Archive for the ‘Uncategorized’ Category

This unusual cabinet card portrait was taken by Philip Condon (1872-1956) of Cahir, County Tipperary. I have quite a few photographs of pet dogs in photo studios but seldom see cats in this context! The woman’s elaborate outfit typifies the extreme puff sleeve of the late 1890s.

Through a perusal of newspaper archives and the assistance of his grand-daughter, Annette Condon, I have been able to find out quite a bit about Philip Condon. He operated out of his father’s public house and contributed to amateur photographic journals in England. He won a diamond necklace for a portrait of his nephew which was published in Tatler magazine in 1904.

A news clipping provides a lively insight into the comings and goings at Condon’s public house and the role photography played in the town’s life. Published in The Nationalist on the1st of October 1898, it was entitled Sunday Closing Prosecution in Cahir: A Novel Defence – Drinks or Photos. The photographer’s father Patrick Condon was charged with a breach of the licencing laws as several men were found drinking alcohol on his premises in contravention of Sunday opening hours. In their defence they stated that they were waiting to have their photographs taken:

“Philip Condon, son of the defendant, was examined by Mr. Sargint, and said he was in the habit of taking photos; on the day in question he met the Buckleys and the others in the street, and they asked him to take their photos; he told them to go into his house, and he would be back in half an hour, as he had to go and take another’s photo; on his return he took the men’s photos. The defendant was examined, and said that while the men were waiting in his house for his son’s return he asked them to have a drink which he supplied at his own expense…

Mr Shoveller: ‘Do many people go to your son to get photographed? Yes, nearly every day.’ ”

Unfortunately for the Condons and the Buckleys, they were convicted and fined. This does, however, provide an indication of how novel photography was in the town at the time and Philip Condon’s relationship with his clientele!

Philip Condon appears to have been a man of remarkable energy running a pub/grocery and funeral undertakers as well as a photography studio, framing and hackney business. This hybrid of undertaking, publican and grocer was quite common outside of the larger cities and and I have found several examples, such as that of John Gannon of Cavan town who was selling Lancaster cameras and Ilford photographic plates and papers alongside coffins and wallpaper in 1895! Condon’s many interests included amateur dramatics and sport (especially cycling). He painted backdrops and sets for his photo studio and local plays. He provided photographs for a publication on The Suir from its Sources to the Sea by L. M. McCraith (1912).

Condon was married twice: firstly to Annie Carew who died in childbirth in 1917 and then to Margaret Prendergast. The funeral undertaking business remains in the family. I hope to research and write more about his photographic business and hope to trace some of his customers. His business provides an excellent example of the role of a studio in small town Ireland in the late 19th and early 20th century and also reveals how amateur and commercial photography intersected.

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This might look like a prop from a horror film but it is actually a carte-de-visite by an unnamed Dublin studio promoting the business of John Coates, Monumental Works, 173 Great Brunswick street (now Pearse Street). Coates set up in business in 1862 and moved further along the street in 1888 to 26 Brunswick Street. This later address was next door to the firm owned by the father of the 1916 leader, Patrick Pearse. An outline of the street’s development and the Pearse business is available here. I’ve spoken to Brian Crowley, Collections curator, Pearse Museum and Kilmainham Gaol, and author of Patrick Pearse, A Life in Pictures who confirmed that several similar businesses were located on Brunswick Street. The proximity to Westland Row and Amiens Street railway stations facilitated the movement of the heavy raw materials and gravestones around the country.

I like any sort of occupational studio photography (see another example from my collection here) and this one is particularly apt for Halloween night. The photographer has failed to notice that the backdrop behind the headstone has slipped which somewhat distracts the viewer from the monument. Did Austin die in 1872? We’ll never know.

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Early cartes-de-visite often have a sparse and simple look which makes them appear quite modern in contrast to the more elaborate backdrops and props from later studio portraits. The posing in this early 1860s portrait by Gottlieb Schroder of 28 Grafton Street, Dublin, is carefully choreographed. One sister looks down pensively at a photo album whilst the other stares directly at the camera. Their raised crinolines are of the same design with three lines of piping along the ruffled bottom of the gored skirts. Ribbon ruffles outline their long low-set coat style sleeves (built-in curves close tightly at the wrist). The fan front bodices meet collars which are also ruffled. One of the girls wears buttoned ankle boots. The sisters are identified on the back of the photo as Jane and Peachy Edwards. So far, I haven’t been able to find out anything further about them as the surname is not unusual.

