The image on this Gaelic League postcard was taken by the Irish-American photographer and artist, Anna Frances Levins (d. 1941). It was published by Malcolmson and Hayes, a New York based printing and engraving firm which was founded by Cork-born, Cornelius J. Hayes.
Levins was an interesting character who was also a portrait painter and the official photographer to the Irish-American Historical Society. She married the landowner and politican, Thomas Henry Grattan Esmonde (1862-1935) and when in Dublin their home was at 84 St. Stephen’s Green.
Yet again the colouring of the photograph is what really appeals to me. The approximation of 15th century dress is based more upon a romantic notion of the period than on actual historical evidence. It has many similarities with the costumes created by the Dun Emer Guild in Dublin.
The postcard may have originated from one of the World’s Fairs, however, I have a feeling that it had something to do with the ‘Irish Historic Pageant’ which took place in New York in 1913. It was organised by the Gaelic League‘s Irish and New York branches. The pageant, which was a fundraiser, for the League, celebrated Ireland’s ancient past.
It was held at the Sixty-Ninth Armory, New York and featured 500 professional and amateur actors in ‘ancient’ Irish costume. It cost $10,000 to put on and was designed by John P. Campbell. For more information on the event see Deborah Sugg Ryan’s article in Ireland’s heritages: critical perspectives on memory and identity edited by Mark McCarthy, Ashgate (2005).