National Library announces year-long LGBTI+ programme

Physical and online events will explore LGBTI+ identity and experiences in Ireland

A year-long programme exploring Irish LGBTI+ identity and experiences over the last several decades to the present has been announced by the National Library of Ireland (NLI).

It includes a physical and online exhibition of the work of activist Christopher Robson as well as a number of LGBTI+ online events.

The online events have been co-curated with the National Library by Tonie Walsh, veteran LGBTI+ rights activist, journalist and founder of the Irish Queer Archive and include virtual talks, readings, workshops, panel discussions and events for children and young people.

The first event, entitled Lived lives: The Irish Queer Archive, takes place on Wednesday, March 31st.


The Christopher Robson photographic exhibition will launch this summer, Covid-19 restrictions permitting, both at the NLI's National Photographic Archive in Temple Bar and online.

Robson was a founding member of the Gay and Lesbian Equality Network (GLEN). His photographic collection of around 2,000 slides, which document LGBTI+ life and activism in Ireland, was donated to the National Library in 2015 by his civil partner Bill Foley and GLEN.

The exhibition will focus on Robson’s photography, life, activism and achievements, while the accompanying events programme facilitates “a closer look at many of the themes and issues raised by his photographs”.

Sandra Collins, director of the NLI, said: "As Ireland's memory-keeper the Library is committed to collecting, preserving and sharing the story of Ireland in all its rich diversity.

“This includes historically lesser-told and marginalised narratives, like that of Ireland’s LGBTI+ community. The library’s collections are for everyone, and we are a place of welcome for all. It is important to us that diverse groups feel seen and listened to in the library’s collections and in its wider work; and that they feel visible, respected and included.”

Mr Walsh said Ireland has followed a "remarkable trajectory in terms of LGBTI+ liberation and equality, in legal recognition and public attitudes".

“A programme of this scale and sort, mounted by a national cultural institution, would have been unthinkable not too long ago,” he said. “It is my hope that the wide-ranging series of events will allow Ireland’s LGBTI+ community to take stock of where it has come from and consider where it is going next.”

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns

Sarah Burns is a reporter for The Irish Times