Gallery of Photography Ireland wishes to thank the many organisations, archives and individuals who have supported the development of this Timeline: The Heritage Council; National Library of Ireland; National Museum of Ireland; National Archives; Arts Council; Dublin Castle; Office of Public Works; RTÉ Archives; RTÉ Supporting the Arts; TCD; UCD School of History; Museums Northern Ireland; Public Records Office of Northern Ireland; and the contributors to the Photo Album of the Irish project.

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  • World’s first permanent photographic image created by Joseph Nicephore Niépce

    Born to a prominent family in the Burgundy region of France, Joseph Nicephore Niépce (1764 – 1833) was motivated by the growing popular demand for affordable pictures. From the 1800s, he explored lithography – a printing method in which images drawn on stone can be reproduced using oil-based ink. Searching for other ways to produce images, he produced legible but fleeting camera pictures—or points de vue, as he called them—in 1816. Over the next decade he tried an array of chemicals, materials, and techniques to advance the process he ultimately called héliographie, or ‘sun writing’. The earliest surviving example of his work shows the view outside his studio window in eastern France. The scene was cast on a treated pewter plate that, after many hours, retained a crude copy of the buildings and rooftops outside. The result was the first known permanent photograph.

    Niépce’s achievement laid the groundwork for the development of photography. Later, he worked with Louis Daguerre, whose sharper daguerreotype images marked photography’s next major advancement.

    Explore this image further here

    Image: Untitled ‘point de vue,’ 1827. Heliograph on pewter, 16.7 x 20.3 x .15 cm. taken at Saint-Loup-de-Varennes (Le Gras), France.

    Courtesy Harry Ransom Center, Austin, Texas


  • Daguerre made the first photograph that includes people

    Boulevard du Temple, eight o’clock in the morning.

  • Sir John Herschel makes the first photograph on glass

    Dated 9 September 1839, this is the earliest photograph on glass. It shows the 40-foot telescope built by the photographer’s father, Sir William Herschel in Slough outside London.

    Sir John Herschel (1792 –1871) was a polymath: mathematician, astronomer, chemist, botanist and experimental photographer. As well as inventing the cyanotype, or blueprint, it was he who coined the terms ‘photography’, ‘negative’, ‘positive’ and ‘snapshot’.

    Image courtesy Science Museum, London

  • Oíche na Gaoithe Móire / The Night of the Big Wind

    One of the worst storms in Irish history took place on January 6, 1839. The Night of the Big Wind became part of Irish folk tradition. For generations to follow, the ability to recall the event was a marker of one’s age. Like the introduction of photography announced the next day in Paris, it became a definite reference point in the flow of history.

  • Louis Daguerre announced his invention of the first viable photographic process

    On January 7, 1839, members of the French Académie des Sciences were shown products of an invention that would forever change the nature of visual representation: photography. The astonishingly precise pictures they saw were the work of Louis-Jacques-Mandé Daguerre (1787–1851), a Romantic painter and printmaker most famous until then as the proprietor of the Diorama, a popular Parisian spectacle featuring theatrical painting and lighting effects. Each daguerreotype (as Daguerre dubbed his invention) was a one-of-a-kind image on a highly polished, silver-plated sheet of copper.

    By 1838 Daguerre’s continued experiments had progressed to the point where he felt comfortable showing examples of the new medium to selected artists and scientists in the hope of lining up investors. François Arago, a noted astronomer and member of the French legislature, was among the new art’s most enthusiastic admirers. He became Daguerre’s champion in both the Académie des Sciences and the Chambre des Députés, securing the inventor a lifetime pension in exchange for the rights to his process. Only on August 19, 1839, was the revolutionary process explained, step by step, before a joint session of the Académie des Sciences and the Académie des Beaux-Arts, with an eager crowd of spectators spilling over into the courtyard outside.

    The process revealed on that day seemed magical. Each daguerreotype is a remarkably detailed, one-of-a-kind photographic image on a highly polished, silver-plated sheet of copper, sensitized with iodine vapors, exposed in a large box camera, developed in mercury fumes, and stabilized (or fixed) with salt water or “hypo” (sodium thiosulfate). Although Daguerre was required to reveal, demonstrate, and publish detailed instructions for the process, he wisely retained the patent on the equipment necessary to practice the new art.

    From the moment of its birth, photography had a dual character—as a medium of artistic expression and as a powerful scientific tool—and Daguerre promoted his invention on both fronts. Several of his earliest plates were still-life compositions of plaster casts after antique sculpture—an ideal subject since the white casts reflected light well, were immobile during long exposures, and lent, by association, the aura of “art” to pictures made by mechanical means. But he also photographed an arrangement of shells and fossils with the same deliberation, and used the medium for other scientific purposes as well. The journalist Hippolyte Gaucheraud, in a scoop that appeared the day before daguerreotypes were first shown to the Académie des Sciences, wrote of having been shown the image of a dead spider photographed through a solar microscope: “You could study its anatomy with or without a magnifying glass, as in nature; [there is] not a filament, not a duct, as tenuous as might be, that you cannot follow and examine.” Even Arago, director of the Observatoire de Paris, was reportedly surprised by a daguerreian image of the moon.

    Neither Daguerre’s microscopic nor his telescopic daguerreotypes survive, for on March 8, 1839, the Diorama—and with it Daguerre’s laboratory—burned to the ground, destroying the inventor’s written records and the bulk of his early experimental works. In fact, fewer than twenty-five securely attributed photographs by Daguerre survive—a mere handful of still lifes, Parisian views, and portraits from the dawn of photography.
    – Malcolm Daniel


  • Fox Talbot announced the first positive/negative process within weeks of Daguerre.

    William Henry Fox Talbot (1800 – 1877) was an English MP, scientist, inventor and amateur artist now best remembered as the father of the negative-positive process that is the basis of modern analogue photography. While on honeymoon in Italy in 1833 he was dissatisfied with his ability to sketch the landscapes. On his return, he experimented with ways to capture and retain the images cast in a camera obscura. On hearing the unexpected news of the invention of the daguerreotype, Talbot scrambled to make a public claim and within weeks had presented details to the Royal Society in London showing several paper photographs he had made in 1835.

