Searchable database for Irish Literary Studies
at Washington and Lee University

W&L Irish Literary  Studies

Access the database

What is the Searchable Database?
This is an interactive web resource on Ireland containing more than 5,000 images and other media files. Nearly all of these are digital photos, but QuickTime VR, sound and video files are in the process of being added. All the images are organized using the following categories: county, city or village, historical period, the relevant author, and the type of site (ranging from various human structures to natural landscapes). The scope of these resources is quite broad: from the pre-historic period all the way to the current day, from early Christian monasteries and High Crosses to the Dublin of Joyce’s day, from the landscapes of W.B. Yeats to the Blasket Islands. Although the primary focus of this resource is the literary history and culture of Ireland, we feel quite free to range among many elements of Irish history, society, culture, and geography. Anyone interested in any aspect of Ireland will find much to excite and intrigue in these images.

How does it work?
The database is a fairly standard searchable resource. You may search by category, simply by clicking on the relevant category or categories in which you are interested. For example, you might want to see images related to Yeats’s boyhood countryside of Sligo: just click on "Sligo" under County, and "Yeats" under Author, and 26 "hits" will appear for you to view. Or, you might want to look at the "high cross" (under Human Structures) sites in County "Louth," and 131 "hits" will appear. You can search under multiple terms in the same categories, as well. For example: if you want to search resources pertaining to Dublin, Kerry and Limerick counties (all three at one time), select each county in turn in the County category.

You may also search by “keyword” by clicking the "search by keyword" button at the bottom of the screen, and type in any keywords of interest to you (for example, "Monasterboice" or "Cliffs of Moher") and all occurrences of the keyword in the image caption will appear.

Search results are presented as thumbnail images with brief captions. Click on a thumbnail to view a full-size version of the image. Each of these full-size versions is opened in a separate window to facilitate viewing and allow comparison of two or more images. Clicking on "details" under a full-size image reveals the attributes assigned to the image in the database.

Who made this?
This database is part of the Irish Literary Studies program at Washington and Lee University. This program is the work of Professor Marc C. Conner of the Department of English. Professor Conner teaches several courses in Irish literature at Washington and Lee, and leads a six-week study abroad program to Ireland every other year. Over the course of his travels in Ireland, he has gathered thousands of images and worked to categorize, organize, and file them into this system. To learn more about Irish Literary Studies at W&L, including the study abroad program, courses offered, and numerous other web-based applications, visit the home web site:

Jeff Overholtzer, Director of Technology Education at Washington and Lee, is the project manager for the database. He conceived of this tool as the most effective way of storing and employing the various media contained here, and set in motion the numerous steps involved in constructing the database. In addition, Mr. Overholtzer journeyed to Ireland as part of a joint grant project with Professor Conner in the spring of 2002, and gathered more than 1,300 digital images for the database.

Jeff Knudson, Network Systems Administrator at Washington and Lee, constructed the "indexer" tool used for this database, using Perl, MySQL and Apache2 for the programming and HTML and Java Script for the interface.

What is the purpose of this web resource?
This is an ambitious web-based tool that makes available to all users a variety of media dealing with the literature and landscape of Ireland. The primary purpose is to offer numerous classroom and teaching applications for the instruction of Irish literature. (For an overview of these teaching applications, see the report on the Culpeper Grant that funded some of this work, below). There are, however, a multitude of additional purposes at work here: anyone with an interest in teaching, studying, or learning about Irish literature, history, landscape, culture, geography will find this database an excellent resource. The files are all copyright-free, though we do expect acknowledgement when they are used. It is our hope that this resource will continue to grow and to be of use to anyone interested in the splendors of Irish culture.

Charles E. Culpeper Foundation Grant (2002): see summary report
Association Colleges of the South Grant (2002)
Washington and Lee University Class of 66 Grant (2002)
Numerous individuals who helped with this project: Larry Stene, Department of Art; Hugh Blackmer, Science Library; Skip Williams, University Computing; John Blackburn, University Computing; Carole Bailey, University Computing; Suzanne Keen, Department of English; and student assistants Kevin Cotlove, Carter Thomas, Abigail Wolcott.

Questions or comments?
E-mail Marc Conner at

© 2003, Marc Conner Materials may be reproduced by permission only