Posts Tagged ‘War of Independence’

Revolution: A Photographic history of Revolutionary Ireland, 1913-1923

9 November 2011

Contributed by Orla Fitzpatrick

This new book covers a period that is particularly fascinating, albeit somewhat confusing, for photographic historians.  The Irish revolutionary period offers a rich photographic archive.  Portraits range from official mugshots held in government archives to family portraits commissioned from commercial photographic studios. Snapshots taken by onlookers and documentary images captured by press photographers offer powerful depictions of armed combat and its aftermath. All of these could be and were manipulated and circulated for the purpose of propaganda or indeed suppressed or hidden by the various sides. The chaos which prevailed at certain times during the period scattered photographs far and wide and has left a bewildering array of personal and private collections which both excite and perplex the researcher and historian of the period.

The matter of provenance can be challenging for such a disparate group of photographs. Prints can be held simultaneously by multiple institutions and individuals. Generally speaking, the holder of the negative, if it exists, takes primacy over the print owner although many have been lost over the years. The further you move away from the original source negative the poorer the image quality becomes, so that second, third and even later generation prints can lose definition and clarity. For these reasons, when conducting photographic research, I tend to use photographs where the negatives or original prints are held by public institutions.  The assignation of a verifiable number to each image and clear provenance and copyright for the collection make them more accessible and usable than those held by private companies and individuals.

Revolution: a photographic history of revolutionary Ireland, 1913-1923 covers the period leading up to the Easter Rising of 1916; the War of Independence and the Civil War and its aftermath. Read More

Review: Black and Tans at the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery

24 March 2010

Contributed by Frank Bouchier Hayes

As a child, I spent quite a lot of time playing toy soldiers where the Germans were always victorious over the British and Americans because their uniforms were so attractive to my juvenile imagination. Such childhood play forms the basis for a collection of paintings by Mick O’Dea currently on display at the Kevin Kavanagh Gallery in Dublin. O’Dea’s work is derived from photographs of combatants and politicians taken during the Irish War of Independence and attempts to understand the conflict from the British perspective. Those wishing to preview the exhibition can access a few images from the gallery website, or pick up a copy of the latest issue of the Irish Arts Review. Catherine Morris contributes a contextual essay available at the gallery to the intriguing collection of 26 portraits entitled ’Black & Tan’ which greatly assists one’s enjoyment and appreciation of the fruits of O’Dea’s research.

I would however take slight issue with a comment she makes about the men wearing “their guns in a way that anticipates John Wayne in the cowboy movies”. Read more

How Macroom Remembers

17 June 2009

By Kevin O’Sullivan

‘Two men from Macroom died and went up to heaven and met Peter and they said to Peter, “Who’s in charge here? Because we’ll be agin’ him.”‘

MacroomIRABecause it’s too long to wait until our July recommendations and because it’s still fresh in my ears from the commute, I have to point you in the direction of the Peter Woods-produced ‘How Macroom Remembers’, part of RTÉ Radio 1’s ‘Documentary on One’ series. Woods’s piece tells a fascinating tale of how a Cork town has dealt with, assimilated and adapted its memory of the Kilmichael ambush and everything that has passed under its bridges since. When you hear radio like this, it’s a reminder that the written word sometimes just isn’t enough in expressing and exploring the subtleties and, more importantly, the human voice, of our history. In these days of media exaggeration, it’s all too easy to bandy about the superlatives ‘moving’ and ‘evocative’, but the subtle way this documentary is put together – juxtaposing the crisis about Irish pork, current when the show was recorded in 2008, with the still extant bitterness of the Civil War and reveling in the human simplicity of conversation, including at one stage being interrupted with the words ‘Sorry to interrupt now. Would ye adjourn for a cup of tea?’ – makes it a joy to the ears.

Hat tip by the way to the excellent Speechification site for pointing me in the direction of ‘How Macroom Remembers’. Listen to the documentary below and to find other episodes in the series, check the iTunes store (search for ‘documentary on one’) or the programme’s RSS feed.