I bought this photograph because I love images of girls wearing glasses. Her cloche hat, tapestry/brocade coat and corsage epitomise 1920s cool. The photograph was taken in The Central Studio, 13 North Earl Street, Dublin. Little did I know, that the women who ran the studio were just as fascinating as the image.

Harriette E. Lavery is listed in the Thom’s directory as the studio’s occupant from 1918 until 1946. I located her family on the 1901 census where she was living in Belfast with her father, a photographer, thus demonstrating a link to the trade. However, my explorations became more interesting when I found a link to a site showing Harriette’s memorial card stating that she died in 1923 from anthrax poisoning! It appears that the forty-six year old widow contracted her illness during her imprisonment for Civil War Republican activities. Harriette was jailed alongside her daughter, Maynie (1901-1976), in Kilmainham Gaol and the North Dublin Union. Maynie was an active member of Cumann na mBan and her future husband, Ned Reid was imprisoned in Marlborough Prison during the same period. (For further details see Sinéad McCoole’s No Ordinary Women: Irish Female Activists in the Revolutionary Years 1900-1923, Dublin: The O’Brien Press, 2003)

Maynie continued the business after her mother’s death but no change was made to the Thom’s listing. Over the twenty-seven years’ that the photographic studio was based at this address its neighbours included Keenan’s café, the Russell hairdressing saloon and the Maypole Dairy. At one stage, the Lavery family also ran a café at No.13 which they called ‘Dalriada.’ This was also the name of a hotel owned by Harriette’s maternal family at the seaside village of Howth, County Dublin.


This little girl, Ada Josephine Cowper, was born in Dublin in 1865 and her family lived at 29 Fitzwilliam Place. Thanks to the online availability of church records I have been able to find out something about her life. Her marriage, at the age of twenty-seven, to Ernest Henry Knox resulted in a move to his family home Greenwoodpark, Crossmolina, County Mayo where he was a land agent. The house which was built in 1814 is now a ruin.

Ada had two children, Ada Eveleen and the exotically named Zinna Ethel! Zinna married into the Toler-Aylward family of Shankill Castle, Paulstown, County Kilkenny and it was there that Ada senior died at the age of 71 on the 6th of November 1936!


The grandly named Royal Panopticon of Science & Art was run by James Simonton. It opened to much fanfare in 1862, five years’ before Ada’s photograph was taken. Simonton had been involved in several photographic partnerships prior to this solo endeavour. Before establishing himself at 70 Grafton Street (note the typo on the card above), he was based on Dublin’s other main thoroughfare, Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street).

Simonton spared no expense on the decoration and design of his new premises and an article in The Irish Builder of July 1862 elaborates upon the studio’s mahogany fittings, spacious staircase adorned with sculpture and ‘encaustic tile pavement and richly ornamented soffet.’ In addition to the photographic trade Simonton also displayed paintings, dioramas and scientific inventions. At the time of his marriage in 1859 to Frances Isabella Harricks he listed his occupation as ‘artist’ so it is no surprise that he was to host discussions on artistic matters.

Simonton’s business thrived during the 1860s and early 70s as he benefited from the carte-de-visite craze, however, he announced in 1875 that he was retiring from the ‘fancy goods’ trade and filed for bankruptcy in 1876. He attempted to open a public house in the 1880s but his application for a licence was not successful. Instead, he reverted to photography and entered into partnership with a man called Edwards with whom he ran a business at 28 Grafton Street until 1883.


These photographs form part of a series taken by an amateur photographer ca. 1975. They had been put together into a scrapbook with the title ‘The River Liffey – From Leixlip to Bull Wall’ and follow the path of the river from County Kildare to the city. As they were taken from the river they give a different perspective on some well-known views. What I like about them is that they show Dublin during a time of transition and these images, in particular, depict two major developments which were to change the landscape of the city: the Civic Offices at Wood Quay and the Central Bank Headquarters at Dame Street.

The image above shows the site which was cleared for the construction of the Sam Stephenson designed Civic Offices at Wood Quay. The site was purchased by Dublin Corporation, however, excavations revealed that it was a major Viking settlement. See here for a photograph of the novel O’Meara’s ‘Irish House’ pub and bustling street-scape which were razed to make way for this development. Further archaeological excavations were conducted at intervals between 1974 and 1981. Controversially, and despite much protest, the decision was made to go ahead with construction. As ever the Dublin blog, Come Here to Me has several excellent posts on both Wood Quay and Central Bank.


Further down the Liffey, we can see the partially constructed Central Bank Headquarters on Dame Street. This building, also by Sam Stephenson, took several years to complete. My guess is that these photographs were taken sometime between 1974 and 1976 during the hiatus in construction which followed on from complaints that the building exceeded its planned height. You can see from the photograph that the central core has been built, however, the floors have not yet been put in place.

Whilst I would question the appropriateness of the sites chosen for both buildings, I quite like the Brutalist style of architecture favoured by Stephenson. Indeed, some recent photographs by Artur Sikora demonstrate how beautiful the Central Bank is. The whole period is very interesting in that much of the cityscape changed during this time and not always for the best. Frank McDonald’s The Destruction of Dublin outlines much of this change and the poor planning decisions made by both national and local politicians. The Central Bank is due to relocate to Anglo Irish Bank’s unfinished headquarters at North Wall Quay by 2015, leaving this iconic building vacant just thirty-five years’ after its construction!


