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Stanley-CDV-Dublin-500

Stuffed animals were popular props in photographic studios. In an earlier post I refer to a cabinet card by Lafayette which features a stuffed dog! I like the way the photographer has included a hutch for the rabbits to ‘live’ in and also how they have occupied the child in ‘feeding’ the pet. Note how you can see where the backdrop meets the floor covering.

A hand-written note records that the photograph is of ‘Aileen at the age of 4 years and 10 months,’ no surname is provided. The census shows that there were 74 Aileens under ten years’ of age living in Dublin in 1901 and 95 in 1911. Perhaps, she was one of these?

The photograph is in the cabinet card format which was 108 by 165 mm (4¼ by 6½ inches). The back of the card states that the Stanley Studio also specialised in landscapes and that they were based at 22 Westmoreland Street, facing O’Connell Bridge. This address is known as the Lafayette building, after the photographic studio of that name, and was built in 1890 for an insurance company. The Dublin historians who write at Come Here to Me have a post on this building and the Dolphin Hotel which was also designed by J.J O’Callaghan.

The girl’s outfit includes a long-sleeved white cotton smock or dress with matching pantaloons and beautiful white kid leather side-buttoned boots. The dress appears to have several layers and is full of pin-tucks, flounces and scalloped edges. She is wearing a necklace over the broad ruffled collar. Her dress reminds me of the one worn by the painter John Lavery’s stepdaughter in The Artists’ Studio. You can see the painting here. It was completed between 1909 and 1913 a timescale which fits in exactly with that of the Stanley Studio.

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These beautifully dressed children are the Burrells: John Percy, Sermonda and Randulphus Clement who lived at Merrion Square, Dublin. Their cartes-de-visite portraits were taken in 1882 by the firm of Louis Werner, 15 Leinster Street, Dublin whose work is featured elsewhere on this blog. The family’s home was on nearby Merrion Square only a few minutes from Werner’s studio.

Randulphus wears a dark velvet dress tunic with shoulder wide lace collars and matching cuffs. John Percy is sporting a Norfolk style suit of knee length breeches with a long single-breasted jacket buttoned and a waist-belt. An advertisement for the Dublin tailors Hyam, 29 and 30 Dame Street from December 1882, reveals the variety of boys’ suits which were available in the city. They sold the following suit styles: Tunic, Marquis, Norkfolk, Leopold, Napier, Oxford, Cambridge, Refer and Diagonals in materials which included serges, tweeds, worsteds, twills, naps and Cheviots.

Like her brothers Sermonda wears leather buttoned boots. Her frilled tiered skirt includes a layer of tartan patterned material and it is worn over scalloped knickerbockers. Her high-necked belted blouse includes a single row of buttons and she wears a ribbon bow at the back of her head. The photographer’s props include a basket and tennis racket and the novel fake swing upon which John Percy sits.

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Their mother Mary (née Parks) from Golagh House, County Monaghan was one of the earliest biographers of the composer Richard Wagner. She travelled across Europe amassing a substantial collection of manuscripts which were given to the Curtis Institute of Music in Philadelphia (the archive was subsequently sold and dispersed). Their father, Willoughby Merrik Campbell Burrell, 5th Baron Gwydyr, was a Fellow of the Royal Geographical Society. You can see a striking photographic portrait of him, taken by the renowned London studio of Camille Silvy, here.

The children’s maternal grandfather, Sir John Banks, was president of the College of Physicians who also kept a house at 45 Merrion Square. Unfortunately, his medical connections did not prevent the death of young Randulphus who died aged 6 at 11 Merrion Square in 1882, the year in which these photographs were taken.

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Sermonda is pictured above in two gorgeous portraits taken in June 1877 by the studio of M. Allen & Co., 12 Westland Row, Dublin. You can see another example of the photographer’s work here. Her scalloped white cotton or linen dress is adorned with an outsize tartan bow and sash. The ensemble is typical of the restrictive children’s clothing which often mimicked the styles worn by their parents. Indeed in the second image, the little girl has abandoned the sash and bow and is sitting in a more relaxed pose with one of her button boots upon her lap.

Sermonda attended the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art from an early age. She enrolled at the age of eleven in 1885 and you can see a link to her attendance record (up to1890) here and an example of her work here. Her brother John Percy was to die at the age of 24 having served in the diplomatic corps in Russia. Sermonda married Sir John Henniker-Heaton, the son of a journalist and postal reformer, who was credited with the introduction of the universal penny post. Their daughter compiled her father’s letters into book format and they provide some insights into Sermonda’s personality. She mentions that her parents were frequent visitors to Ireland. Unfortunately, her early home Golagh House, which was built in 1703 was burned down during the Civil War and the rubble used to build the local Catholic Church. Sermonda was to outlive her brother John Percy by 56 years, dying in 1958 at the age of 84. She was buried at Tunbridge Wells, Kent and her grave is pictured here.

