Archive for the ‘Colour Photography in Ireland’ Category


This colour photograph was taken on the 13th of August 1968 in the County Kerry town of Killorglin (Cill Orglan). This date coincides with the annual Puck Fair, one the oldest fairs in Ireland and the scene of much revelry with public houses remaining open until 3 am. Centred around a cattle fair, the festival also includes traditional music and the capture of a wild goat which is then displayed in the centre of the town!

The two men, sleeping-off the effects of the night before, are oblivious to the rest of the town. In the background, a group of men sit on the street as a Morris Minor car passes by. I love the small details such as the empty Carroll’s No.1 cigarette pack and the half-drunk bottle of milk.

The colour process picks out the reddish brown of the window frame. Similar colours are replicated on the back of the ice-cream van.

I don’t know who the photographer was and it is part of a series of images which I have featured in other posts. A quick look on the Killorgan Archive Society’s excellent website leads me to believe that the photograph was taken at the corner of Michael J. Culloty’s Bar, Main Street.


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My guess is that these colour photographs of the West of Ireland were most likely taken by a professional photographer as the verso refers to them as test shots. The warm brown tones and violet blues are more subtle than the hyper coloured images taken by John Hinde. Indeed, this first image is reminiscent of Hinde’s famous photograph of the red haired boy and his sister which featured on a 1960s postcard. Both photographs were taken in Connemara and show a donkey and a creel of turf. See here for Seán Hillen’s collage based on the iconic postcard.


I love the angle from which this photograph was taken. It is captioned as follows: ‘Cargo being unloaded into currachs from C.I.E. ship Noamh Éanna, Off Inisheer, Aran Islands, 8th August 1968.’ The figure in the top right hand corner and the third boat, which is only partially visible, add interest to its composition.


The third street scene is full of the browns and orange hues which are typical of late ’60s colour photography. It features two shops on Ellison Street, Castlebar, County Mayo. These are Peter Dever’s grocery which is proclaimed on the shop front as ‘The House for Bacon’ and Beckett’s tobacconist. I have previously posted kodachrome slides taken during the same period, however, the colours were more saturated with stronger reds than in these prints. I’ve been reading The Genius of Colour Photography by Pamela Roberts which contains some great examples of the art of colour photography although I have yet to identify what type of film was used in these Irish photographs.

On another matter, I am giving two talks during heritage week later this month: one on photographs of the families of participants in the 1916 Rising at the Pearse Museum, Rathfarnham (Tuesday 20th) and another on dating family photographs at the National Library of Ireland (Friday 23rd).

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