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Posts Tagged ‘West of Ireland’

colourphotos-1

My guess is that these colour photographs of the West of Ireland were most likely taken by a professional photographer as the verso refers to them as test shots. The warm brown tones and violet blues are more subtle than the hyper coloured images taken by John Hinde. Indeed, this first image is reminiscent of Hinde’s famous photograph of the red haired boy and his sister which featured on a 1960s postcard. Both photographs were taken in Connemara and show a donkey and a creel of turf. See here for Seán Hillen’s collage based on the iconic postcard.

colourphotos-2

I love the angle from which this photograph was taken. It is captioned as follows: ‘Cargo being unloaded into currachs from C.I.E. ship Noamh Éanna, Off Inisheer, Aran Islands, 8th August 1968.’ The figure in the top right hand corner and the third boat, which is only partially visible, add interest to its composition.

colourphotos-3

The third street scene is full of the browns and orange hues which are typical of late ’60s colour photography. It features two shops on Ellison Street, Castlebar, County Mayo. These are Peter Dever’s grocery which is proclaimed on the shop front as ‘The House for Bacon’ and Beckett’s tobacconist. I have previously posted kodachrome slides taken during the same period, however, the colours were more saturated with stronger reds than in these prints. I’ve been reading The Genius of Colour Photography by Pamela Roberts which contains some great examples of the art of colour photography although I have yet to identify what type of film was used in these Irish photographs.

On another matter, I am giving two talks during heritage week later this month: one on photographs of the families of participants in the 1916 Rising at the Pearse Museum, Rathfarnham (Tuesday 20th) and another on dating family photographs at the National Library of Ireland (Friday 23rd).

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I am going on my holidays tomorrow to County Sligo and hope to have as much fun as the group pictured on this page of a 1920s snapshot album. The family were from middle-class Clontarf and perfectly matched the sector at whom the snapshot camera was marketed. They certainly look like they are enjoying themselves!

Luckily, I have the album in its entirety which allows me to infer much about the family, their friends, interests and concerns. I hate to see album pages being sold separately and removed from their original context. The careful placing together of certain images and the interplay of pages tells us much about the author’s intent. This is explored brilliantly by Barbara Levine in her work Snapshot Chronicles: inventing the American Photo Album.

The bathing attire was right on trend for the 1920s. The women appear to be wearing one-piece costumes called tank suits, a style which was popularized by the Australian swimmer, Annette Kellerman. Many of these suits have bold geometric patterns. Bathing caps protected the women’s bobbed hair and mirror the cloche hats of the era.

The pre-Lycra fabric looks like it would definitely sag when wet!

The men’s costumes are also one-piece and the suit at the rear of the picture includes a button closure at the shoulder – a popular design feature during the 1920s.

From elsewhere in the album, I know that the young girl pictured above was called Doreen and that she was about 6 years of age in 1926, dating this snapshot to the late 1920s. I also know that the extended family holidayed in Rossnowlagh and Bundoran, County Donegal, where these photographs might possibly have been taken?

As ever, the snapshots inadvertently capture little details like the girl’s white shoes which are held in the hands of a female relative and the barely visible pioneer pin on the young man’s lapel to the left of this picture. I particularly like the fully suited gentleman who appears to have made no change to his outfit for the seaside trip.

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