This beautiful carte-de-visite was produced by Callaghan, 45 South Mall, Cork ca. 1870. The photographer first appears in the 1867 General Directory of Cork published by Henry & Coghlan. He is listed again in Slater’s Directory for 1870, in Fulton’s City Directory for 1871 and Guy’s Directory for 1875. Indeed, the directories are confusing in that some years he is listed as Timothy or T.J. O’Callaghan and in others as Callaghan without the ‘O’.

I was delighted to come across a reference to the photographer in the Journal of the Cork Historical and Archaeological Society from 1936. The title of the article Timothy O’Callaghan, a Cork lithographer, who printed the prayer book in Irish written by Pól Ó Longán promised much, however, when I called it up in the National Library of Ireland it was only a small note asking the readers if they knew anything about O’Callaghan!


I love hand-coloured photographs and wonder if this one was painted in the studio or at home by an amateur? During this period, hand-tinting photographs was a popular hobby and tips were given in women’s magazines and journals. In 1871 the Queen’s Institute for the Training and Employment of Educated Women in Molesworth Street, Dublin offered instruction in the hand-tinting of photographs. This course was taken up by young ‘gentlewomen’ hoping to secure a job with one of the many photographers in the city. I like the fact that the painter has highlighted, in blue, only the small detail of the ribbon tying the girl’s hair.

The young girl is wearing a loose-fitting paletot jacket piped with braid. The dropped shoulder sleeves are loose and the collar is in a Mandarian style. The three-buttoned jacket is worn with a wide skirt made from a rough woollen material. The painted backdrop depicts a terrace looking out on a typical pastoral scene. The studio accessories include a lustre wear vase and a small book which is held by the girl as a prop.



I picked this snapshot up on a trip to New York a couple of year’s ago. The marking of New Year’s Eve always has a poignancy to it and this 61 year old snapshot exudes a certain pathos. I wonder how the year panned out for Florence, Walt, George, Lil, Cass, Jim, Betty and Cookie?

I love the fact that the two women have similar dresses and hairstyles and are being held by their partners in identical poses. The men are all in white shirts with high-waisted trousers. One man looks as if he is singing along to the music whilst another stares wistfully away from the camera.

2933 Disston Street is in Northwest Philadelphia in an area called Mayfair which had very strong Irish-American connections. A cursory perusal of the listings for the street reveals many Irish and Italian surnames.

I am happy to report that today has had one of the highest number of views since Jacolette started and I’d like to thank all those who have looked at and commented upon my posts in 2012. I look forward to sharing many more photographs in 2013! Happy New Year!


This wedding photograph is a rich resource for anyone interested in the history of Irish costume or in wedding styles. It was taken ca.1910 by John McCrae who ran a studio in Phibsborough, opposite the Mater Hospital and another at 113 Grafton Street, Dublin.


The ostentatious hats come in a variety of styles and materials including velvet, straw, lace, ribbons, ostrich feathers and even fur! Hats were definitely a means of conspicuous consumption for wealthy Edwardian women. Bonnets and caps were often favoured by the older ladies. Even the little girl at the back of the photograph wears a coif cap decorated with lace, a large ruffled collar and a full skirt. She is also wearing leather gloves!


The bride and her bridesmaid wear fashionable ankle-length skirts and matching cream bodices with a slim pinstripe. The bodices are embellished with cutwork at the neck and three-quarter length sleeves. Both wear lace blouses with high elongated necklines and sleeves of Guipure lace.


All the ladies wear gloves and jewellery with most displaying brooches fastened at the neckline of the their lace blouses. Two of the guests wear the highly popular tailor-made suits which included long narrow skirts and matching three-quarter length jackets. The young girl is the only female at the wedding without a hat and the little boys are wearing typical knee length white jersey suits with black shoes.

In contrast to the elaborate nature of the women’s outfits, there is little variation to the men’s attire. All wear single breasted sack or lounge suits with waistcoats. These are matched with stiff white rounded collars which were probably detachable – see here for a detailed outline of their use in the 1900s.

The photographer has succeeded in taking a good group photograph in which all of the party are clearly visible and calm looking. See here for another example of his work which I have blogged about previously. Unfortunately, I do not know whereabouts in Dublin the photograph was taken nor the name of the family!


My guess is that this little girl is dressed as Schmutzli, the Swiss companion to St. Nicholas who carries a broom of sticks with which to hit misbehaving children! It was taken around 1905 and she is one of the three Ruthven-Smith sisters whose maternal grandfather owned Dromquinna House, Kenmare, County Kerry. Doreen (1895-1988); Gwendaline Laura (1898-1989) and Theophila (1902-1982) divided their time between Switzerland, Ireland and their father, Frederic Ruthven-Smith’s home Bramcote Hall, Nottingham. He was a keen photographer and it is likely that he took the images in the album I purchased online.

Sir John Colomb their grandfather owned 4,500 acres and was High Sheriff of Kerry and a member of the Congested Districts Board. His home was designed by the prolific architect James Franklin Fuller and is now a luxury hotel.

The album from which this photograph originates includes some amazing photographs of the estate as well as beautiful portraits of the three sisters. I hope to do more research into it and post about it in 2013! 


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