    At the time of Talbot’s announcement, his ‘art of photogenic drawing’ was better suited for recording the shadows of plant specimens or inanimate objects by direct contact – now known as photograms – than for camera images of people or scenes.

    The Calotype process

    This process uses a paper negative to make a print with a softer, less sharp image than the daguerreotype, but because a negative is produced, it is possible to make multiple copies. In this technique, a sheet of paper coated with silver chloride was exposed to light in a camera obscura; those areas hit by light became dark in tone, yielding a negative image.

    The revolutionary aspect of the process lay in Talbot’s discovery of a chemical (gallic acid) that could be used to ‘develop’ the image on the paper—i.e., accelerate the silver chloride chemical reaction to the light it had been exposed to. The developing process permitted much shorter exposure times in the camera, down from one hour to one minute.

    Talbot patented his process in 1841, which meant it was never taken up widely in the commercial sphere where the Daguerreotype was the preferred method. Instead, the calotype was adopted by amateurs, artists and scientists. This patent, and challenges to its perceived infringement by Frederick Scott Archer’s wet collodion process, have, perhaps unjustly, tarnished Talbot’s reputation. Lord Rosse, then President of the Royal Society, was to the fore in persuading him to relinquish the patent. In any case, the process was superseded in the mid 1850s by the wet collodion process.

    Talbot’s achievements in photo-engraving have tended to be neglected, but they are of enormous significance in the development of mass circulation photography.
    In 1852 he patented his ‘photographic engraving’ process, which produced an intaglio plate that could be printed by conventional methods—the final rendering of the photographic image was in stable printer’s ink. By 1858 he had evolved a much improved process which he called ‘photoglyphic engraving’ and a second patent was granted. These were direct ancestors of the modern photogravure process, and while they did not succeed commercially within his lifetime, Talbot was on absolutely the right track in this pursuit. He continued to perfect these processes until the end of his life, finally spending more time on photomechanical printing than he ever had on photography. The 1862 International Exhibition in London awarded him a prize medal for photoglyphic engraving.

    Talbot was in direct communication with many of the leading Irish photographic pioneers including Lord Rosse and Mary Parsons, Countess of Rosse, William Holland Furlong, the King Tenisons and Francis Stewart Beatty.

  • Francis Stewart Beatty made the first daguerreotype in Ireland – a view of a Lagan bridge

    Francis Stewart Beatty (1807- 1891) a Belfast engraver was the first person to make a daguerreotype in Ireland. Although this photograph no longer exists, on 20 September 1839 the editor of the Belfast Newsletter noted receipt of a daguerrotype and published Beatty’s letter which explained the process. This is the earliest reference to a photograph made in Ireland. It was made just seven months after news of Daguerre and Fox Talbot’s inventions had been announced in the Belfast newspapers, and within a week of Daguerre’s manual being published in English.

    On 4 August 1840, The Newsletter reported that, “Mr. F. S. Beatty has produced another photogenic drawing of the now fast fading Long Bridge of Belfast, taken from the western bank of the river. It is a beautiful specimen of the art which Mr. Beatty is pursuing so successfully and shows a progress towards perfection, which talent, taste and close application alone could not achieve”.

    Beatty ground and polished ‘a concave mirror of short focus in speculum metal’, which reduced exposure time and thereby enabled him to produce his first portrait in 1841. On foot of this it appears he came to the attention of Beard and took up a position in Beard’s Regent Street studio in October. Beard offered him the job of operative manager of a Daguerreotype Portrait Gallery he was proposing to establish in Dublin. Beard offered to pay Beatty a percentage of the work done, but the terms were unacceptable. Beatty realised that Beard’s control of patent did not extend to Ireland and that he was free to set up a portrait studio on his account.

    In August 1842 Francis Beatty sold his engraving business and two months later, together with a partner, opened a daguerreotype portrait gallery in Castle Street, Belfast. But the market couldn’t sustain it, and the venture floundered. In the late 1850s he moved to Dublin and worked at 16 College Green as a photographer, engraver and photo-lithographer. His work was highly regarded by Fox Talbot and other distinguished pioneers. Though highly skilled and innovative he never achieved financial success and he died in a Dublin workhouse in 1891.

  • “From today, painting is dead” – Paul Delaroche

    An often cited quotation attributed to the influential painter and teacher, Paul Delaroche, on first seeing a daguerreotype. It is less often noted that Delaroche himself continued to paint until his death in 1856. Echoes of this view are to be found in Gustave Flaubert’s satirical work Dictionary of Accepted Ideas, where the writer lampoons the platitudes and stupidities circulating in France during the 1870s.

  • Oldest surviving photo made by a woman

    Known as the ‘Quillan Leaf’ this photogram is now understood to have been created by the English artist Sarah Anne Bright (1793–1866), and not Henry Fox Talbot, or indeed Thomas Wedgewood, as had been thought.

    The detective work that went into the attribution is explored here

  • Richard Beard opened Britain’s first commercial photographic portrait studio

    Less than two years after the introduction of the daguerreotype process in France, Richard Beard (1801 – 1885), a coal merchant and entrepreneur, had purchased the licence to use the daguerreotype process and opened his first photographic studio. It was set up in London’s Royal Polytechnic Institution on Regent Street, in a glasshouse on the roof, in order to provide maximum all-round lighting required for adequate daguerreotype exposures.
    Beard was the owner of this and other studios, but was not himself the photographer. Among the ‘operators’ to work at his studios was the Belfast engraver Francis Stewart Beatty who worked there for less than a year from October 1841.
    There were huge profits from Beard’s studios in London and Liverpool and from the sale of licences to take daguerreotypes, but Beard was ruined by his many legal actions against rivals, and went bankrupt in 1850.

    The cartoon of Beard’s Polytechnic Studio is by George Cruikshank, published in George Cruikshank’s Omnibus (London: Tilt and Bogue, 1842)

  • Is this Ireland’s first selfie?