One of her adult children, was to disappear in the early 1970s under strange circumstances. John Victor Peregrine Henniker-Heaton went missing from his home in London in 1971, several sightings were reported and some presumed that his disappearance was related to his post-Second World War intelligence activities. In a bizarre twist, his son discovered his father’s skeletal remains in a locked room in their home in 1974. You can read about the unusual case here.

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This photograph shows the Governor’s House at Arbour Hill Prison, Dublin. It is described by Christine Casey as ‘a three bay-block with a central axial corridor, transverse stair and simple plaster ornament,’ and was built between 1845-1848.

It was designed by Richard Cleverton Cuming, Assistant Surveyor, Royal Engineers, Ordnance Civil Branch, Dublin Castle. A watercolour of the house by Herbert Crompton Herries ca. 1870, showing the gardens and the Wellington Monument in the distance, was recently auctioned in Dublin.

This photograph shows the governor, his family and their uniformed staff standing outside the ivy-covered building. I reckon that the photograph was taken between 1890 and 1910. One of the governors during this period was George Alfred Penrhys Evans who is listed in the 1901 census. The household included the governor, his wife Cecelia Cameka Evans, their one-year-old daughter Audrey Fortesine and four female servants.

The firm of Guthrie took this photograph and their studio was located at nearby Parkgate Street. The Guthrie brothers were born in China and South Africa, however, their mother hailed from County Fermanagh. They describe themselves on the 1911 census as ‘Photographic Artists’ and I have written about their work in a previous post which you can read here.

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The above photograph was sold along with the image of Governor’s House. Though I can’t be sure that it is the interior of the Arbour Hill house, its atmospheric clutter, decorated with a large number of prints and photographic portraits, is similar to a bedroom of the period.

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This series of photographs shows the annual parade of the Royal Black Preceptory (R.B.P) in Cootehill, County Cavan in 1920. Also known as the Royal Black Institute, it is a Protestant fraternal society (non-Protestants cannot become members unless they agree to adhere to the principles of Orangeism and convert). To join the R.B.P. one must already be a member of the Orange Order. 1931 was the last time that large parades took place in counties Monaghan and Cavan.

The photographs show the group gathering on the outskirts of the town complete with banners and flags. Some wear sashes adorned with what appear to be military medals. The band is brass rather than the more usual flute or pipe type. You can see some interesting examples of R.B.P. tokens and regalia here and here.

This photograph was taken whilst the Irish War of Independence was underway although casualties in the county of Cavan were not high. The state of Northern Ireland which was to be created in 1921 included only six of the nine counties of the province of Ulster. Cavan, Monaghan and Donegal were excluded and formed part of the Irish Free State. The only major Orange Order march in the Republic of Ireland takes place every July in the village of Rossnowlagh, near Ballyshannon, in the south of County Donegal.

The images come from a fascinating album which includes joyful snapshots of modern young women bathing on Killiney beach. It also shows a branch of the Whitfield family who emigrated from Cavan to Canada in the late 1920s and a pair of Cavan-born sisters who worked in a Kansas, Missouri hospital during the smallpox epidemic in 1920. The album represents the intersection of the political and the private and shows a mix of both urban and rural life.

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I was delighted to write a piece for the Gallery of Photography’s current project and exhibition The Photo Album of Ireland. The exhibition was opened last Friday by Professor Diarmaid Ferriter and it explores the history of photography in Ireland through the family album. It runs at the Dublin gallery until the 31st August and you can also view the publicly sourced photographs at the project website here.

The following text and image appear in the exhibition and relate to a photograph from my own family’s collection. It tells the story of female emigration from Ireland to the United States and also explores the role photography plays in the construction of family narratives.

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I collect photographs and write about them on my blog. Most of the people in these photographs are anonymous and will remain so. Sourced from online auctions, charity shops and even skips, the images have become separated from the families who once valued them. I look for interesting faces, extreme fashions and unusual formats or studios. I then research and write short pieces which I hope illuminate a moment in Irish social, photographic or fashion history.

Naturally, I know and understand my own family photographs in a different way to those that I write about on my blog or within an academic context. Their value comes from the telling and re-telling of stories which transform sometimes unremarkable images into something special. Would I buy these photographs if offered for auction on eBay? Probably not! But they do mean a great deal to me.

My love of photographs started with my grandmother, Roseanne, whose mother is shown in the above image. No visit was complete without a thorough examination of the box of photographs which she ceremoniously brought down from the ‘upper room’. An act which intensely annoyed my grandfather who declared that ‘no-one wants to look at that old rubbish.’ She ignored him and commenced her guided tour. She held each photograph, dictated the viewing order and seldom deviated from her script.

Mingled amongst the images of her daughters at dinner dances and snapshots of haymaking were the American photos sent across the Atlantic by a previous generation of emigrants. Different in format, they included tintypes and photobooth pictures, neither of which were prevalent in Ireland. The American photos felt and looked different to Irish photographs.

