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Posts Tagged ‘World War I’

This portrait shows Elsie Thompson Harrison of Brighton Square, Dublin in her nursing uniform and it was most likely taken during World War One. Her family are listed on the 1911 census as owning a hardware business and as being part of the Plymouth Brethern – an evangelical movement established in Dublin in the 1820s. Her brother had the unusual name of Gordon Trizzant Harrison and I was able to discover that her sister studied at the Dublin Metropolitan School of Art. I have located her on the online registers for the college: an excellent resource which is available through the website of the National College of Art and Design.

The portrait was taken by a firm called Lloyd’s of Dublin. Directories show that they were based at 30 Grafton Street from ca. 1910 until 1939. It was run firstly by E. Henry Lloyd and then by H. Lawrence Lloyd. The format is sized between a carte-de-visite and a cabinet card and has beveled gilt edges. The printing process is quite like those which were popular with Fine Art photographers for their grainy and painterly effects. Whatever the process used by Lloyd, its warm hues and the soft focus add to the subject matter and lend a sombre atmosphere to the portrait.

In contrast Lloyd also traded under the name of Mr Stickyback! See here for an overview of the sticky back photographic craze of the 1910s.

It is not clear whether or not Elsie was a fully trained nurse. Guilds and voluntary groups met throughout the country to prepare packs for soldiers or to take basic First Aid lessons, however, her decision to go to a studio in her uniform may indicate that nursing represented paid employment for her. The census shows that her sister had to earn her living as she is listed as an ‘Art Teacher and Governess.’

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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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