    Self-portrait of Henry Craigie Brewster (1816 – 1905)

    Henry Craigie Brewster was the youngest son of Sir David Brewster, the Scottish scientist, polymath, inventor of the kaleidoscope, and friend and regular correspondent of Henry Fox Talbot. Henry Craigie was therefore part of the lively photographic circle associated with his father and St Andrews University, which was one of the main centres for activity and experimentation in the calotype process.

    Henry Craigie Brewster was a Captain with the 76th Regiment of Foot, which was stationed in Ireland in the early 1840s. While on leave in St Andrews he obtained a camera from the Edinburgh optician Thomas Davidson in order to photograph his regiment while assigned to Cork in Ireland.

    His salt prints from calotype negatives – extremely faded – are the oldest extant photographs made in Ireland. They were taken between winter 1842 and May 1843, when the regiment transferred out of Cork.

    The self-portrait, extremely faded, shows the photographer with his eyes closed. This was often the practise in the very early years of calotype portraiture on account of the long exposures required.

    Brewster was later posted to Plymouth, Corfu and Cephalonia, from where he sent home pen and ink sketches rather than further photographic works. This would further support the contention that this self-portrait is indeed Ireland’s earliest surviving selfie.

    The Brewster Album
    These and other calotypes were collated into an album by Sir David Brewster and his wife Julia. Now known as ‘the Brewster Album’, this thick, leather-bound volume contains almost two hundred photographs ranging in date from 1839 to the 1850s, with the majority from the 1840s. There is an extensive series of photographs taken by Henry Fox Talbot, and Dr John Adamson, as well as smaller groups of photographs and single images by a wide variety of early practitioners including Sir John Herschel, Henry Collen, Michael Pakenham Edgeworth, and Brewster’s son, Henry Craigie Brewster. It would appear that the images were gifts from their makers. Some have hand-written annotations by Sir David as to who the photographer was and what or who is depicted. The complete Album is now in the collection of the J. Paul Getty Museum.

    Image courtesy J. Paul Getty Museum

  • Daguerreotype portrait of Michael Pakenham Edgeworth, younger brother of Maria Edgeworth

    Michael Pakenham Edgeworth (Irish, 1812 – 1881) is the younger half brother of the novelist Maria. He made some of the earliest extant photographs in Ireland around 1843.

    Photographer unknown. As Michael himself experimented with photography, it is possible that this is a self-portrait.

    Image courtesy NGI

  • Michael Pakenham Edgeworth photographs of Edgeworthstown, Co. Longford

    Michael Pakenham Edgeworth (Irish, 1812 – 1881) the younger half brother of the novelist Maria, made some of the earliest extant photographs in Ireland around 1843.

    He studied oriental languages and botany at University in Edinburgh before beginning his career with the East India Company in 1831. His interest in botany led to his experimental work in early photography, with his journals from 1840 detailing his efforts to control the Calotype process in illustrating specimens.

    He travelled back from India to the UK on furlough in 1842. Continuing with his photographic work in Ireland, he produced a number of calotype negatives of his home, Edgeworthstown House.

    It is known that Pakenham-Edgeworth visited the Brewsters in St Andrews in November 1843, and it is believed that the positives of his Longford images were produced there, which would date the images to early or mid-1843 – very soon after Henry Craigie Brewster’s Cork Calotypes were made.

    The prints are preserved in the Brewster Album, compiled by Sir David Brewster, now held at the Paul J. Getty Museum. This album also holds the prints of Henry Craigie Brewster, Sir David’s son.

    Images courtesy Paul J Getty Museum

  • Anna Atkins makes the first book illustrated with photographic images

    Anna Atkins (1799 – 1871) was an English botanist and photographer. She is one of the earliest recorded women photographers. She adopted John Herschel’s cyanotype process to make a series of studies of algae.

    In 1843, she self-published her photograms in the first installment of Photographs of British Algae: Cyanotype Impressions in October 1843. Although privately published, with a limited number of copies, and with handwritten text, this is considered the first book illustrated with photographic images.

  • Daguerreotype portrait of the philanthropist Vere Foster by Beard

    Vere Foster was born in Copenhagen of an Irish-born father and worked in the British Diplomatic Corps. Foster visited his family estate in County Louth, Ireland during the height of the Great Famine in 1847. When his father died in 1848, Vere Foster underwent a crisis in his life, and he dedicated himself to philanthropic work in Ireland.

    With his own capital, in 1852 he established the Irish Female Emigration Fund dedicated to supporting emigrants on the condition that they sent financial support back to their families. Foster made three voyages to the U.S. as a steerage passenger on emigrant ships. Appalled by the exploitative treatment of emigrants he lobbied successfully for an improvement in conditions. Following unfounded reports that he was selling girls into prostitution or corrupting their faith he located emigrants of whom this was alleged, arranged to have their daguerreotype portraits taken, and their personal story written down. On one occasion in Ardee, Co. Louth, it is said that he silently displayed their photographs and recent history, with letters of confirmation. In 1858 he considered it best to shut down the fund.

    Vere Foster helped to found and became the first President of the Irish National Teachers Organisation. He was responsible for the construction or upgrading of around 2000 national schools throughout the country. He devised cheap, popular but effective school books, donating the proceeds towards the cost of the construction of the Royal Victoria hospital in Belfast. Vere Foster died penniless in Belfast in 1900.

    Image courtesy NLI Duggan Collection

  • The Pencil of Nature is the first commercially published book to include photographs

    William Henry Fox Talbot’s The Pencil of Nature was described by the Metropolitan Museum of Art as “a milestone in the art of the book greater than any since Gutenberg’s invention of moveable type.

    It was published by Longman, Brown, Green & Longmans in six installments between 1844 and 1846. The book detailed Talbot’s development of the calotype photographic process and included 24 calotype prints, each one pasted in by hand, illustrating some of the possible applications of the new technology. Talbot planned a large number of installments; however, the book was not a commercial success and he was forced to terminate the project after completing only six.

