MARCH 14th 2017

After   some  deliberations   with  my  project   colleagues  we decided that  the  best course of action to take in order to collect information regarding Thoor Ballylee/Yeats Tower  was to search the online catalogue of the Architectural Archives on Merrion Square, Dublin 2.    I did in-fact  find   a   number  of     useful    books,  paper   clippings

Source: Architectural Archives

and engravings for Yeats Tower and a lovely model sized replica table that sits in one of the rooms of the tower.  After discovering these items I called the Irish Architectural Archive to arrange an appointment for the 14th of March 2017.  Gavin, Maria and I met at a cafe beside Pearse Street train station and walked up to Architectural offices in Merrion Square for our 11:00 am appointment.  When we arrived there, we put our coats and bags in the lockers provided in the basement cloakroom and made our way to the reception.  I filled out my details on a registration form   and   received    my

Irish Architectural Reader’s card

reader’s card from the staff member. He then kindly brought out the materials I had requested by phone.  The staff member brought out a periodical called Thoughts on Thoor Ballylee by Joseph M. Hassett (1986); a pamphlet which had illustrations and pen and ink sketch plans of Thoor Ballylee by Liam Miller & Mary Hanley (1977) and a book called the W.B. Yeats’ Banqueting Table by Oliver Hennessy (1993).  In addition to the reading and illustrative material, the archive also had a replica scale model of a table that adorns one of the tower’s rooms.  We searched through all the material and photographed all the relevant illustrations that might help us with scale and texture of the tower.

Gavin suggested that we ask the staff member on duty about the possibility of the archive having architectural plans from a refurbishment of the Tower in 1963 by the architect Dermot O’Toole.

Photo taken by Gavin MacCallister.

This   was a long-shot, but we needed more information on the Tower, if we were to be successful in our project.  The staff member checked for us and to our astonishment, the archive did have the plans. We immediately set up our camera and unrolled the plans on the table.  We took turns taking the photos of all the refurbishment plans and uploaded the RAW images to our laptop to use at at a later date.  Then we rolled the plans back up and gathered all our reading material together and returned them to the staff member at the reception and left the archive.


FEBRUARY 16th 2017

Source: National Library of Ireland

After some preliminary meetings with my project colleagues, we decided to take a trip to the National Library of Ireland to conduct a fact finding exercise on Thoor Ballylee or Yeats Tower as it is better known.  Gavin, Maria and I met at a really nice coffee house called Java Republic at 10:30 am where we met Neale Rooney who is a departmental representative from Maynooth University. Neale  accompanied us to library in order to familiarise and help us find the material we were looking for.

At 11:00 am we arrived at the National Library of Ireland on Kildare Street, Dublin 2, and proceeded to register and get our photographic identifications.

National Library of Ireland Photographic Identification

When we entered the library, we read all the rules and regulations in relation to handling and photographing the materials and signed a form that was required before our reading material was given to us. When the negatives came out to us, a problem arose with permission with some/all the material in relation to copyright.  At that point the staff member asked Neale to contact the legal agents for the Yeats estate for permission to photograph the negatives.   The negatives themselves were not really sufficient for making a 3-D model of the tower so we decided to go to the Yeats exhibition which was in another part of the building to see if we could find anything in there.

The exhibition was very good but again, it lacked anything that we could use in our projects, so we decided to move onto plan B which was the Architectural Archives in Merrion Square, Dublin 2.


3-D Modelling Proposal by Maria Zoumaki,  Gavin McAllister & Justin Martin.

Title: Thoor-Ballylee – The home of William Butler Yeats

Thoor Ballylee by Justin Martin

Case Study: The virtual construction of W.B. Yeats tower and its environs at Thoor-Ballylee Co. Galway.

Why a reconstruction:  It is agreed that the above reconstruction of Thoor-Ballylee be done in order to provide a better understanding of the entire site and its environs both inside and outside.

Firstly, it is the centenary of the Yeats family acquiring and residing at Thoor-Ballylee.

Secondly, the tower is regularly photographed from two different angles, so there are sections of the residence that are under-represented in terms of photography.  In addition, there is limited photographic documentation available from the inside of the tower; so we have decided to construct the 3-D model of Thoor-Ballylee using a photo-realistic representation of the building in order to capture the essence of the tower that inspired Yeats. While the monument has therefore been almost continually occupied for nearly five hundred years, we will concentrate on the last phase of that occupation which is how the tower looks today.

