I am going on my holidays tomorrow to County Sligo and hope to have as much fun as the group pictured on this page of a 1920s snapshot album. The family were from middle-class Clontarf and perfectly matched the sector at whom the snapshot camera was marketed. They certainly look like they are enjoying themselves!
Luckily, I have the album in its entirety which allows me to infer much about the family, their friends, interests and concerns. I hate to see album pages being sold separately and removed from their original context. The careful placing together of certain images and the interplay of pages tells us much about the author’s intent. This is explored brilliantly by Barbara Levine in her work Snapshot Chronicles: inventing the American Photo Album.
The bathing attire was right on trend for the 1920s. The women appear to be wearing one-piece costumes called tank suits, a style which was popularized by the Australian swimmer, Annette Kellerman. Many of these suits have bold geometric patterns. Bathing caps protected the women’s bobbed hair and mirror the cloche hats of the era.
The pre-Lycra fabric looks like it would definitely sag when wet!
The men’s costumes are also one-piece and the suit at the rear of the picture includes a button closure at the shoulder – a popular design feature during the 1920s.
From elsewhere in the album, I know that the young girl pictured above was called Doreen and that she was about 6 years of age in 1926, dating this snapshot to the late 1920s. I also know that the extended family holidayed in Rossnowlagh and Bundoran, County Donegal, where these photographs might possibly have been taken?
As ever, the snapshots inadvertently capture little details like the girl’s white shoes which are held in the hands of a female relative and the barely visible pioneer pin on the young man’s lapel to the left of this picture. I particularly like the fully suited gentleman who appears to have made no change to his outfit for the seaside trip.