  • Portrait of Rev. William Glendy – early salt paper print

    A salt print photograph of the Reverend William Glendy (1752- 1853), taken by Edwin Wilkins Field, London, 1844.
    The verso is inscribed (by an unknown person): Rev W. Glendy
    Photographed in the infancy of the art by my friend E.W. Field Solicitor of London, in the year 1844.

    William Glendy was the son of John Glendy, a Scots-Irish Presbyterian minister from Derry/Londonderry, who was a United Irishman. John was charged with seditious practices, and was forced to move to Baltimore, USA, after being forced from his pastorship of Maghera, Co. Londonderry, following the rebellion of 1798. However William did not travel to America with his family. Following the rebellion of 1798, John and some of his family had to flee to Baltimore, USA. William did not travel to America with his family.
    William Glendy graduated from the University of Glasgow in 1806, and became a Presbyterian minister, ordained as the assistant Ballycarry minister in the Synod of Ulster. Glendy considered himself an ‘arian’ Christian, and in 1829, he refused to subscribe to the newly introduced ‘confession of faith’ in the Presbyterian Church. As a result, his congregation split in two; Glendy took a large portion of his congregation and broke from the Synod to create a Non-Subscribing, Unitarian congregation.
    This portrait must have been taken while he was part of the Presbyterian Union Committee which sat in London in 1844.
    The photographer, Edwin Wilkins Field, was a lawyer and amateur artist, remembered for his pursuit of law reform. A unitarian dissenter, he played a central role in the promotion of the Dissenters’ Chapels Act of 1844. He was also instrumental in setting up the 1862 Fine Arts Copyright Act, the Slade School of Art and was involved in the organisation of the fine arts section of the 1862 International Exhibition in London.

    Image courtesy Public Records Office of Northern Ireland Ref: D1558/8/1/1

  • Only surviving photographic image of Daniel O’Connell

    This image forms part of a set of daguerreotypes of O’Connell and the so-called ‘Repeal Martyrs’, including Thomas Matthew Ray, secretary of the Repeal Association, and Charles Gavan Duffy, one of the founders of The Nation and a member of O’Connell’s Repeal Association. These striking likenesses were taken while the men were incarcerated in rooms in the Richmond Bridewell prison in Dublin in 1844.
    In his memoir, Young Ireland: a fragment of Irish history 1840-45, Charles Gavan Duffy wrote: ‘An artist’s studio and a daguerreotypist’s camera were set up within the precincts to multiply likenesses of the prisoners, and the caricaturists made more amusing ones without the trouble of a sitting.’
    It was a commercial photographer called Alexander Doussin Dubreuil (Irish, fl. 1842-1845) who had been granted access to the prison to take the daguerreotypes. He operated from a studio on the roof of the Rotunda buildings, at the top of Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street), and created these rare photographic images just five years after the new daguerreotype process was announced to the world.
    These extremely rare photographic images, each measuring approximately 5.5 x 4cm, with the sitters’ signatures inscribed underneath, are mounted and set into a gilt frame. They are now in the National Gallery of Ireland’s collection. They were purchased for £15 in 1905 from the daughter of Thomas Ray, one of the depicted men.

    Source: NGI

  • Lithograph of Daniel O’Connell, based on a daguerreotype

    As the daguerreotype process creates only one unique image, it was not easy to make multiple copies. One could take a daguerreotype of the original but this was expensive and not easy to produce in large quantities. For this, lithography or engraving was used, as in this portrait of Daniel O’Connell engraved by Johann Stadler and printed in Vienna.

    Image: NGI.10982

  • Irish Poet Thomas Moore, photographed by his neighbour Henry Fox Talbot with members of the Talbot family at Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire.

    Irish poet Thomas Moore, photographed by his neighbour Fox Talbot at Lacock Abbey, Wiltshire. The distinctive curls identify Talbot’s half sister Henrietta Horatia Fielding standing to his left. Eliza Frayland, the nursemaid at the far left, had come into the family’s employ with the birth of Charles Henry Talbot in 1842. Arranged in the front are Matilda Caroline (later Gilchrist-Clark, age 5); Ela Theresa (age 9); Rosamond Constance Talbot (age 7). The woman at the right is possibly Moore’s wife Bessy.

    Moore took an early interest in Talbot’s photogenic drawings. Talbot, in turn, took images of Moore’s hand-written poetry possibly for inclusion in facsimile in an edition of The Pencil of Nature.

  • Henry Fox Talbot set up the first photographic printing firm

    The widespread distribution of large editions of photographic prints was the promise of Talbot’s negative-positive process and its principal advantage over the contemporaneous French daguerreotype. In early 1844, in an effort to encourage the mass production of paper photographs, Talbot supported Nicolaas Henneman, his former valet, in the creation of the first photographic printing firm, situated in the town of Reading. It was there that prints for ‘The Pencil of Nature’ were produced.

    The activities of the Reading establishment are shown in this image: Talbot, operating the camera at the center, makes a portrait, while at the right Henneman photographs a sculpture of the Three Graces. Other employees copy an engraving, stand attentively with a second camera back-loaded with sensitized paper, attend the racks of glass frames in which negatives and photographic paper are sandwiched for printing in sunlight, and adjust a device likely intended to aid focusing.

    Image courtesy: Metropolitan Museum of Art

  • William Smith O’Brien and Thomas Francis Meagher under arrest

    Generally believed to be by Leone Glukman, this is one of the earliest photographs of the ‘Young Irelanders’. William Smith O’Brien (seated) and Thomas Francis Meagher are shown flanked by a soldier and a gaoler or ‘turnkey’. Photo historian Eddie Chandler has noted that the image is said to have been taken just after the two men had been sentenced to be hung, drawn and quartered, and he goes on to point out that the relaxed demeanour of the men would suggest otherwise! The death sentence was later commuted to transportation to Van Dieman’s Land (Tasmania). It is possible that it was taken in any of the many places in which the Young Irelanders were detained – Kilmainham Gaol, Richmond Bridewell or possibly Clonmel Gaol. Glukman took many photographs of the Young Ireland leaders, both during their trials and in Richmond Prison. Lithographic copies were made from these by Henry O’Neill and distributed as patriotic propaganda.