Reconstruction Context:  Museum Context

As a celebratory occasion to mark the one hundred year anniversary, the  case study in question  could be included in the forthcoming exhibition at the National Museum displaying a virtual tour of the tower. More specifically, the visitors would have the opportunity to  navigate themselves around the four rooms and floors of Yeats tower and the  landscape environment outside of the tower.

The National Library of Ireland could offer it’s audience a unique experience during the forth-coming exhibition by  allowing the visitors to become intimately acquainted with the tower exterior and it’s interior through a realistic viewpoint that will display the many textures and colours of the tower. Through additional multimedia means like Vue, Poser, Mudbox, the overall sense and aesthetic of the tower and its landscape [bridge, attached cottage, original features]  could be approached through visualisation, to give one a real sense of what the tower looked like during Yeats’ occupation

Available Data:

In order for the above modelling technique to be achieved, the data that is going to be utilised refers to drawings, photographic data-sets and correspondences relating to Thoor-Ballylee. Specifically, we are going to utilize Yeats’ collection form the National Library of Ireland from the below archive boxes:

  • MS 30,731: Materials relating to the restoration of tower at Thoor-Ballylee which includes photographs of the tower and as well Coole Park.
  • MS 30,860: Accounts and letters from architect Scott relating to Thoor-Ballylee and also sketches, plans etc. (32 pp., letters, 5 sketches/plans)
  • MS 30,881: Photostats of TS list of Thoor-Ballylee, furnishings etc (8 pp.)

in order to enrich our visualization both geometrical and with textural accuracy.


Hanley, Mary (Liam Miller ED.), Thoor Ballylee; home of William Butler Yeats. Edited by Liam Miller from a paper given by Mary Hanley to the Kiltartan Society in 1961. With a foreword by T.R. Henn.


My name is Justin Martin and I am currently doing an MA in Digital Humanities at Maynooth University for the academic year 2016/17. In the last few years I experienced a small amount of digitisation through the research I had done on my undergraduate thesis Augustan Coinage: Imagery & Symbolism.  It was during this period that I frequented and researched many numismatic databases that specifically dealt with coins from antiquity.  These databases or digital platforms were designed to showcase numismatic images along with their historical biographies and physical characteristics.

After finishing my (TSM) Bachelor’s Degree in Ancient History/Archaeology & Jewish/Islamic Civilisation in 2016, I had my heart set on doing a Master’s Degree in conservation/preservation in the cultural heritage sector.  This is when I became aware of the MA in Digital Humanities that Maynooth University were advertising.  I did not think twice about applying for this exciting and relevant course, as it ticked all my areas of interest.

Photograph of a 3D Model-T Ford Induction Coil by Justin Martin.

This MA is both theoretical and practical in equal measures.  The course has helped me in areas such as blog construction using WordPress, Java programming, XML, HTML, which are all transferable skills one can use in IT jobs at home or abroad.  In addition to these computer skills, I also learned how to capture objects using different methods such as 3D scanning and photogrammetry using a high spec DSLR camera.  Using software programmes, one can learn how to produce a high quality 3D model and upload them onto reputable platforms such as Sketchfab which allow one to publish, share & discover 3D projects online and in Visual Reality.  I also discovered RTI (Reflectance Transformation Imaging) this is a computational photographic method that captures a subject’s surface shape.  This method works well with ancient coinage, and provides intricate details on the coin that would be otherwise invisible to the naked eye.  The other technology that really interested me was the hyper-spectral imaging; this involves the scanning of an object using multiple wavelengths that are outside the parameters of the human eye.  This method is used to detect art and antiquity fraud and is an area that I am passionate about.

The MA in Digital Humanities is a degree that can provide one with the skills and theoretical knowledge to avail of multiple job opportunities across many disciplines which I have outlined.  Digital Humanities is a very exciting subject that traverses the boundaries of       other       deep      rooted      disciplines      such     as      archaeology and computer science.

Photograph of the V.H.N conference in Cork (2016), by Justin Martin.

I recently attended the VHN (Visual Heritage Network) conference, which was held in Cork in November 2016.  I came away from this conference in Cork feeling really excited for the future of Digital Humanities and even more so, for my own future in this new and exciting field.  You can find out more information about some of the new exciting presentations given by experts   at   the   VHN   conference  in  Cork  by  clicking   on my  (blog-post).



V.H.N Conference in Cork by Justin Martin

This year’s Virtual Heritage Network (VHN) conference in Cork did not disappoint me in any shape or form.  This was my first time attending a VHN conference and it was a really enjoyable experience.  The aim of this conference is a sharing of ideas and the exploration of interactive visualisation such as curation and data-management at home and abroad.  The video below, which was presented by Geert Kessels & Pim van Bree (Lab1100) at the VHN conference is an example of an interactive visual data-set courtesy of Nodegoat. Nodegoat is a web-based data management, network analysis and visualisation environment, that allows one to  instantly analyse and visualise datasets.

