Posts Tagged ‘Found photos Ireland’


This bizarre object is evidence of heavy-handed colouring carried out to such an extent that the original photograph is almost totally obscured. The cartouche on the back of the carte-de-visite reads ‘Truth and Light’ – a popular motto for photographers – although in this case the ‘truthfulness’ of the image may have been somewhat lost.

The upholstered leather chair is just about visible in the background. The child’s hair resembles a mohican style with the sides brushed or gelled back and the curls piled up on top. His/Her face has been deliberately scored or scratched which is a pity, however, the expression can still be made out.


The photograph was taken by Edmund G. Ganly (1843-1930), who announced the opening of his business in The Irish Times on the 3rd of October 1868 as follows:

“Important photographic notice – Mr. Edmund G. Ganly. Late principal photographer to Mr. J. Simonton, 70 Grafton Street, Begs respectfully to announce to the nobility, gentry and the inhabitants of Dublin and its vicinity, that he has opened the studio, 43 Grafton Street. N.B. 10 doors from Stephen’s Green. ”

The Simonton studio mentioned above features in some of my earlier blog posts and was also known as The Royal Panopticon of Science and Art. By 1888 Ganly had moved to London and was to continue in the photographic trade for many years.

On another note, I am delighted to be speaking at a conference in Dublin next week: ‘Object Matters: the material and visual culture of the Easter Rising’ is taking place at the Civic Offices next Friday and Saturday, 26th and 27th of April. The full programme is available here.

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I love the colours in these early 70s holiday snapshots which I purchased from an online seller recently. There is something very evocative about this Kodak colour process with its strong red and brown hues. 

The photographs were taken by Irish-American tourists in 1971 and include the slightly surreal image of an A and B pay phone. This pay phone system required the caller to contact an operator and if for some reason the call didn’t go through they could hit the ‘B’ button to return their coins. I wonder if the photograph was taken in an airport and that the green phone is perhaps a courtesy phone? I cannot make out the headlines on the newspaper which might have provided clues as to the time of year. 

I’ve identified the clock tower in the background of this photograph as that on Waterford Quay which was built in 1881. The man is the foreground appears to be enjoying his holiday. 

Upon their return to the United States, the travellers chose to photograph the items they had purchased during their trip to England and Ireland. It provides a great insight into the types of souvenirs which were popular with tourists during the period. I recognise several brands including an Irish Wade pin dish and a leprechaun figure which looks very like those made by Crolly in Donegal. They also bought plenty of linen teacloths and some strange looking records.

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This post features another workplace photograph showing staff standing in front of Hodgins Drapers, Nenagh, County Tipperary at ten to two on the afternoon of Wednesday 19th May 1937.

Some of the shop girls look like they are wearing the one-bar shoes shown in a 1937 advertisement in The Nenagh Guardian. Most of the women wear slim fitting, belted dresses and all appear to have had their hair cut into bobs and slightly waved. The remind me of the characters in one of my favourite films The Shop Around the Corner (1940) which focuses upon the lives of the staff in a Budapest department store. This was later remade into the terrible You’ve got Mail (1998).  

Hodgins was in existence for over 110 years when the last member of the family, Reggie, sold the business in 1991. 

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Sometimes regional studios throw up very unusual images, as these photographs from Galway and Limerick demonstrate. Although they display the usual studio props and formats, the sitters’ attire and demeanour make for atypical images.

The grandfather and grand-daughter taken by Walter Hopkins, 6 Eglinton Street, Galway, present a compelling image. The old man is definitely not used to having his photograph taken and one feels that this was probably his first time in a photographic studio. His rough homespun suit and stance are from an older Ireland. Perhaps he is from the islands or a worker on the docks? This man was probably born before the Famine and grew up in a very different world to the one in which the young girl will live.

I haven’t been able to find out much about Hopkins and he appears to have practised in the last few decades of the 19th century. He is credited with taking a portrait of the writer, Pádraic Ó Conaire, in the 1890s. I reckon that the photograph above pre-dates this as its logo and card are more crudely executed than on the Ó Conaire picture.

The Limerick carte-de-visite, shows a mother and her four daughters in their finery. The matching hats, skirts and fringed shawls are quite over the top. Their faces look gaunt and drawn and you can definitely see the family similarity. I also love any sort of cheesy studio prop and this fake garden arch is great if somewhat obscured by the five women who are crammed into the photograph. I reckon that the tilted forward hats date the photograph to the early 1870s.

Limerick-born Thomas Bernard ran his photographic studio for at least five decades from the 1870s to the 1910s, after which, I cannot find any record of him. Even though he had ten children it appears that none of them wanted to become photographers!

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This image comes from a small snapshot album covering the mid 1930s to the end of World War Two. It starts with carefree photos of young people at various seaside towns in England and moves on to wartime shots of military hospitals and navy ports. The final image is of the gravestone of Frank William Holloway of the Derby Yeomanry, who died in Tunisia aged 25 on the 26th March 1943.

The middle of the album includes several photographs taken in Ireland when a group of men were on leave from the British Army. It typifies the playfulness of the snapshot and I love the abstract shapes created by the unusual positioning of the four friends as they look down at the camera.

The intersection of text and images adds to the page though I’ll probably never know who the ‘me’ captioned in the photo was! The repeated use of the same photographs is something I have encountered in many amateur albums and one wonders whether they were added as filler or to make a particular point within the narrative.

