collections. Through research and collaboration with our contributors, our moderators have put together a number of educational resource packs and document in focus posts that explore some of the key themes and events to have occurred throughout Irish history, retelling these stories through archival records and documents. These packs and posts have been curated to link in with the junior and senior cycle curriculums in both the north and the south. The packs are freely available to download through the IAR website and a number of print copies of the resource packs have also been made available for use in schools and education groups. Please contact for more information.

With this information on how to search the IAR and the education packs we have available on our site, it is time for us to say goodbye and thank you for joining us on what has been a fantastic #ExploreYourArchive week! Happy searching the Irish Archives Resource and all that Irish archives have to offer over the festive season.

Róisín Costello, Records Manager

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