Gottlieb Shroeder opened his Dublin studio in 1862 and had a presence in the city’s photographic trade until the early 1880s. His adverts appeared regularly in the national press announcing his adoption of new technologies and techniques. In one of his earliest notices he announces, in a somewhat dramatic style, that he has installed a lift (a rarity during the period) and describes it as follows:

“To remedy a long existing evil and to avoid the universal complaints of the trouble and fatigue (especially of aged and invalided persons), of ascending to the top of the building, Mr. J.S. has, at considerable expense, and under the Supervision of an experienced Engineer, built an ‘Ascending Room,’ in which visitors may reach the Galleries safely, and comfortably seated in an armchair.”  Freeman’s Journal, 11th April 1864.

Photographic studios were located on upper floors in order to avail of the natural light and many were glass ceilinged additions on the rooftop of buildings. The phrase ‘Ascending Room’ didn’t quite catch on!

Schroeder married Emma Raynor in 1865 and they had five children. She died at the early age of 38 in June 1875 and he swiftly remarried later that year. He also outlived this second wife Marion O’Neill who died in 1881 aged 32. Both wives died of tuberculosis an indicator of its prevalence in the city.

Schroeder and his family lived in a variety of locations in the city mainly on the Southside including houses at Camden Street, Harold’s Cross and Rathmines. At one stage his business was such that it could sustain two premises on Grafton Street: one at 28 and another at number 58. A newspaper notice from the 4th April 1882 states that the Sauvy studio had purchased Schroeder’s negatives. Gottlieb ended his Dublin years with a studio on O’Connell Street before moving to Doncaster sometime in the 1880s where he lived at 15 Frances Street. His studio was at 15 Hall Gate Street. He died in that town in 1897 at the age of 64.

It appears that his son Carl Julius (b.1868) continued in the photographic business in Doncaster for a number of years. Another son, Frederick (b.1870) was in the Royal navy joining up at the age of twelve. I have not been able to ascertain the final fate of his Dublin-born daughters Emma Caroline (b.1863), Ida (b.1865) and Minnie (b.1875) who may or may not have moved to Doncaster with their father. Minie appears in the 1901 London census visiting friends in Stepney.

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I’m delighted to have a selection of my collection of 19th century carte-de-visites from Drogheda on display in the town’s public library for Culture Night, the 18th of September. The exhibition, which continues for two weeks, is part of wider themed programme entitled Connection curated by Brian Hegarty.

Carte-de-visite by Weston Bros, Drogheda, 1880s

The photographs show inhabitants of the town and were mainly taken in the 1860s and 1870s by the following studios: Charles Farley; Weston Brothers; George W. Neill and Payne & Cuddy. All occupied prime locations on the town’s main streets. The existence of these photos dispels the idea that photography was only available to the very rich in Ireland. The carte-de-visite process produced small inexpensive portraits (54mm x 89mm) and its introduction generated a rise in the number of photographic studios in cities and towns across the world (including Ireland). The fact that Drogheda sustained several photographic studios, from the mid-nineteenth century on, means that there was a wide customer base for these portraits. The price of 7 shillings and 6 pence for a dozen carte-de-visite was equivalent to that for a cough bottle, a third-class train journey or a child’s petticoat (as per Drogheda newspapers).

Carte-de-visite by C.T. Farley, Drogheda, ca.1870

Charles Farley announced that he was to offer the carte-de-visite process from May 1864 with several adverts appearing in the Drogheda Conservative newspaper. Over the years he was based at several locations in the town including 11 West Street at Doctor Grey’s Medical Hall before moving to 8 Lawrence Street. George W. Neill also had a studio at the Lawrence Street address in the 1880s.

Here are some of the images and they show some very stylish individuals reflecting all the fashion trends of 1860s, ‘70s and ‘80s such as bustles, crinolines, feathered hats, top hats and button boots. The backs of the cards also show novel designs and details.

Carte-de-visite by C.T. Farley, Drogheda, ca. 1865
Carte-de-visite by Weston Bros., Drogheda, ca. 1880
C.T. Farley, Drogheda, verso of carte-de-visite, 1870

I have also included below an account of an event that was attended by the photographer Charles T. Farley giving a flavour of life in the town during the period.

Drogheda Conservative, 20th December 1873, p. 3

“Band of Hope Meeting in Drogheda – A reunion meeting of the Drogheda branch of this society, in connection with the Wesleyan Church was held on Wednesday evening in the School-Room, Lawrence Street. The attendance of friends and members was large, and fully demonstrated the extensive spread of the principles espoused by the admirable society in our town. After tea, &c. had been partaken of, readings and recitations were given by some members. Mr Charles Farley, exhibited a choice selection of dissolving  views, which added much to the enjoyment of the meeting. A number of Temperance melodies were sung with nice effect during the evening. The Misses Creaser and Plunkett presided on the harmonium.”

