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The 1820s warehouse on the north bank of the Liffey, converted by Dublin Docklands Authority into a shopping centre just before the economic crash, was only a quarter occupied when Isdell invested.
For the building to be a commercial success, the businessman knew, he needed a big attraction.
But despite receiving strong bids from eight consortiums around the country, including one from Isdell for the vaults under the CHQ, in February 2015 the Government axed its plans to support the project, saying that no capital funding was available.
Isdell was determined to proceed regardless, and since then he has pumped €12 million of his own money into the multimedia experience.
In 2014 the Government appointed its first minister for the diaspora (Jimmy Deenihan), and last year it published its first official diaspora policy.
There’s the tale of investigative journalist Nellie Bly, born in Pennsylvania to Irish parents, who in 1885 was offered a job at the after writing a strong response to an article that called a working woman a monstrosity.
Bly went undercover as a sweatshop labourer to expose the heart conditions caused by harsh working conditions, and as a psychiatric patient to get the inside story about the Blackwell Island institution in New York.
Some of them have been digitised for exhibit in Epic, “but from this era, when people write emails instead of letters, we have nothing saved, nothing stored publicly.
We have to do this to keep a record for the future.” The museum opens at a time of surging interest in all things diaspora.