One such example, is this photograph of my great-grandmother Susan Smith and her cousin, taken not in her native Cavan, but in the Massachusetts city of Brockton. It is the only evidence of the ten years that she spent in America between 1895 and 1905. We hear little of Brockton now but during the time that my great-grandmother lived there it claimed to offer the highest industrial wage in the world at $3.75 per day. At one stage ‘shoe city’ had over 100 factories and it was booming.

Put into an historical context my great-grandmother’s tale was typical of Irish emigration during the period. More single women than men left. Some stayed forever. Some like Susan Smith emigrated for substantial periods of time, in her case ten years, during which she earned enough to provide herself with a dowry. This and her husband-to-be’s earnings as a copper miner in Arizona allowed them to buy a house and farm upon their return. My great-grandmother’s tale, mirrors that related by Diane Dunnigan in A South Roscommon Emigrant: Emigration and Return, 1890–1920 (2), in which she tells how these independent women worked, saved and sometimes returned to Ireland bringing with them different life experiences.

When my great-grandmother and her American cousin entered the studio of D.T. Burrell at 68 Main Street, Brockton, they commissioned an image which adhered to the well-established conventions of studio portraiture. They wear their ‘Sunday best’ of fashionable lace high-necked blouses and choker necklaces. They have piled their hair into ‘Gibson Girl’ pompadours so prevalent during the period. Presented in cameo upon embossed paper, the two young women stare confidently at the camera. Her cousins, Mary, Kate and Rosalie were the American-born children of Cavan parents who had emigrated in the 1880s. Like them they worked in shoe factories, however, they had advanced from manual positions to jobs as clerks and stenographers.

The anthropologist Daniel Miller’s survey of the possessions owned by the residents of a single South London street focused not upon their aesthetic qualities but instead he revealed that objects, such as photographs, often matter to people because of the relationships they signify. The meaning attached to the above photograph cannot be deduced by an analysis of its image content alone instead it is integral to a story known only within a family context. My grandmother’s relationship to her family photographs and in particular to this image reminds me of what Miller referred to as the ‘the sadness of lives and the comfort of things.’(2)

When my grandmother talked about this photograph she was not considering emigration trends nor the role of the returned Yank. Instead she used it as a vehicle to discuss a very personal event: the death of her father less than ten years after his return to Ireland. Although not included in the photo, he was the focus when this portrait was examined. The story of her parents’ hopeful return to Ireland starts with this image. His premature death from silicosis, the result of his work in copper mines, was naturally a major blow to his only child and this photograph allowed her to raise the subject sixty or more years after the event.

(1) Dunnigan, Diane, A South Roscommon Emigrant: Emigration and Return, 1890-1920, Dublin: Four Courts Press, 2007.

(2) Miller, Daniel, The Comfort of Things, Cambridge: Polity, 2008.

Orla Fitzpatrick
June 2014

Chancellor-Dog500

For the last couple of years, I have written posts for Bloomsday highlighting Joyce’s use of photography within Ulysses. I have previously written about Milly Bloom’s job at a photographic studio in Mullingar (which you can read here) and also about Joyce’s references to photography and celebrity culture (see here).

I chose the above photograph in response to Gerty MacDowell’s daydreams of domestic bliss which appear in Nausicaa, the thirteenth episode of the novel. In it, she describes the manner in which she would decorate her home and mentions “the photograph of grandpapa Giltrap’s lovely dog Garryowen that almost talked it was so human.” This reminded me of this image by Chancellor’s of Dublin which originates from the 1860s. It reveals that commissioning a photographic portrait of one’s pet was a well-established practice in Dublin.

Phoenix-Park-Racing

The Phoenix Park’s association with motorsport started as early as 1903. The Gordon Bennett Cup Race which took place in Ireland in that year is cited as the background for James Joyce’s short story After the Race. Joyce used motor racing to lampoon the aspirations of Dublin’s social climbing nouveau riche. It was one of fifteen stories that appeared in Dubliners and this month marks the 100th anniversary of its publication. A reimagining and rewriting of these stories, Dubliners 100, will be launched today.

This lady was photographed in the Phoenix Park sometime in the late 1940s or early 1950s. Due to petrol rationing racing was suspended during the Second World War and did not re-commence until the late 1940s. On the subject of rationing, I was delighted to have my article ‘Coupons, Clothing and Class: The Rationing of Dress in Ireland, 1942-1948’ published in the latest issue of Costume.

The fashions worn by this women indicate that the photo was taken towards the end of the 1940s or in the early 1950s. Her loose fitting, midi length shift dress and matching jacket were typical of the post-war period. Her stylish outfit reflects the comparative wealth of those involved in motor sport and mirrors the glamour and allure alluded to by Joyce in After the Race.

Phoenix-Park

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