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I’m sad to see that the car free status of the Phoenix Park will end tomorrow on Monday the 18th of May. It has truly been an oasis of calm during this lockdown. In contrast this carte-de-visite shows a raucous Sunday evening return from the Strawberry Beds via Parkgate Street. The Strawberry Beds are located along the banks of the north side of the River Liffey and were a popular spot for day-trippers whose drunken return journeys could end in mishap. In Weston St. John Joyce’s Neighbourhood of Dublin (1912), he describes trips to the Strawberry Beds as follows:

“On fine Sundays in summer it was visited by large numbers from the city. Cars used to ply between Carlisle (now O’Connell) Bridge and “the Beds” at 3d a seat, and were so well patronised that it was not an infrequent sight to see a procession of these vehicles. amid blinding clouds of dust, extending the whole way from Parkgate Street to Knockmaroon. The outside cars, too, were longer in those days, and carried three passengers on each side without any due compression, not to speak of two or three in the well. The strawberry vendors, pipers, fiddlers, and publicans reaped a rich harvest, the sounds of revelry filled the air, and when the shades of night had fallen, numerous involuntary dismounts were made from the cars on the homeward journey.” p.357

I don’t usually collect non-photographic material but ‘filler’ or ‘photographic scraps’ such as this humorous print were often sold in the carte-de-visite format for inclusion in albums of mainly photographic material.

The print shows the distinctive stone piers leading to Chesterfield Avenue (the central thoroughfare through the Phoenix Park) which were erected in 1810. The piers along with their glass lanterns were removed in 1932 for the Eucharistic Congress and only re-installed in 1986. You can also see the Wellington Monument peaking out of the trees dating from 1861. The mural style drinking fountain in the foreground was commissioned by the Earl of Carlisle and designed by Deane and Woodward. It too dates from 1861 and its construction was part of the Drinking Fountain Movement which sought to provide clean water to the masses whose preference for beer (which was safer than many water supplies) was at odds with the Temperance Movement.

The clothes of those pictured in the print do not provide a strong indicator of its date as the men wear breeches and buckle shoes which were popular with workers throughout the 19th century. The women’s outfits are not depicted in detail although the skirts are wide and standing out as per the 1860s crinoline. The top-hated and frock coat wearing gentleman standing by the fountain could perhaps indicate that the image is contemporaneous to the Wellington Monument and the drinking fountain of 1861.

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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.


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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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.

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This glamorous lady was photographed as she walked by the railings of Trinity College in 1948. Her outfit adheres to the styles of the day: a black Mandarin hat complete with spotted veil; trapeze swing coat; clutch bag; gloves and a large leaf-shaped brooch. All were the height of fashion for 1948!

The handwriting on the print adds to rather than detracts from the photograph and although it is not a perfectly composed image it gives a real sense of Dublin in 1948 and shows how clothes were worn and fashions adopted on the street.

To get an idea of what else was happening in the city and a flavour of the times, I searched the newspapers for today’s date in 1948. The headlines were full of the Marshall Plan, the Berlin Conference and the ‘Palestine Problem’. According to Seán Ó Faoláin ‘Raidió Éireann was starved of finances’ and another article covered ‘Suggestions to improve Dublin Traffic.’

The Grafton Cinema was showing Spencer Tracey and Mickey Rooney in Boys’ Town and  the Carlton Cinema advertised the following: ‘Gorgeous and Gay! Exotic and Exciting! Lovely glamorous Yvonne de Carlo with George Brent, Brod Crawford, Andy Devine and Arthur Treacher in Slave Girl – dazzling Technicolor! Come to the 3.30 show – house booked out for tonight!’ If you didn’t want to go to the cinema there was always ‘Midget Car Racing’ at Santry Speedway or horseracing at Baldoyle.

Miss Louise Brough won the Ladies’ Singles Championship at Wimbledon and there were advertisements for rubber boots, sandals, pilgrimages to Lough Derg, Andrews Liver Salts, Elastic Stockings and Flak DDT offered to ‘Knock down that louse.’

Speaking of street style, the Where were you? team are putting on an exhibition of images from their Dublin youth culture book. It is part of the amazing Photo Ireland Festival 2012 and  is at the Lighthouse Cinema, Smithfield from Saturday 7th July.

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I am always delighted when I come across the work of an Irish photographic studio which was located outside the bigger cities and this carte-de-visite is a fine example from the County Monaghan town of Clones. I reckon it dates from the 1880s, as the strong featured woman wears her hair in the tightly curled style which was popular during this decade. The knotted military style braiding or frogging is also a nice detail. I think the large corsage might be of orange blossom which would make this a wedding portrait as that flower was associated with marriage. 

The studio of J. Galway was located at 21 Fermanagh Street. By 1901, the business was run by 62 year old widow Mrs. Sarah Jane Galway and her daughter Katherine. In the next census, which took place in 1911, Katherine lists her occupation as ‘Photographer and organist’ and is living with a ‘Helper/Companion’ called Ellie Murphy.

As with many of the photographs in my collection, this one was sent to America providing an important link to family back in Ireland.

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