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Posts Tagged ‘Irish Photography’

Woman-CentralStudios500

I bought this photograph because I love images of girls wearing glasses. Her cloche hat, tapestry/brocade coat and corsage epitomise 1920s cool. The photograph was taken in The Central Studio, 13 North Earl Street, Dublin. Little did I know, that the women who ran the studio were just as fascinating as the image.

Harriette E. Lavery is listed in the Thom’s directory as the studio’s occupant from 1918 until 1946. I located her family on the 1901 census where she was living in Belfast with her father, a photographer, thus demonstrating a link to the trade. However, my explorations became more interesting when I found a link to a site showing Harriette’s memorial card stating that she died in 1923 from anthrax poisoning! It appears that the forty-six year old widow contracted her illness during her imprisonment for Civil War Republican activities. Harriette was jailed alongside her daughter, Maynie (1901-1976), in Kilmainham Gaol and the North Dublin Union. Maynie was an active member of Cumann na mBan and her future husband, Ned Reid was imprisoned in Marlborough Prison during the same period. (For further details see Sinéad McCoole’s No Ordinary Women: Irish Female Activists in the Revolutionary Years 1900-1923, Dublin: The O’Brien Press, 2003)

Maynie continued the business after her mother’s death but no change was made to the Thom’s listing. Over the twenty-seven years’ that the photographic studio was based at this address its neighbours included Keenan’s café, the Russell hairdressing saloon and the Maypole Dairy. At one stage, the Lavery family also ran a café at No.13 which they called ‘Dalriada.’ This was also the name of a hotel owned by Harriette’s maternal family at the seaside village of Howth, County Dublin.

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Image

For nearly one hundred years, the Midland Great Western Railway serviced the small County Cavan village of Crossdoney. This station, along with many others, closed in the mid-twentieth century. Only one third of the 5,600 km (3,480 miles) of track that existed in 1920 remains today. Many border counties, such as Cavan, are now without a rail service.

The remaining rail infrastructure and stations are beautifully recorded on the Eiretrains blog and you can see photographs of the near derelict station at Crossdoney here.

This photograph was printed on a postcard and may or may not have been available commercially. I cannot imagine that this odd and slightly blurred image was a big seller. Perhaps, it fits into the category of ‘boring postcards’ although I think that there is more to it than appears at first glance. Essentially it depicts nothing more than a sign and some railings, however, it also marks a very specific geographic location and signifies the way in which the railway connected such locales to the wider world.

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I have featured images from this Northern Irish album in a previous post. The photographs were taken by H.J. Malcomson from Belfast with a Kodak Vest Pocket camera between 1925 and 1932. Most snapshot albums are filled with images of family events and occasions, however, this photographer had artistic aspirations. Even though the prints are tiny (6.5cm x 4.5cms) the photographer has succeeded in creating stark and abstract images of large scale landscape features in Antrim and Down.

 

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I reckon that this cabinet card features the waterfall at the Powerscourt Estate in County Wicklow and that it was taken sometime in the late 1880s or early 1890s. The group are wearing pretty formal attire and I particularly like the heavily boned outfit worn by the women in the middle of the frame. Her companion wears a slightly less restrictive and modern skirt and blouse combo. The man to the fore of the image rests a pith helmet on his knee – perhaps a bit of overkill for an Irish summer!

The label on the back of the card states that copies can be obtained for 1 shilling. The 1883 Post Office Directory lists John Eagar of ‘Rosemount’, Dargle Road, Bray, County Wicklow, as a superintendent for Prudential Life Assurance, however, by 1889, John has become a photographer. The business was a short-lived one and he disappears from this address by 1903. Unfortunately, I haven’t been able to find out anything more about Mr. Eagar. His work is not listed in Eddie Chandler’s Photography in Ireland: the Nineteenth Century and this is the only example of his work which I know of. 