    Image courtesy: OPW

  • Frederick Scott Archer publicises the ‘Wet Collodion’ process

    Frederick Scott Archer’s Wet Plate Collodion process was the first practical photographic process to be both sharp and easily reproducible. It combined the clarity and detail of Daguerre’s unique images on silvered metal plates, with the practical convenience and reproducibility of Fox Talbot’s positive-negative calotype prints on paper. It also enabled photographers to significantly reduce exposure times.

    Scott Archer was an English sculptor and trained calotypist who was dissatisfied with how the texture and impurities in the paper negatives affected the prints. In 1848 he found that a preparation of collodion (a recently discovered sticky, viscous liquid that clings to glass) made it possible to use clear glass instead of waxed or oiled paper as the support for the camera negative. Crisp, sharp negatives could finally be made, from which any number of detailed prints on paper could be struck.

    The preparation of the collodion, ‘the pour’ onto plates and the processing of the plates after exposure in the camera needed to be carried out on the spot.

    The collodion process soon replaced the calotype in commercial use, and by the end of the decade, the daguerreotype was virtually extinct as well. From about 1855 until the early 1880s, the wet plate collodion process was the dominant form of photography.

    A gift to the world
    Scott Archer published his invention in The Chemist in March 1851, and in 1852 he published A Manual of the Collodion Photographic Process. In publishing his discovery, he did so knowingly without first patenting it, giving it as a gift to the world.

    In 1856, the Liverpool Photographic Journal commented: “Mr Archer’s disinterestedness cannot be too highly or substantially complimented… the discovery might have been worth a fortune… In every direction indeed in which we turn, we perceive alike its value and the generosity which bestowed it—free as air, for the public good”.

    Scott Archer made other contributions to the development of photography, including a neatly folding collodion camera in 1853. This was in fact a camera, a miniature darkroom and a storage box for chemistry all in one. The camera had two black velvet sleeves through which the photographer could put their hands to sensitise, develop and fix the glass plate inside. An amber window allowed the photographer to see what they were doing. Trays and bottles of chemicals were stored inside the camera. When folded for carrying, the camera was very compact – about the size of a couple of shoeboxes.

    Scott Archer took up photography professionally, opening a studio in Great Russell Street, near the British Museum; but he made no money. Plagued by poor health, he died impoverished in 1857 aged 44 leaving a wife and three children penniless. His family were awarded a government pension of £50 per annum ‘in consideration of the scientific discoveries of their father’ and members of the Photographic Society contributed £767 in recognition that he was: “… the true architect of all those princely fortunes which are being acquired by the use of his ideas and inventions”.

    Image: Portrait of Frederick Scott Archer by Robert Cade, c.1855, courtesy National Media Museum
    Excellent article on Frederick Scott Archer’s life and work – includes some of his own photographs, on the Science Museum’s blog here.
    Watch a video made for J Paul Getty Foundation which describes the technique very clearly : The Wet Collodion Process

  • The Great Exhibition at the Crystal Palace, London

    Queen Victoria and Prince Albert were active patrons of photography. Their patronage of the Great Exhibition in 1851 gave millions of visitors their first opportunity to see a photograph, some of which had been lent by the royal couple themselves. The exposition was a great success. Over the five months it was open to the public, it attracted more than six million visitors – approximately one third of the population of Britain at the time. It made a profit of some £186,000 – equivalent to tens of millions today.

    The Crystal Palace was designed by Joseph Paxton – a young man without any architectural training – and built in record time. It established an architectural standard for later international exhibitions, such as that held in Dublin two years later. As befits a photo of the largest glass building in the world, this daguerreotype by John Jabez Edwin Mayall was at the time one of the largest daguerreotypes ever made. Note the shadowy figure in the foreground who moved during the exposure. The image shows a full-size elm tree in front of a Refreshment room run by Schweppes, and a fountain made of crystal glass, with water perfumed with cologne.

    Image courtesy J. Paul Getty Museum

  • John Shaw Smith, ‘St Doulough’s Church, near Coolock, Dublin’

    One of the rare images made by John Shaw Smith in Ireland shows his interest and skill in architectural photography.
    St. Doulough’s Church is one of Ireland’s architectural enigmas. According to Peter Harbison, it “presents more puzzles per square foot than any other building of comparable size in Ireland” {Studies, Spring 1982}

  • Dublin Great Industrial Exhibition of 1853 by Edward King Tenison

    In its day, the Great Industrial Exhibition of 1853 was the largest international event to be held in Ireland. The building, located on the grounds of Leinster House, on Merrion Square was designed by John Benson, who had designed the building for the Irish Industrial Exhibition held in Cork the previous year.

    Queen Victoria accompanied by the Prince Consort and the Prince of Wales, paid an official visit on 29 August. Appropriately given the royal couple’s interest in and promotion of photography, this was the first Worlds Fair to include photographs in the fine arts section. Among the exhibits were the calotype photographs taken by Edward King Tenison, of Castle Tenison, Co. Roscommon of the villages and towns of Spain. King Tenison had developed a technique which enabled him to enlarge his pictures to a size which was suitable for public display. A summary of the photography exhibitors can be found here.

    The undertaking was entirely funded by William Dargan, entrepreneur and developer of Irish railways. However, overall attendance was lower than expected at approximately 1.15 million visitors, leaving Dargan with a financial loss of approximately £9,000.

    Photo by Edward King Tenison of the Irish Industrial Exhibition Building, courtesy National Gallery of Art, Washington DC.

  • Earliest known photographic archive of prisoners in Ireland, August 1857.

    Mountjoy Prison in Dublin was opened in 1850, and represents a key moment in Irish mid-Victorian penal reform. Its design was informed by the recently-established Pentonville Prison in London and served the increasing need for Irish prison spaces as the practice of transportation to British colonies declined. The decision to document its inmates was in step with photography’s rapid progress into a wide range of bureaucratic and state functions in the nineteenth century – though Irish prisons were not legally required to make a photographic record of inmates until the Habitual Criminals Act came into force 12 years later in 1869. While there are earlier examples of prison photography in Ireland, this archive of 1850s prisoner images represents the emergence of new approaches to using photography to document and track individuals in a more systematic way. Alphonse Bertillon’s combination of anthropometric detail with photography in his ‘mugshot’ archive system of the 1880s paved the way for much of our contemporary understanding of photography as a tool for identification. Today, this function can be seen in the facial recognition systems of modern smartphone cameras.

