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Posts Tagged ‘Dublin Postcards’

I wrote about the daytime version of this Dublin scene in an earlier post on the pre-1907 phenomenon of writing messages on the front of postcards. The same photograph was altered by the publishers for use in the ‘Valentine Moonlight Series.’ The addition of a full moon; a reduction in the traffic and the depopulated street transform the original scene into a quieter nocturnal world.

Valentine and Sons were one of the main producers of postcards at the turn of the nineteenth century and I wrote an entry on their extensive business for John Hannavy’s Encyclopedia of Nineteenth Century Photography.

The message on the 1904 postcard is a fascinating snippet of life. Apparently the person sending the postcard has been inconvenienced by the death of an uncle and may not now be able to go on a proposed outing with Miss Brenton!

‘Dear A, Uncle died on Tuesday afternoon. I am not quite sure if the folks here will think I ought to got to the fair, but will come if I can.’

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Before 1907, if you were sending a postcard to the United States you couldn’t write anything other than the address on the back of the card. As a result of this people wrote their messages around the image and this led to an interesting and quirky intersection of words and pictures. The pattern created by the text against the image is often fascinating. The sender of the first postcard from Howth/Beann Eadair has managed to write a considerable amount of text over the sea and sky! It was sent to California in April 1905. The second card was sent to Boston in 1905 and mentions a trip to the Dublin Horse Show and Donaghadee, near Belfast. 

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This postcard was sent by J. Galt to Miss Jeanie Logan, Mid Auchenmade, Kilwinning, Ayrshire, Scotland on the 2nd April 1917 and it reads as follows: 

“Dear Jeanie, I think I mentioned to you, we have now transferred our quarters to the Royal Barracks Dublin. That’s the Black Watch drawn up on the square, not us. That would be before the outbreak of hostilities but the buildings are just the same – somber and prison like. Trust you are all well, will write soon, J. Galt.” 

I had thought that it would be relatively easy to identify J. Galt through the online army records at the English National Archives, Kew Gardens but the surname is not as unusal as I believed. There are at least 107 J. Galt’s serving in the British Army during this period of World War I – so whether he survived and returned to Scotland or became a casualty is not know. Another factor which hampers this search is the fact that one has to pay to view the army records at Kew and also to view Scottish census records. Thankfully the National Archives of Ireland do not charge for access to their excellent 1911 census project.  

I did find out, however, that Mr Galt did not go on to marry Jeanie Logan. The 29 year old married James Craig, a farmer, on the 2nd of June 1921. 

The photograph was taken by the firm of Lafayette – a company which still exists in Dublin today and the postcard was printed by the company of Bourke’s Stationers, Parkgate Street, Dublin which was located very near to the barracks. 

The Royal Barracks was renamed Collins Barracks, when handed over to the Irish Free State, in 1922. It now houses the National Museum of Ireland where I work! I have to agree with Mr. Galt that some of the surrounding buildings are still somber and prison like though the museum itself is great.

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