This cabinet card shows a charming group photograph of the five Walshe children from Battlemount, Narragmore, Ballytore, County Kildare. The Lafayette studio’s rustic setting includes wooden steps and tufts of artificial grass and is completed by props such as a fishing net, basket, book and what has to be a stuffed dog!
The children are beautifully dressed as befits the family of a comfortable farmer from this prosperous county. The two girls to the front of the photograph wear velvet ruched dresses with beautiful smocking and buttons. The also wear fashionable lace-up boots. Both of the boys are dressed in matching suits with wide stripes and white collars. The elder girl wears a nautical dress and short hair which is perhaps an indication of a recent illness.
The village of Ballytore or Ballitore was the only planned Quaker village in Ireland and home to the ancestors of the explorer Ernest Shackleton. The census returns for 1901 and 1911 state that there were five children in the Walshe family and that their mother, Bridget, who was married in 1873 was widowed by 1901. It is likely that this photograph was taken in the mid-1880s when the youngest child, Michael (b.1881) was about five year’s old.
The above photograph of the family home, Battlemount House was taken many years later and shows the now grown children with their mother. As in the earlier photograph, two of the daughters appear to be wearing identical outfits. Perhaps they were twins? I discovered that one of the daughters, Bridget, was to emigrate to South Africa, and this image might mark one of the last times that the family were to be together.
A newspaper report from August1922 shows that Michael was seeking compensation of £235, from the government, for the loss of his Ford car during the Civil War – an indicator that the family continued to be quite well-off!