There were many interesting presentations which had themes such as 3D Modelling in experimental archaeology, interactive visual data-sets, and crowd-sourcing projects.  The presentation that I particularly liked was project Mosul/or Rekrei  which was started by Matthew Vincent & Chance Coughenour.   The    Rekrei        project is   an    ideal      platform    for   crowdsourcing   the  digital   recreation

V.H.N Conference in Cork by Justin Martin

of  artefacts, monuments and museums  which have been damaged by human agency such as terrorism and natural disasters. These are then used to create 3D models/representations of objects/buildings to help preserve our shared cultural heritage throughout conflict and unstable regions.  This project shares similarities with other projects such as the NewPalmyra project which also collects data, analyses it and shares the data in the public domain, with the sole aim of preserving heritage sites.

The next presentation that I really enjoyed was The Historic Graves Project, which was presented by John Tierney who is a  field archaeologist with Eachtra Archaeological Projects.  This particular project is a  community based heritage project which digitally records and publishes historic graveyard surveys and stories.  In a period of 6 years, they have catalogued and recorded eight hundred graves using 360˚ cameras that record the height and  width giving 2D, and with an additional geo-tag location, GPS gives the 3rd dimension.  The two most important tools used in the recording process are masking tape and a marker, which are used to number and record the headstones. According to Mr Tierney, the masking tape can withstand the elements, and  remain on the headstone for up to a year.  There is little doubt that this is a very low cost solution to the major problem of inadequate funding.

V.H.N. Conference by Justin Martin

The most fundamental part of the project is reading and transcribing the gravestones,  this process is done with a  lenser p7 torch , which is pointed at the side to cast a shadow, thus making the reading process easier. This oblique lighting technique is similar to RTI (reflectance transformation  imaging),  it is usually used to show detail by creating shadows on the surface of an  item.

The conference was really informative and left me with a lot of food for thought. Every project was really interesting and left a deep impression on me in terms of the  technological benefits that can be gained from using these technologies.  I look forward with huge anticipation to next year’s VHN Conference.


We live in times when images, and especially digital images, are ubiquitous.  Most of us share photographs daily on social media platforms like Flickr, Facebook, Pinterest, Instagram, etc.  There are other platforms in existence, for example Google’s “Open Gallery” (which is part of the Google Cultural Institute platform)  that also make it possible for anybody to upload images, videos and arrange exhibitions, i.e. to become a curator of an online exhibition.  The pervasiveness of image sharing platforms and the facilitated access to these platforms for lay-people can leave us with the illusion that we are all curators and that the role of professional curators will soon become obsolete.  I tend to disagree with this view and believe that although technology has developed rapidly in recent years, not everybody can be considered a curator per se.

It is also important to point out that the development of technologies, such as computational image analysis, poses the question of whether or not curation can be done without the participation of a human agent.  Computational image analysis is a very powerful tool as it saves time and effort for the image curator.  The internet has become flooded with billions of images and sorting through them, categorising them and organising them has become a colossal task.  With the help of technology, sifting through images has become easier and faster.

This does not mean that computational image analysis can substitute the judgment made by a curator.  I agree with Steve Rosenbaum  who  states  that     “Computers          can’t         distinguish

 Source: www.khilafatworld.com

between data and ideas or between human intellect and aggregated text and links”.  This is the main reason why I am of the view that computational image analysis cannot replace the input of human curators.  Computers do not feel or think as humans (or at least not yet!).  Exhibitions are made with the purpose of reaching                certain                 audiences, with the intention of broadcasting particular ideas  and/or evoke certain memories or feelings.  This is where the role of the curators becomes immensely important. Although computers can help in the curation of images, the organisation of an exhibition itself, in relation to the selection of images cannot be made by a computer.  Curators are the experts who evaluate the images and identify what images would fit with the specific theme.  Selecting the images, their arrangement and presentation, are not actions that can be done solely by machines.  Every exhibition aims to achieve certain emotive responses within the audience, and that is where computational analysis fails.  The curator, through his experience, both personal and social, knows how the human psyche works.  Sifting through the avalanche of images can be done faster and easier with the help of computational tools but choosing the most appropriate images and contextualising them can be achieved solely by a human agent.

When talking about computational image analysis and human curatorship, I feel that there is no need to juxtapose them.  There are many benefits to computational image analysis but I remain of the view that its role is ancillary to the role of the human curator.  On the other hand, modern curators need to embrace new technologies in order to deliver the best possible experience for their audiences.


