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Posts Tagged ‘1920s Dublin’

I have been guilty of neglecting this blog over the last year mainly due to finishing my PhD. I’m getting back to it now with this image of Ormond Quay Upper, Dublin. It dates from early 1920 or 1921 when the quays were still cobbled and had two-way traffic. Young children, some shoeless, follow a military band and marching ‘soldiers.’ These are most likely auxiliaries who formed a paramilitary unit of the Royal Irish Constabulary. Set up during the Irish War of Independence, they were infamous for their reprisals against the civilian population and were generally disliked.

Passengers on the upper deck of the open-topped No. 24 tram lean out to watch them pass. The tram followed a route from Parkgate Street to O’Connell Street. During this period, the Dublin tram system was extensive and by 1911 there were 330 trams criss-crossing the city. The 24 route was first established in 1874 and it closed in 1938.

Capel Street bridge is visible in the distance and it is also possible to make out the sign on No. 20 which was a temporary branch of Bank of Ireland. A new Ormond Quay branch of the bank was built further along the quays. The architects were Millar & Symes.

 

No. 18 Upper Ormond Quay housed Watts Brothers gunsmiths from 1969 to 1999. In 1920 is was a hotel and restaurant and it is currently undergoing restoration by the Dublin Civic Trust. I was also delighted to see that another building on this block is being restored by Sunni L. Goodson and you can find an account of her work on the building here. The photographer David Jazay took some great images of the quays before many of the original buildings were demolished. You can see his work here.

 

Whilst researching this photograph I came across an amazing photograph taken along the same quays ca. in 1900. It shows Roche’s hairdressers at No. 31. It is a beautiful shop front with interesting signwriting. Hairpieces hang in the window. The business was founded in 1889 by Lucinda (Lucy) Roche (nee Byrne). The little boy in the sailor suit is Sean Roche who went on to fight in the 1916 Rising. Thanks to Ciaran Clarke, for permission to re-post the photo. Ciaran is a descendant of Lucy’s and the 5th generation of the family to work in the business. He runs two barbershops in Kildare and you can find out more about the history of the family business here. Thanks also to my colleague Lar Joye for identifying the unit as auxiliaries.

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The subject matter of this photograph shows the playfulness of snapshot photography. The incidental details such as the wallpaper, worn chair and the doorway add to the overall ambience and the white flannel trousers are very typical of the 1920s.

The photograph was processed by Elite Portrait Studios, Rathmines, which was run by Max Stein for several years in the 1920s. In addition to photographic processing (using The Elite Process) he also offered camera rental! I like the simple stamp on the back of the photo – it contrasts with the ornate logos used by earlier studios.

The photographic trade was thought by many to be an easy way to make money but business didn’t go well for Max. A 1928 court report in The Irish Times shows that he owed £232 to Amalgamated Photographic Manufacturers (London) for photographic supplies obtained on credit. The business was registered in his Russian-born father’s name as Max was under twenty-one when he started the studio. His father Solomon, according to the article, was a rabbit skin-dealer at Britain Street, off Parnell Street.

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This hand-tinted photograph is most likely from the 1920s. The colouring is really well executed and was undertaken by the Octova Studios, 52 South King Street, Dublin. The studio specialised in theatrical and artistic portraits and was located beside the Gaiety Theatre in a building which now houses a joke shop called Funny Place!  

Mr. K. Raphael Wall was the proprietor and he offered paintings, plaster casts and photographic portraits from 1/- to £100. A notice placed in The Irish Times on Saturday 6th December 1924 stated that Mr. Wall was to deliver a lecture on portrait painting to art students on the following Monday. One wonders if the sitter was a young art student or an actress from the nearby theatre?

The  studio was still in business in 1932 but isn’t mentioned in any of the city newspapers again until 1936 when a Miss Kathleen Wall (late of Octova Galleries) opened the Raphael Gallery around the corner on Grafton Street.

There are some excellent examples of hand coloured photographs on John Foster’s blog Accidental Mysteries and the collection of found and vernacular photographs which he shares with Teenuh Foster is equally interesting. It is featured on their site which also contains links to other vernacular and found photograph sites.

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