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I am off to New York for ten days and on that note I thought I’d post one of my latest snapshot purchases which, although not Irish per se, has a distinctly Irish-American theme. This snapshot was taken on the boardwalk at Atlantic City, New Jersey, and features a stylish 1920s dame sitting on a ridiculously fake model of the Wishing Seat at the Giant’s Causeway in County Antrim.  Presumably the sitter had to pay to pose on the seat and it is interesting to note that the Irish landmark was well enough known to have a resonance with the American public. 

I particularly like the cut-off American flag and the groups in the background. These are typical snapshot details which were not necessarily the object of the photographer’s gaze.

The woman’s outfit is quintessential 1920s style and includes most of the trends from the era discussed in a comprehensive post from the fashion history blog Gamour Daze. These include the cloche hat and t-bar shoes and even though her face is obscured by a flaw in the print I think the snapshot as a whole evokes the holiday location and the flapper era. One of my favourite films is The King of Marvin Gardens which was shot in Atlantic City. It is also highly atmospheric but shows the location in the early 1970s when it was long past its peak. 


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I bought this photograph (and many others) from a seller in Spitalfields Markets, London. A colleague reckons that it might be one of the Irish sea trading schooners which worked out of Arklow, County Wicklow. To me the image, which was taken on Easter Sunday 1925, seems to evoke a much earlier era. I came across a couple of blog posts which outline a bizarre incident in which a tramcar crashed into a very similar schooner in Ringsend! The last remaining wooden topsail schooner, The Kathleen and May, is currently for sale and the owner’s website contains some great information. 


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The work photo is a genre that interests me, whether it is occupational studio portraits or more casual snapshots of the crowd from the office. Photographs showing workers with the tools of their trade were regularly commissioned in the first decades of photography. These mirrored earlier painted portraits and this example from Dublin was taken by Louis Werner sometime in the 1860s when his studio was based at 15 Leinster Street South, Dublin. The unknown man ‘works’ on an unfinished chair and the fact that he is shown in his shirt sleeves (without an overcoat or jacket) singles him out as a worker rather than a ‘gentleman’. Unfortunately there are no clues as to who he was or which firm of cabinetmakers he worked for.

This group (possibly from Tipperary) reminds me of the workers in Robert Tressell’s The Ragged Trousered Philanthropists. Upon closer inspection it is full of great details including the various styles of hats; the trowels held by some of the men; the photographer’s shadow and the well-worn overalls. It is also brings to mind August Sander’s portraits of dock and road workers.

The austere young clerk pictured at his desk is captioned only with his surname – Barcroft -and could be the legal apprentice of that name living in Donnybrook in the 1901 census. It is a typical turn-of- the-century office. I love the industrial style lamp and the glass-fronted cases behind him. You can nearly hear the clock ticking in the background and imagine the stifling atmosphere of the office. 

The final image is a snapshot of my mother and her workmates at  the office  of the solicitor’s Porter Morris, 10 Clare Street, Dublin taken in 1960. The snapshot is casual and all are smiling /performing for the camera. It gives away none of the tensions of the working world: the petty  jealousies and bickering nor does it reveal who pulled their weight or was popular with their co-workers. Then again, it may have been a very pleasant place to work.


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I took a stroll down to Park Place yesterday to see if I could locate the building from which Guthrie Brothers operated. I have always liked the row of two and three storey houses which are located on an otherwise bleak stretch beside the Phoenix Park. The walk between Conyngham Road and Islandbridge features in James Joyce’s short story ‘A painful case’ where it is described as lonely and desolate. According to the 1901 census the business was in No.7 Park Place, however, I think some of the houses must have been demolished as there is no number 7 on that row now.

The Guthrie Brothers were born in China and South Africa, however, their mother hailed from County Fermanagh. They describe themselves on the census as ‘Photographic Artists’. The business was ideally located beside several military barracks including Islandbridge (Clancy) Barracks and the Royal now Collins Barracks. I believe the man in the photograph served in a regiment called The Buffs otherwise known as the Royal East Kent Regiment. It was probably taken between the 1890s and 1910s and is in the Cabinet Card format. A finger print is visible on the image- perhaps it was one of the Guthrie Brothers or their assistants! This person’s face and demeanor does nothing to dispel the image of the dour and stern military man!  

Like the Guthrie Brothers, Mr Honey (great name) boasts royal patronage. I think the man in the photograph also served with the Buffs though it is a more humane portrait than that taken by the Guthries. The sitter is younger and is not as imposing. The photographer was born in Devizes, Wiltshire and moved to Cork in the 1890s. The 1901 census shows that daughters gave violin lessons. 

The design on the verso of the photograph has some nice little details including a bamboo fan featuring a seascape and some ‘oriental’ patterns and line drawings. I bought the two photographs separately but I think they really make a good pairing!


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This snapshot is crammed full of amazing details like the sign for ‘private wine rooms upstairs’;  the young fella peaking over the odd little car;  the banner advertising Player’s cigarettes and the shadowy sign in the window. Despite my loathing of Arthur’s Day I am still fond of the ‘Guinness is good for you’ sign.

This photograph has me totally puzzled though as I cannot locate a Dublin pub whose street number is 32 and which is also next door to a stationer’s/tobacconist’s. The name of the shop looks like Hegarty and in the original print I can faintly make out a surname ending in ‘lly’ on the etched pub sign. I have checked one or two Thom’s Street directories for the 1920s, 30s and 40s but to no avail.

Perhaps the photograph wasn’t taken in Dublin which would disappoint me though it really shouldn’t matter as the image is a great snippet of street life wherever it originates. Any suggestions welcome?

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