Bringing Ireland’s History to Life with GenAI 

John Breslin of Insight and Data2Sustain Presents at PorterShed GenAI Hackathon 

Last weekend, the PorterShed and SPECTRA GenAI Hackathon showcased an array of innovative ideas and collaborative efforts. A highlight of the event was John Breslin’s compelling presentation, “Five Years Using GenAI to Bring Ireland’s History to Life in Colour.” Representing Insight and Data2Sustain, John shared details about the fascinating journey of using Generative Adversarial Networks (GANs) to colourise historical black and white images of Ireland. 

The presentation delved into the origins and development of the DeOldify project, a state-of-the-art tool that leverages AI to breathe new life into old photographs. John discussed how this technology combines AI with meticulous manual work to achieve accurate and vivid results. The process not only involves technical expertise but also extensive research into historical details to ensure authenticity and accuracy. 

John Breslin presenting at the PorterShed and SPECTRA GenAI Hackathon.
Credit: Anthony Shaughnessy, PorterShed

The PorterShed GenAI Hackathon gathered AI enthusiasts, experts, and startups to explore the potential of AI without requiring extensive coding knowledge. Participants engaged in team-based challenges, supported by experienced mentors, to develop innovative AI solutions. The event fostered a collaborative atmosphere, encouraging the sharing of ideas and expertise. 

This hackathon was part of the SPECTRA project, funded by the European Union under Horizon Europe. SPECTRA aims to foster sustainable and innovative ecosystems across Europe, with the involvement of Data2Sustain consortium members, including the Western Development Commission and ATU. The project’s vision is to create responsive and resilient ecosystems capable of addressing contemporary challenges through innovation and collaboration. 

John Breslin’s presentation is a testament to the transformative power of AI in preserving and enhancing our cultural heritage. By combining cutting-edge technology with a deep respect for historical accuracy, projects like DeOldify are opening new avenues for experiencing and understanding our past. 

For those interested in exploring the presentation slides and learning more about this groundbreaking work, you can view them here: 


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