Rosenbaum, Steve.  “Why Curation is Just as Important as Creation [Opinion]”.  Mashable UK, 17 March 2011, available from http://mashable.com/2011/03/17/curation-importance/#HRx6RU7BiiqF.  Accessed on 13 December 2016.

Palladino, Valentina.  “Google Open Gallery launches, letting almost anyone create online exhibitions”.  The Verge, 10 December 2013,

available from www.theverge.com/2013/12/10/5197124/google-open-gallery-launches-letting-almost-anyone-create-online.  Accessed on 13 December 2016.



Digital archaeology is the study of our archaeological past using the latest digital technologies such as photogrammetry, laser-scanning, augmented  &    virtual   reality      systems,      3D        modelling     and  printing. These new modes of technology prompt archaeologists to re-evaluate the ways in which they analyse, interpret and disseminate their findings in relation to archaeology.  But even though digital technology is evolving at a fast rate, there are still those who reject modernity and are slow to move away from traditional methods of archaeology.

Source: www.finder.com.au
Source: www.finder.com.au

This is due to various reasons such as problems with intellectual property and a lack of standardisation across all the fields and sub-fields of archaeology. Costopoulos states that the “tendency to make approaches and tools into objects of study” and emphasises “the implications in other fields of the use of new digital tools” (Costopoulos, 2).  I do agree with the assertion that there are problems with the merging of traditional and digital archaeology such as standardisation, but I do feel that traditionalists will have to embrace digital or face getting left behind altogether.  I share Huggett’s opinion which outlines the fact that “unless doing digital archaeology includes the conversations surrounding doing archaeology digitally it will only be partial archaeology” (Huggett, 4).

The scope of archaeology is extremely broad and incorporates many other sub-disciplines of archaeology such as space, underwater, environmental, and osteo, to name a few.  However, although they are different fields of archaeology, they are similar in theory and methodology.  The theoretical framework of traditional archaeology or cultural historical archaeology as it is known involves the removal of an artefact from its context and the subsequent analysis of that data.  These artefacts are then analysed and catalogued and placed in the archaeological record.  According to Renfrew and Bahn, “[t]raditional approaches tended to regard the objective of archaeology mainly as reconstruction: piecing together the jigsaw” (Renfrew and Bahn, 17).  In this definition, the term “reconstruction” is used in its traditional meaning, but it is important to point out that this term is extremely problematic in conventional archaeology as well as virtual/digital archaeology.  One of the problems associated with digital archaeology is that visualisations are considered to be “reconstructions” (Clark, 63).  This term is widely used in virtual/digital archaeology and there are numerous examples such as the Digital Reconstruction of the Northwest Palace, Nimrud, Assyria on YouTube that emphasises the terms use.  Clark quotes the archaeologist Walter W. Taylor who criticised the use of the term reconstruction.  Clark agrees with Taylor’s opinion and adds that, especially within the context of digital archaeology, it is fallacious to talk about “reconstruction”.  He suggests that the term which should be used instead of reconstruction to identify both the process and the product is “model” (Clark, 67).  I personally agree with Taylor and Clark that the word “reconstruction” cannot and should not be used both in traditional and virtual/digital archaeology as they imply, as Taylor emphasised, “rebuilding to exact former specifications”.  It is impossible to have the exact measurements of an object or building.  Furthermore, it would be even more erroneous to use this term in virtual/digital archaeology which recreates an artefact or building in an intangible medium.

I think that no matter how one feels about digital archaeology, there is no doubt in my mind that it is here to stay.  The potential and benefits of using digital tools and methods far outweighs any negative criticism traditionalists might have.  I feel that archaeology is interpretative, no matter whether we use traditional and/or digital methods and tools.


Clark, Jeffrey T.  “The Fallacy of Reconstruction”. Cyber-Archaeology, edited by Maurizio Forte, BAR International Series 2177, Archaeopress, 2010, pp 63-73, available from www.academia.edu/1183290/The_Fallacy_of_Reconstruction.   Accessed on 26 November 2016.

Costopoulos, Andre.   ‘Digital Archaeology Is Here (and Has Been for a While)’.   Frontiers in Digital Humanities, 16 March 2016, available from http://journal.frontiersin.org/article/10.3389/fdigh.2016.00004/full Accessed on 26 November 2016.

Huggett, Jeremy. ‘A Manifesto for an Introspective Digital Archaeology’. Open Archaeology 2015, Vol. 1, pp 86–95, available from http://eprints.gla.ac.uk/104047/1/104047.pdf.  Accessed on 26 November 2016.