    Image courtesy New York Public Library

  • Ireland is home to the Grubbs, one of the world’s leading optical instrument makers

    Thomas Grubb , 1800-1878, and his son Sir Howard Grubb, 1844-1931, were Irish engineers who manufactured many optical and metal devices, particularly in the field of astronomical instruments. Thomas was a keen photographer and a founder of the Dublin Photographic Society in 1854.

    In 1858 Thomas obtained a patent for a new lens design called an Aplanatic which was designed largely for landscape work. It was sold in Ireland and other countries, often through agents. The lenses were of superb quality and were used for significant work in the 1860s by the likes of Carleton Watkins in Yosemite USA and Samuel Bourne in the Himalayas.

    After the late 1860s the Grubbs turned towards astronomical instruments, but the firm was still producing some camera lenses in a variety of designs, as late as the 1880s.

  • Stereo photograph by James Robinson of Dublin makes legal history

    The prominent Dublin photographer James Robinson set up a tableau vivant of ‘The Death of Chatterton’ a popular Pre-Raphaelite painting by Henry Wallis. Robinson made stereo photographs of his recreation. His motives were clear: the painting had drawn large numbers of paying customers when it was shown at The Royal Academy in London in 1856 and while on tour to the Art Treasures Exhibition in Manchester in 1857 and to Dublin in 1859. It was one of the best-selling pictures in reproduction during the Victorian period. Its creator Henry Wallis had sold the painting to Augustus Egg in 1856, and Egg sold the right to make engraved reproductions. In this charged commercial context, Robinson’s photographic version became the subject of a court case – the first of its kind involving photography. Robinson was taken to court for breach of copyright – and he lost.

  • The first colour photograph, as opposed to a painted black and white photo, was created by James Clerk Maxwell and Thomas Sutton

    On May 17, 1861, Scottish physicist Sir James Clerk Maxwell presented the very first colour photograph at the Royal Institution. The photograph showed a tartan ribbon and was made by Thomas Sutton according to the three-colour method proposed by Maxwell as early as 1855. The process involved photographing the ribbon three times, each time with a different colour filter (red, green, or blue-violet) over the lens. The three photographs were developed, printed on glass, then projected onto a screen with three different projectors, each equipped with the same colour filter used to photograph it. When superimposed on the screen, the three images formed a full-colour image. During his lecture, which was about physics and physiology, not photography, Maxwell commented on the inadequacy of the results and the need for a photographic material more sensitive to red and green light.

    Together with his business partner, the French photographer Louis Blanquart Evrard, Thomas Sutton ran a successful photography studio in Jersey from 1847 until it was destroyed by fire in 1854.  Sutton himself published the first photographic publication on the island, and also (with the photography lecturer George Dawson) The Dictionary of Photography as well as a manual on the calotype process that was would remain popular through ten editions.

    The same year as he made the first permanent colour photograph, he also invented the single lens reflex camera, and later developed the first panoramic camera with a wide angle lens.

    The National Science and Media Museum (UK) has an informative blog on the history of colour photography here.

  • Timothy O’Sullivan – ‘The Harvest of Death’

    Little is known about Timothy H. O’Sullivan’s personal history – he may have been born in Ireland or born to Irish parents soon after they had emigrated to New York City around 1840.

    His photograph of the rotting dead awaiting burial after the Battle of Gettysburg remains one of the best-known photographs from the American Civil War. It was published in Gardner’s Photographic Sketch Book of the War (1866), the first anthology of photographs published in the US. The Sketch Book features ten photographic plates of Gettysburg – eight by Timothy H. O’Sullivan, who served as a field operator for Alexander Gardner, and two by Gardner himself.

    The extended caption that accompanies this photograph is among Gardner’s most poetic: “It was, indeed, a ‘harvest of death.’ . . . Such a picture conveys a useful moral: It shows the blank horror and reality of war, in opposition to its pageantry. Here are the dreadful details! Let them aid in preventing such another calamity falling upon the nation“.


  • William Lawrence opened a photography studio in Sackville Street, Dublin

    William Mervyn Lawrence (1840-1932) was an entrepreneur who recognised the commercial potential of photography and opened a photography studio on Sackville Street (now O’Connell Street) in Dublin in 1865 where he employed photographers, printers, colourists, retouchers and sales personnel. Though not a photographer himself, his business thrived. As indicated by the advertisement from the 1890s, tourists were an important market. The wide range of topographical views of Ireland taken by Robert French for the firm were particularly profitable in the form of postcards and souvenirs.

    Lawrence retired in 1916 and ownership of the firm passed to his youngest son, also William. Within weeks, the Easter Rising had broken out and the Lawrence shop was among the first to be looted. The portrait negatives which were housed in the Sackville Street premises were destroyed but the glass plate negatives of outdoor views were stored in Rathmines and so survived. While continuing for another quarter of a century the business struggled in the face of competition from Kodak box brownies and closed in December 1943.

    Robert French began working in the Lawrence photographic studio in the early 1860s, and left the firm in 1914. Over his long career, he was the chief photographer responsible for photographing approximately three quarters of the National Library of Ireland’s Lawrence Collection. He specialised in outdoor views and captured images of almost every small village in Ireland.

  • Fenian Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa, photographed in Mountjoy Gaol

    Jeremiah O’Donovan Rossa was arrested in September 1865 during the suppression of the Fenian newspaper the Irish People. He was held in Mountjoy Prison until his trial in December.  He wrote about this portrait being taken in Mountjoy, describing how he was positioned in front of the camera with a pasteboard with his name printed across it pinned to his chest, and jocularly added of the photographer: “he never had the manners to tell – what artists never failed to tell me – that I made an exceedingly good picture.”

