Witness to War at the National Photographic Archives

Contributed by Ciarán Wallace

An interesting new exhibition of images from the Black & Tan and Civil Wars has opened at the National Photographic Archive in Dublin’s Temple Bar.  Alongside some familiar shots of Irish politicians and British military figures are many less well known images; the streets of Dublin and Cork during the War of Independence, domestic scenes of Arthur Griffith with his children and National Army troops embarking on the coastal voyage to capture Cork city.  The poster image for the exhibition is among a number of photographs showing locals salvaging firewood and scrap from barracks destroyed by retreating Republican forces.  Indeed the sight of individual civilians and crowds helps to emphasise the local and intimate nature of events in the revolutionary period.  The caption cards carry original text by Rev. Denis Wilson, a chaplain to the National Army, describing the works of Dublin photographer W.D. Hogan.  While the information sheet explains Wilson’s strongly pro-Irish and pro-Treaty sentiment, this is not made clear on the captions themselves, with result that the National Photographic Archive appears to hold these somewhat biased opinions.  Simple quotation marks around descriptions of England’s minions at leisure, the innocent pastimes of the Irish or enthusiastic crowd welcoming National Army troops into Cork might resolve the confusion.  The excellent reproduction quality, and the large format of the prints, makes this engaging exhibition well worth a visit.

Witness to War runs from January to mid-May 1010, entrance is free. Opening hours:  Mon – Fri: 10am to 5pm Sat: 10am to 2pm.

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3 Responses to “Witness to War at the National Photographic Archives”

  1. Frank Says:

    This exhibition is indeed worth a visit. Looking through the photographs I was struck by the possibility that more may still be out there as certain newspapers offered readers the possibility of obtaining high quality prints of photos that were featured on any given day. Interestingly, the upstairs section of the exhibition includes several large reproductions of newspages, one of which features a photo which also forms part of the downstairs display. There are also a few caption errors which I noticed but happily I was informed that these are currently being rectified.

  2. Alan Menchious Says:

    I thought this was a very disappointing exhibition.
    The photographs are badly reproduced (mostly due to very low contrast), and the new captions (as well as the old ones) are badly written, have spelling mistakes and contain factual errors. The leaflets and newspapers on display are all facsimiles, not originals.
    A shoddy exhibition all too typical of the NPA, I’m afraid.

  3. Pue’s Recommendations for May « Pue's Occurrences Says:

    […] Marie Griffith The fantastic ‘Witness to War’ exhibition at the National Photographic Archive finishes this month. It is well worth a look. I was […]

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