New digital exhibition celebrates LGBTQ+ families in Ireland

On Friday, July 14, the National Museum of Ireland, in collaboration with RIFNET (Reconstituting the Irish Family Network) unveiled a new digital exhibition entitled ReCollecting the Irish Family. The exhibition consists of items donated from five LGBTQ+ families throughout Ireland. Interviews with the families accompany the pieces, challenging the listener to examine their notions of what “the Irish family” truly means.

Representations of a variety of family structures are important to foster an inclusive society, particularly considering that about a third of Irish families deviate from the traditional family model of two married people who are both in their first marriage.

RIFNET co-leaders and researchers Dr Leanne Calvert and Dr Maeve O’Riordan aim to showcase the diversity of LGBTQ+ and non-traditional families across Ireland that may not be visible in popular culture and media.

Commenting on the importance of the project, Dr O’Riordan added that “it is essential to record the history of LGBTQ+ families so that future generations will know that they too have a history, and that LGBTQ+ experiences are part of Irish history, and the history of the Irish family”.


The digital collection features a sash from a “Mr Wonderbar” pageant held at The George, photos of marriage and civil partnership ceremonies from two different couples, a photo from the Irish AIDS Quilt Tour, and a Star Trek fanzine from 1980 featuring LGBTQ+ fan stories about the series.

“We wanted to capture the ‘messy realities’ of family life in Ireland. The idea of the ‘traditional’ being defined by a married heterosexual couple and their children hides the diverse range of experiences from step-families and blended families, to LGBTQ+ families and everything in between”, Dr Calvert explained.

The digital collection, including photos of the selected objects as well as the interviews with family members, can be accessed here.

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