Recently I was asked by an MA research student to give some background about Irish Writers Online. A most gratifying request, of course, and so I set about looking up its history and stats. I was pleasantly surprised to see that in 2009, visitors from 170 countries had made use of it. I knew it had been above the 120 countries mark, but this was nice news. I was even more pleasantly surprised to discover that the Internet Archive Wayback Machine had early versions of the prototype of Irish Writers Online, which was then called after The Fabulists, after my first novel.
By Jan 28, 1999, there is a record of the site as 20th Century Irish Writers
It also has versions of Irish Writers Online dating from late 2000, which is also handy to have.
You can also see Cyclopedia-Ireland, an early version Irish Culture Guide, dating from April 23, 2001.Some versions have this epigraph:
The best thing for being sad is to learn something
-Merlin the Magician
What that says about me, or me then, I’m not sure. As far as I recall I got that quote from an old book, but I can’t be certain.
By 2002, I’d found Cyclopedia-Ireland a bit too much to live up to and had settled for the more modest Irish Culture Guide (2002 version.. This is how Irish Writers Online and Irish Culture Guide look today, in case you haven’t seen them recently!
Needless to say, I’d lost a lot of the above over the years – computer crashes, new computers, or simply overwriting, so it’s great that the Internet Archive Wayback Machine has copies of a lot of it. It’s an imperfect record, with a lot of pages missing, but it’s way better than nothing and a tribute to the foresight of the founders.
And it’s nice to see that Kavanagh’s dictum on poetry holds true for web design – the journey ‘from simplicity to simplicity.’