Irish Record Linkage, 1864-1913 Project

Irish Record Linkage is a project funded by the Irish Research Council, and developed in partnership with the Digital Repository of Ireland, University of Limerick and Insight at NUI Galway.

This project uses pre-digitised births, deaths and marriages records, generously shared by the Office of the Registrar General. These vital registration records are stored and used in line with data protection best practice for the research purposes of the IRL project. Semantic Web and Linked Data technologies are applied to create a platform to store and link the records. The resulting platform will provide a powerful research resource to enable the University of Limerick’s project participants to study Irish infant and maternal mortality rates and patterns during this period of Irish history. The project aims to provide a comprehensive map of infant and maternal mortality for Dublin from 1864-1913.

Archives & Linked Data
Linked Data involves publishing structured data on the Web, allowing it to be connected and
enriched and facilitating linking between related resources. Linked Data refers to data published on the Web following a set of principles designed to promote linking between entities. An essential requirement to enable this linking is that each entity (for example a personal name) is given a unique identifier, generally in the form of a Uniform Resource Identifier (URI). Having determined these URI identifiers, Linked Data reuses other data models such as the Resource Description Framework (RDF) to specify the links, and their type, between two URIs. As well as serving the purpose of identifying and expressing the objects, the assignment of a URI removes any ambiguity between people of the same name; a key concern in relation to vital registration data from 19th and early 20th century Ireland.

Linked Data is an incredibly powerful tool when applied to archives collections as it has the potential to greatly enrich archival cataloguing and searching. Translating archival catalogues into Linked Data allows for linking to other digitised collections and reveal interrelations in vast archival collections. There is also great potential to enrich collections through providing further contextual information; for example by linking to geographic coordinates, place name information or statistical information.

Using Linked Data can greatly benefit the archival community as it enables archives services to keep pace with the digital environment, meet ever increasing online access demands and provide a rich resource for stakeholders.The Linked Logainm project, launched by the DRI in September 2013, demonstrates the significance of Linked Data for cultural institutions. Linked Logainm is a Linked Data version of the database, providing Irish place name data in computer readable formats. The project greatly enriched this bilingual authoritative list of place names by enhancing searchability and linking to appropriate maps; thus allowing its value to be fully exploited by users. A Location LODer demonstrator website was also created to provide an interactive introduction to the potential of Linked Logainm. (

Project Methodology
A key initial step in this project is the ontology construction, engineered by the Linked Data
specialists. This ontology is driven by key research questions and will influence the construction of the platform, and later, what information can be extracted. The next stages in the project will involve data ingest, setting up the Linked Data infrastructure and data preparation and curation, following best practice in digital archiving.
This project will also demonstrate some of the potential of the significance of Linked Data,
particularly for the archives community. I look forward to updating you all further on the project as it progresses. Please see for project updates and more information.
For further information on the work of the Digital Repository of Ireland, please see
Dolores Grant
IRL-DRI Digital Archivist, Digital Repository of Ireland

First published in the Archives and Records Association Summer newsletter 2014.

One comment

  1. Great to see how record linkage can make a difference with major projects such as yours. We’ve certainly seen that across many industry verticals, and as you mention, linked data can greatly benefit the archival community.

    Linda Boudreau
    Data Ladder


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