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These photographs are from one of my recent acquisitions: an album of photographs, mostly snapshots, taken by a County Cavan family between 1900 and 1920. William Coyne is wearing strangely formal attire for a photograph taken in the backyard of a Dublin house: the full dress suit is matched by a stiff white collar and top hat. Sarah’s upswept hair and lace blouse/skirt combination were typical of the early twentieth century. 

I haven’t been able to definitively locate the Coynes on either the 1901 or 1911 census. He might have been the statistician William P. who in the 1901 census lived on St. Stephen’s Street or the Chief Inspector of Great Northern Railways who resided in Phibsborough? 

Despite the serious demeanour of the humans in these photographs the images make me laugh. The cat’s arched back is caught perfectly by the camera and the dog’s quizzical expression, as he stares up into this owner’s face, add a comical twist to an otherwise grim atmosphere. 

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Dublin City Libraries have chosen James Joyce’s Dubliners to be the featured title in their initiative One City, One Book. I’ve mentioned the book before in earlier posts, however, the project brought to mind several images from my collection which remind me of Joyce’s references to photography within the short stories. I love Joyce’s descriptions of interiors, particularly in The Dead and the following photographs feature similar subjects and conjure up the same atmosphere as occurs in the stories.

From The Dead:  “Her photograph stood before the pierglass. She held an open book on her knees and was pointing out something in it to Constantine who, dressed in a man-o-war suit, lay at her feet.”

The man-o-war suit mentioned in the story was a version of the then popular sailor suits worn by little boys during the mid to late nineteenth-century. The trousers in this variety were long legged and were often worn with a wide-brimmed straw hat like the example below from the Werner studio of Grafton Street. Joyce himself was photographed as a young boy wearing a sailor suit.

From A Little Cloud: “It was Annie’s photograph. Little Chandler looked at it, pausing at the thin tight lips. She wore the pale blue summer blouse which he had brought her home as a present one Saturday … He looked coldly into the eyes of the photograph and they answered coldly. Certainly they were pretty and the face itself was pretty. But he found something mean in it. Why was it so unconscious and ladylike? The composure of the eyes irritated him. They repelled him and defied him: there was no passion in them, no rapture.”

I think the expression of the woman above matches that described by Joyce in the story ‘The Little Cloud’. Blouse and skirt combinations were very popular during the 1890s and 1900s – the period during which Joyce wrote Dubliners and when the story is set.
From Eveline: “And yet during all those years she had never found out the name of the priest whose yellowing photograph hung on the wall above the broken harmonium beside the coloured print of the promises made to Blessed Mary May Alacoque. He had been a school friend of her father. Whenever he showed the photograph to a visitor her father used to pass it with a casual word:
‘He is in Melbourne now.’ ”

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When I first saw these 1931 photographs, I was immediately reminded of Arthur Penn’s film Bonnie and Clyde which tells the story of the infamous armed robbers Bonnie Parker and Clyde Barrow. Snapshots found by police at the couple’s abandoned hideout in 1934 helped to spread their notoriety and are referenced within the film.There aren’t any guns visible in these images of a day trip to the seaside town of Ballycotton, County Cork, however, the 1930s styles are very similar to those worn by Bonnie and Clyde!

I particularly like the lady’s beret, tweed coat, sheer tights and clutch bag. Her companion wears his suit and Fedora hat with great swagger and charm. These hats were often worn tipped down over one eye at a rakish angle and were favored by American gangsters. Suits with double-breasted jackets and wide trouser legs were very fashionable in the early 1930s.

The Irish snapshots were taken on the 12th of July 1931 and were safely put into a Kodak wallet complete with negatives. The Kodak girl is, as ever, sporting the latest styles and her bobbed hair and white collar are not disimilar to the Ballycotton woman’s.

The promotional wallet mentions an amateur photographic competition with prizes awarded to photographs taken between the 1st of May and the 31st of August 1931.  I have featured Kodak advertising in an earlier post and look forward to seeing a recent book on Kodak ephemera based on the Martha Cooper collection.

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