The Irish Community Archive Network (iCAN) invites Wicklow residents to explore, contribute and get involved in community archives

Irish Community Archive Wicklow final

An event was held in Wicklow yesterday to mark a new chapter for the award-winning Irish Community Archive Network (iCAN), the leading organisation championing and supporting community archives in Ireland.

Since 2009, iCAN has supported the creation of 33 online digital archives in Clare, Cork, Galway, Mayo, including 7 in Co Wicklow. Over 180 volunteers are involved in managing and supporting the existing community archives.

Deirdre Burns, Heritage Officer, Wicklow said;

“Wicklow County Council is delighted to be involved in this initiative. Our participation in ICAN is helping us to deliver on actions of the County Wicklow Heritage Plan by creating a living archive for county Wicklow, a way to connect landscape, people, and places. As an open access digital platform, it is transformative for all involved, supporting the work of local communities and giving them the tools to curate the heritage of their local area and to share this with the global Wicklow diaspora.”


iCAN was established by the National Museum of Ireland and has been developed in partnership with participating local authority Heritage Officers and with support from Creative Ireland* The heritage Council is joining iCAN as a new funding partner, which will facilitate an expansion of the initiative and the iCAN team. Together, they have ambitions to support the development of at least 80 digital archives across Ireland by 2028.

iCAN community archive websites are contributory, which means that anyone, anywhere in the world can contribute their photos, maps, letters, records, stories and documents to help build the collections. As well as documenting information about local heritage sites, traditions and well-known local people, the archives are also a valuable source for genealogy and ancestry projects.

Many of the archives also include oral histories and videos and valuable resources such as local ‘census’ documents dating from before the Famine, and visitors can access digital and searchable archives relating to specific graveyards, townlands, and even houses – which in turn gives a unique and valuable insight into family records. 

Director of the National Museum of Ireland, Lynn Scarff said;

“Inclusivity and collaboration are at the core of iCAN, by recognising collective ownership and empowering local communities to document their own history, heritage, and culture on digital platforms. We are ambitious to support the growth of iCAN nationwide because every community deserves the opportunity to build their own digital archive that recognises the unique value of these resources both for the community and historians into the future. Much of this material is either in people’s homes, memories or in resources unique to their local community – so they are uniquely placed to record it and preserve if for future generations.”


The diaspora uses the iCAN community archives to connect with local groups, who in turn assist with their family history enquiries. These connections frequently result in visits to Ireland with the local group bringing visitors to ancestral homes and graves and re-connecting them with unknown or lost family members.

Several of the archives also have volunteers who are based abroad in countries such the US and Australia. The iCAN network has been visited 2,244,000 times by visitors from 215 countries, or 16,000 cities, across the world – more than 5,750,000 pages of Irish heritage content have been explored.

Members of the iCAN network from around the country gathered in Wicklow yesterday to celebrate the continued expansion of the network.

In 2020, iCAN was awarded the ‘Best Network of Archives Award’ at the highly competitiveUK and Ireland Community Archive and Heritage Group (CAHG) Annual Awards. Individual members of the iCAN network have also been the recipients of county, national and international awards for their heritage work and projects.

Members of the public are invited to visit, contribute to and to volunteer with the digital archives in the Irish Community Archive Network (iCAN). The full list of archives is available at

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