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Posts Tagged ‘Tourism and Photography’

This postcard was sent on the 11th July 1951 and the brief message tells of simple seaside pleasures. The vibrant colours are a tad unrealistic for an Irish summer. The holiday crowd in the foreground wear typical 1950s fashions with most of the men in suits. The reds, pinks and greens of the clothing are particularly enhanced and exaggerated. It was produced by one of the largest postcard manufacturers in the world Valentine and Sons. I have featured other Irish images from their earlier ranges elsewhere in the blog and I wrote the entry on them in John Hannavy’s Encyclopedia of Nineteenth Century Photography.

Bray, County Wicklow has a long tradition as a holiday destination and a guidebook dating from 1867 pretty much describes this postcard view: “The remarkable promontory of Bray head rises boldly from the sea to a height of 807 feet and forms the most conspicuous object in the surrounding landscape from its summit, which is of easy access, an extensive view is commanded of the coast and adjacent country, of the town in its bearings, and the mountains by which it is surrounded,” from Sunny memories of Ireland’s scenic beauties: Wicklow.’ It was published in Dublin in 1867 by Browne and Nolan and included photographs by Frederick H. Mares of Grafton Street.

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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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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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I have just returned from Kerry where I had an amazing time at the Listowel Writers’ Week. The atmosphere was really friendly and I thoroughly enjoyed the literary walking tour of the town which included some of the places mentioned in John B. Keane‘s plays and stories. The talks given by David Sedaris and the biographer Michael Holroyd were well worth the journey. I can’t wait to go back for next year’s festival. 

This trip to Kerry reminded me of some beautiful kodachrome slides featuring the county which were taken by an English tourist in 1967. I have shared some of them previously on this blog but now that I have witnessed the beauty of Banna Strand for myself (this is where the sea holly was photographed) I thought I’d post a few more. 

The image of the men carrying the currach boat at Scraggane Pier reminds me of Bill Doyle‘s colour photographs of Inis Oírr taken in 1965 and I find the ruined cottage particularly poignant and a reminder of an Ireland that has vanished. 

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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 have posted about this collection on a previous occasion and it contains some great images of a tourist’s visit to Ireland in 1967. Even though we complain about Irish summers I honestly think that the slightly menacing sky in the first slide is far more interesting than a clear blue one. I also think that the Kodachrome process really enhances the Irish landscape bringing out the various green and blue hues. The small figures on Banna Strand, County Kerry and the children playing on the dunnes in the second image taken at Rossbeigh Beach pull you into the images giving them a sense of scale and animation. You can also see some interesting earlier Kodachrome photographs at House of Mirth


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These colour slides were taken by an unknown English tourist in the summer of 1967. I think this photographer had a great eye and the sixty or so slides which I bought online include some real gems. The first photograph shows Oliver Plunkett Street, Cork and I particularly like the shop signs and the reflections in the car mirror. The others show a very blue Dingle Harbour and sea urchin shells collected at Derrynane, County Kerry. The latter is a really strong image  and the repeat pattern created by the shells is particularly appealing. 

The vivd Kodachrome colour works equally well on both the streetscape and natural landscape. This process was launched in 1939 and only ceased production last year. Farewell Kodachrome is a site dedicated to the process and it contains some great images and essays. A book and exhibition by Guy Stricherz called Americans in Kodachrome, 1945-1965 contains ninety images taken, like these three, by anonymous amateur photographers.

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