Saturday, December 8, 2012

Color Images of Ireland from 1913

Claddagh, Co. Galway, Ireland

The entirety of this post is taken from Turtle Bunbury's Wistorical page in Facebook. You can see the original here.

In May 1913, Marguerite Mespoulet and Madeleine Mignon, two French women in their early 30s, arrived in Co. Galway, armed with heavy cameras and, more importantly the Autochrome Lumière plates, which enabled them to produce the first colour images of Ireland.

Their assignment to photograph the people of Galway was part of a massive project entitled ‘The Archives of the Planet’ sponsored by a wealthy French banker and philanthropist called Albert Kahn.

These photographs show that old Ireland was by no means as austere as traditional black and white photographs imply. As well as the brown bogs, yellowing gorse and grey skies, the two French ladies captured the people of Claddagh and Spiddal wearing costumes so colourful they would not be out of place in the Himalayas.

In her journal, Mespoulet wrote: ‘The young men leave for North America, the young women too and when the old die the house is abandoned and falls into ruin. There is hardly a village where one doesn't find forlorn skeletons of small grey houses invaded by nettles.’

Kahn went on to lose his fortune with the Wall Street Crash of 1929, but his immense Archive amassed some 72,000 color photographs between 1909-1931, including 73 of Ireland by Mespoulet and Mignon.

You can see a slide show of these early Irish photographs here

The photographs, recognized as one of the finest collections in the world, now reside at the site of Kahn’s garden in the Musee Albert Kahn at 14, Rue du Port, Boulogne-Billancourt, Paris.

Columbia's Rare Book and Manuscript Library holds a collection of Mespoulet's papers. As far as I can tell, there's still masses to learn from Kahn's exceptional project, so if anyone out there is seeking a new line of hobby ...

Wednesday, November 14, 2012

Three new pictures

Our friend Steve Sullivan sends these three pictures to share with us.

1. Riobard O'Dwyer playing his accordion in his Eyeries home
2. A plaque at the Urhan School honoring Riobard (forty one years teaching)
3. A picture of Eyeries looking southwest over Coulagh Bay toward Urhan and Allihies.

Saturday, September 22, 2012

Donal O'Siodhachain, a familiar name to regular readers, recently married his long-time fiance, Patricia.
Donal, Patricia, and Father John J. O'Riordain
The bride's cousin Joan shared the following account of the event:

The wedding was at a beautiful church in the village, just five minutes’ walk from the hotel. The Mass was lovely, and very successfully incorporated a mixture of traditional Irish and Scottish features: traditional airs on Uileann pipes, fiddle, accordion, guitar and whistle, played with flair and accomplishment by Gerry, Denis and Paddy; readings and prayers in both English and Irish, movingly delivered by Ita, Bertha, Helen, Clarissa, Nkosi, Alexiane and Denis; and two lovely poems – ‘Days’ by Limerick’s Tim Cunningham, beautifully read by June, and ‘September Heresy’ by Hamish McLaren, which was presented with aplomb by Donal’s friend, the charismatic storyteller Tim Evans.
These two poems could not have been better chosen for their aptness on the occasion: their lyrics, and the sentiments contained therein, touched the hearts, the minds and the emotions of everyone in the congregation. They were complemented by the beautiful hymns: ‘The Deer’s Cry’ and ‘Make me a Channel of your Peace’ – both of which encapsulated the strength of your commitment to each other, and the faith and positivity of your courageous acceptance of whatever God’s plan may be for you in the future.
Father JJ celebrated the Mass and the Rite of Marriage with a depth of sincerity that is rarely seen in these 21st century days, and bridesmaid Jacquie’s wondrous voice stunned the congregation. She and Mairtin, both in their solos and together, inspired a wall-breaking volume of communal singing and celebration.
The walk back along the road to the hotel was memorable! Sixty or more people processed behind the bride and groom – led by the Scottish piper – and were greeted all along the route by cars and pedestrians hooting and cheering in shared celebration!
On arrival back in the hotel at 5.30ish, we were greeted with a warming log fire and a wonderfully ambient ‘Drinks Reception’. This was an opportunity to mix and mingle with relatives whom we had not seen since April 2008 or even earlier – including June and Ethna; Angie, Bertrand, Clarissa and Alexiane; and Bernie, Sean, Pam and Karen.
The reception meal was probably the nicest wedding meal we have ever had! I don’t think we have ever been offered such a choice of dishes. Ian and I chose the chicken+black pudding starter, which was delicious and beautifully presented. We were sitting with Pat and her daughter Siobhan. They chose Greek salad, and said it was lovely. For the main meal, between the four of us, we chose the beef, the salmon, or the aubergine dish. All were wonderful! The dessert ‘trio’ was amazing! I’ve only ever seen desserts like that on Masterchef on TV! It was so beautifully presented, and tasted as good as it looked!
The speeches were moving, interesting and entertaining. Ethna’s speech had everyone laughing uproariously – as did your own story of the lost rings, their hasty replacement, and the concluding bit about you being ‘married’ to the owners of the rings! The deep love and attachment between you and Donal shone through in every speech made – as did your joint commitment to striving to make the world a better place for all. Our thoughts are with you as you continue in your admirable projects to see that justice is done for all the people you have cared about, and all the causes you have championed over the years.
The party afterwards was indeed ‘a mighty event’! We loved the music and the singing, the story telling and the poetry – and we were so impressed by your fiddle playing, Tricia! When the musicians finally packed up we danced to Kevin Barry’s songs until about four in the morning – and then we spent another hour in the Residents’ bar!
I really don’t know how you managed to organise such a wonderful wedding in just a few short weeks! I know your families and friends in Ireland helped a lot, but even so! It was clear that Ita, Jacqui, Richard and Peggy, Bridget, Donal’s sister Peggy, and many others had done a wonderful job of organising the mass booklets, the beautiful flowers, the cake, last-minute alterations to your beautiful dress, etc; Angie and Bertrand did a great job getting the wine; and the management and staff at the Devon Inn Hotel were amazing!
Finally, we were amazed by Donal’s strength and energy on the day – and on the Sunday morning! The poem he wrote for you is beautiful, Tricia, and so true. You did look radiant! You both did! The day was indeed ‘golden’ and full of joy.
The only trouble with writing such a detailed account as this is that I’m bound to have forgotten to mention something or someone. No doubt I’ll be following it up with several postscripts!
On our return journey we spent an hour in Killarney and an hour in Cork. We’d never been to either before. We loved Killarney! What a pretty little town! Cork was pleasant, but didn’t grab us with any great yearning to return - whereas Killarney certainly did! Cork seemed a city much like any other – although the river added an attractive dimension, and reminded us a bit of Dublin.

Here's the poem that Donal wrote, which is mentioned above:

My woman of gold
(for my wife, Patricia )
by Donal O'Siodhachain

Oh! love of my love, how graceful you looked
When I saw you there in your new wedding gown,
Oh! soul mate and dearest, you were beauty to view
From silvered shoe toe to your golden hair crown.
Mother, grandmother, long years now behind
Yet in that moment when you first came to view
Outshining all there, none could compare
No sharing the limelight, there was only you.

Oh! love of my love, when I first saw you there
In the light wheaten gold of your wedding dress,
In my mind not a matron of Old Greece or Rome
But a woman like Grainne, a true Gaelic princess.
We have had our sorrows and we've had our tears
For life must have grief, we but pass on our way,
But now all forgotten, in quick hearts full of joy,
My fine woman of gold, may gold be our day.

I hope you'll all join me in wishing Donal and Trish the very best of joy and happiness in their lives together.