Huggett, Jeremy. ’Let’s Talk About Digital Archaeology’.  Introspective Digital Archaeology, 10 May 2016, available from https://introspectivedigitalarchaeology.wordpress.com/2016/05/10/lets-talk-about-digital-archaeology/.  Accessed on 26 November 2016.

Renfrew, Colin and Paul Bahn.  Archaeology: Theories, Methods and Practices.  Thames & Hudson, 2012.


Source: www.socialmediabeez.com

In the age of social media obsession, it is becoming increasingly difficult for us to keep control over the images and related personal information being shared on social media and the world wide web in general.  Privacy is becoming an increasingly contentious issue among the majority of social media users.  As technologies are developing to facilitate the upload and sharing of images, the personal information in the public domain which we or other people, inadvertently or not, post is increasing.  I will examine the privacy concerns on two levels – on a more personalised level, in the area of “small data” (data, in particular images, posted by an individual user) and within the context of “Big Data” (the data uploaded by other users).

Source: http://irishtechnews.net

The term “privacy” varies from person to person.  Not everybody has the same notion of “privacy”.  While software engineers view it in binary terms, most people have ambiguous and changing views of “privacy” (Highfiled, 7).  It is interesting to note that a study carried out by Yahoo! Research Berkeley group, which examined Flickr users’ privacy settings and concerns, concluded that only 2% of the surveyed photos had the location information suppressed.  This probably indicates that overall most people are not that concerned with their location’s disclosure.  However, we cannot take this at face value as the default option on Flickr at the time of research was for the location to be included (Ahern et al, 361).  Even if we take into consideration this fact, I find the percentage of photos revealing (inadvertently or not) location somewhat surprising.  The location data attached to uploaded images reveals details of a person’s daily life which in turn can lead to concerns as to that person’s security or the physical security of their families and property.  This concern prevents me personally from uploading photos of my child on social platforms.  I also choose not to upload photos while on holidays as this could give away the fact that my home is vacant.

Furthermore, I believe that when we upload photos on social platforms it is important that we take into account that these photos affect our social image.  For example, some employers perform background checks on Facebook and other social media when hiring new employees.  Uploading a picture which is compromising in any way could mean loss of a job or other social opportunities.  This problem is exacerbated by the fact that even if we control what images we post, there is the bigger problem – we do not have much control over what images other people are uploading of us.  This concern leads us to the issue of privacy in the context of “Big Data”.

Data digital flow
Source: http://bigdatasp.com

“Big Data” is the name given to large data-sets which are often collected and researched by companies and governments with the purpose of market research, targeted advertisement and national security (Smith).  The amount of uploaded data is increasing on a daily basis at an ever-growing speed.  A quick perusal of Instagram’s Stats page shows that more than 95 million photos/videos are uploaded per day on that platform alone.  The existence of myriad social media platforms means that very often images of us can be uploaded by other users without us being even aware, especially if we are not users of that particular platform.  Some social media platforms allow for tagging and inform the tagged person that an image of him has been uploaded but in a lot of cases the photos are not tagged.  The fact that modern devices are capable of embedding geo-data and other metadata increases the threat to a person’s privacy, especially in cases of non-linked tagging of photos when the person is not made aware of the uploading of this image (Smith).

Overall, I feel that in our age of social media obsession, we, the social media users, remain over-exposed.  Despite all attempts to defend our privacy, it is near impossible to prevent other people from uploading images and data about us.  I remain of the view that we need to get accustomed to the idea of our diminished privacy, especially in cases where we voluntarily choose to make our photos available online.  This seems to be the price we have to pay for the benefits of using social media platforms.


Ahern, Shane et al.  “Over-Exposed?  Privacy Patterns and Considerations in Online and Mobile Photosharing”, in Proceedings of the SIGCHI conference on Human factors in computing systems, 2007, available from http://infolab.stanford.edu/~mor/research/chi241-ahern-mediaprivacy.pdf

Highfiled, Tim, and Tama Leaver.  “A methodology for mapping Instagram hashtags”, First Monday, Vol. 20, No. 1, 1 January 2015, pp. 1-11, available from http://forstmonday.org/ojs/index .php/fm/rt/printerFriendly/5563/4195.  Accessed on 26 November 2016.

Smith, Matthew et al. “Big Data Privacy Issues in Public Social Media”, Leibniz Universitat Hannover, available from www.dcsec.uni-hannover.de/uploads/tx-tkpublikationen/bdp.pdf.  Accessed on 26 November 2016.