    After his conviction, O’Donovan Rossa was transferred to Pentonville Prison, and his resistance to British prison discipline over the following three years saw multiple transfers to other jails at Portland, Millbank and Chatham. His harsh treatment during his separate incarcerations was recorded by a British government inquiry and recounted in his own book Six Years in English Prisons. The narratives contributed to Irish and British prison histories, but also to the development of demands for political status for Irish nationalists – a development that continues to reverberate today.

    Image (taken 1865, collated into the 1866 ‘Larcom Collection’) is courtesy New York Public Library.

  • John Gough and Mary Gough, outside their shop on Eustace Street, Dublin

    The image is certainly taken after 1865 as the goods on sale include stereoscopic views and photographs of some of the works of art at the Dublin International Exhibition of that year.

    A wonderful image from the Collection of the Society of Friends.

  • The Dillons of Clonbrock were so keen on photography that they had a studio and darkroom constructed on the grounds, known as the “Photo House”.

    Luke Gerald Dillon, 4th Baron Clonbrock (1834 – 1917), and his family in front of the ‘Photo House’ in Clonbrock, County Galway, Ireland.

    Dillon was an Irish peer. In 1865, he was appointed High Sheriff of County Galway. He married Augusta Caroline Crofton, daughter of Edward Crofton, 2nd Baron Crofton of Mote and Lady Georgina Paget, in 1866 in Roscommon. The couple, particularly Augusta, were enthusiastic amateur photographers. They recorded activities on and near their estate throughout the second half of the 19th century. The Dillons were so keen on the medium that they had a studio and darkroom constructed on the grounds, which was referred to as the “Photo House”.

    The Clonbrock Collection contains over 2,000 glass plates and is housed in the National Library of Ireland in Dublin.

    Image: NLI CLON46

  • Thomas J. Wynne advertising his Photography Studio and Shop, Main Street, Castlebar, Co. Mayo

    Thomas Joseph Wynne (1838-1893) was an American-Irish photographer and shopkeeper. In 1867 he established a successful photographic studio in his shop on Market St. Castlebar, Co. Mayo.
    As this fascinating self-promotional image attests, Wynne was involved in photography at all levels – taking portraits and commissions, copying manuscripts, as well as selling fine art reproductions etc. He photographed scenes of urban and rural life, featuring agricultural shows, sporting events, political meetings, evictions, and pilgrims at Knock and Croagh Patrick. His images of protests during the Land War are early examples of reportage. In addition to his studio portrait work, he undertook commissions throughout Connemara. He is best known for his portraits of public figures including Capt. Charles Boycott, the 3rd earl of Lucan and Archbishop John MacHale.

    The object pictured at the bottom of this photo is a stereoscopic viewer – a popular device which was all the rage in the ‘better’ parlours during the latter half of the 19th century.

    Image courtesy NLI WYN1

  • Edweard Muybridge pioneer of high-speed photography

    Animal Locomotion : Eadweard Muybridge uses a row of cameras with trip-wires to make a high-speed photographic analysis

    Eadweard Muybridge (1830-1904) was one of the most influential photographers of his time, and is best known for photographing horses in motion – proving for the first time through high-speed photography that all four hooves leave the ground in mid-gallop. He advanced film-processing chemicals and in 1879 invented the zoopraxiscope, the precursor to cinema.

    Originally from England, he began his photography career in 1867 in San Francisco, at a time of rapid advances in transport and communication. Following the publication of Animal Locomotion, he lectured widely in Europe during 1889-91 and visited Dublin and Belfast at the invitation of the Photographic Society of Ireland and Belfast Natural History and Philosophical Society. According to the Daily Express, “The Royal Dublin Society’s Theatre was filled to its utmost capacity yesterday afternoon, when Mr Muybridge resumed his course of lectures. The demonstration is simply marvellous.” The Irish Times reported that “the lecture and admirable illustrations were loudly applauded.”

    His influence can still be felt today, from studies in anatomical motion to animation, cinema and painting.

    Above: Animated gif from frame 1 to 11 of Muybridge’s The Horse in Motion. It shows the horse ‘Sallie Gardner’, owned by Leland Stanford, running at the Palo Alto track, 19 June 1878.
    Animation courtesy Nevit Dilman, [Wikimedia Commons]

  • Anti-eviction protestors at Bodyke, County Clare

    Anti-eviction protesters with an effigy of Colonel O’Callaghan, the principal landowner at Bodyke, in Co. Clare. O’Callaghan had refused to lower rents even though his tenants were in distress. In June 1887 O’Callaghan called for police assistance in evicting the tenants, who resisted by force, witnessed by large crowds.

    An early instance of photo-reportage, this image is attributed to Henry Norman journalist for the Pall Mall Gazette. It was taken on Friday, June 3rd 1887, the day after Widow MacNamara’s eviction. The sign nailed to the effigy reads: “Praise the Lord for here the Tyrant’s arm was paralysed”. This refers to an episode some days earlier, when a sheriff, called McMahon, had turned up with a large force to effect the eviction, but had an epileptic fit and the police withdrew. The tenants saw this as divine intervention and made this effigy.

    The priest visible on the right is likely to be Fr. Murphy, who also appears in the related photo showing the widow, Margaret MacNamara’s cottage.

    Image: NLI EB_2665

  • Spectators observe the eviction of the Bermingham family from their cottage on the Vandeleur estate in Kilrush, Co. Clare.

    The bailiff’s team met with resistance from within the Bermingham family cottage on the shore of the Shannon Estuary. The house was barricaded by the occupants, using tree branches and hedges, through which the family used tin syringes to squirt hot water at the eviction team outside.
    Because spectators were prevented from coming close to the scene by soldiers and police, a number of locals used a fleet of boats to gain a vantage point from the water nearby, beyond the reach of the authorities. They were loud in their support for the family during its resistance, shouting and cheering while the tenants held out.
    We can see smoke, or steam, emanating from the gap. At this point, the family inside – Thomas Bermingham, his sister, two boys and two girls – are still armed with boiling water and projectiles, and the two emergency men nearest the house hold their shields aloft.
    In the foreground to the left is a well-dressed middle-aged couple looking on from the sidelines. These have been tentatively identified as  Major O’Shaughnessy and his wife Margaret, who were American fundraisers for the Irish National League.
    Newspaper accounts from Kilrush describe English and American sightseers travelling with officials to view the evictions taking place. 

    The photograph is usually credited to Robert French, but recent research suggests it may be the work a Limerick professional photographer, Timothy O’Connor.

    The Clare County Library has gathered interesting further reading, including an article by Ed O’Shaughnessy tracing the visit of Major O’Shaughnessy and the role of the eviction photographs as propaganda back in the USA.

    Image courtesy National Library of Ireland, L_ROY_1771

  • Patrick O’Brien’s Kodak image of two policemen ‘shadowing’ Rev David Humphreys in Tipperary during the rent strike.

    The Plan of Campaign’s combination of politics and photography came to a head in Tipperary town in 1890. During a major dispute between tenants and the landlord on the Smith-Barry estate, the construction of new streets and a market arcade for the evicted tenants became national and international news. The National League led a huge drive to publicise and fund the building project, which became known as New Tipperary.

    The Lawrence Company in Dublin dispatched a photographer to document the events, and made the images commercially available very soon afterwards. Credited to Robert French, the images featured in political slide shows and formed the basis of newspaper illustrations, which energised the narrative at home and abroad. Around the same time, Patrick O’Brien (MP for North Monaghan), one of the campaign’s national leaders and an enthusiastic amateur photographer, used his Kodak camera to document police surveillance and ‘shadowing’ of the local campaign leaders, including a local Catholic priest, the Reverend David Humphreys. O’Brien’s images were used for political ends: he made lantern slides of them, and had them projected as agit-prop spectacles onto the Houses of Parliament in London – bringing the issue directly to the centre of power.

    The images also provoked an enthusiastic response from the Kodak Company, which saw past the politics of O’Brien’s use of the camera, and instead saw their power as a high-profile advertisement for the new camera.

    Image courtesy: National Library of Ireland

  • ” I would willingly exchange every single painting of Christ for one snapshot.” – G.B. Shaw

    George Bernard Shaw began his love affair with photography in 1898 when he bought his first camera. He remained a keen amateur while also writing with his characteristic panache for the various photography magazines that sprang up around the turn of the century. In the debates that raged around ‘pictorialism’, Shaw sided with the ‘modernist’ side, arguing that photographers should not try to mimic the conventions of fine art painting but should rather explore the specific qualities of the medium.

  • “Edison’s Latest Discovery – Electric Living Pictures” “Toft’s Show at Tramore Races”

    Electricity was first introduced into Ireland in 1880 with the installation of the first public electric street lamp outside the offices of the Freeman’s Journal on Prince’s Street in Dublin. The same year the Dublin Electric Light Company was formed to provide public street lighting from three coal-fired power plants. Some twenty years on, electricity was still a novelty, as evidenced by its prominence in this advertisement for a proto-cinema attraction put on by Toft’s Show at Tramore Races.

    Image: NLI POOLEWP 0358

  • JJ Clarke photographed the fashionable street life of Dublin

    A native of Monaghan, J.J. Clarke (1879-1961) took up photography while a medical student in Dublin. Between 1897 and 1904 he produced a remarkable series of images showing fashionable streetlife in the city. Facilitated by improvements in camera technology, these informal pictures capture the dynamism of a thriving metropolis. They illustrate women’s increased visibility and independence, portraying them as active figures in the urban drama. Clarke’s images also reveal a growing awareness of the presence of the photographer, both as witness and participant.

    Two women walking past Sibley & Co. Stationers, No. 51 Grafton Street, c.1897-1904


    Clarke Photographic Collection,
    Courtesy National Library of Ireland

  • Postcard from the Ballymaclinton Irish ‘village’ at the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition in London

    Fake villages were regular attractions at fairs and exhibitions throughout Europe and North America during the late 19th and early 20th centuries. One of the most elaborate in an Irish context was staged at the 1908 Franco-British Exhibition in White City, London. Called Ballymaclinton it was erected at a cost of £30,000 by McClinton’s Soap of County Tyrone and ran for the entire six months of this major commercial fair. For the entry fee of sixpence, visitors could explore several dozen full-sized ‘Irish’ buildings – variations on the thatched cottage with examples of cottage industry performed inside – as well as replicas of Blarney Castle, complete with Blarney Stone, the St. Laurence Gate in Drogheda, an art gallery, a round rower, a Celtic cross and a reconstruction of the ancestral cottage of former United States president William McKinley. The village was populated by ‘colleens’ – some 250 women lived and worked there – and a fully operative Post Office sold souvenir postcards extolling the complexion-whitening power of McClinton’s soap.

    Further reading:
    Stephanie Rains, “The Ideal Home (Rule) Exhibition”, Field Day Review 7, 2011
    Shamina Ahktar “The Irish Village of Ballymaclinton”

  • The Marconi Room, on board the Titanic

    Born in Cork in 1880, Francis Browne entered the Society of Jesus novitiate at the age of 17. While teaching in Belvedere College in Dublin, he received a present from his uncle, Robert Browne, Bishop of Cloyne: a ticket for the maiden voyage of RMS Titanic from Southampton, England, to Queenstown [Cobh], Ireland, via Cherbourg, France. He travelled to Southampton and boarded the Titanic on the afternoon of 10 April 1912. He took dozens of photographs of life aboard Titanic on that day and the next morning; he shot pictures of the gymnasium, the Marconi room, the first-class dining saloon, his own cabin, and of passengers enjoying walks on the Promenade and Boat decks. He captured the last known images of many crew and passengers, including captain Edward J. Smith, gymnasium manager T. W. McCawley, engineer William Parr, and numerous third-class passengers whose names are unknown.

    During his voyage on the Titanic, Browne was befriended by an American millionaire couple who were seated at his table in the liner’s first-class dining saloon. They offered to pay his way to New York and back in return for Browne spending the voyage to New York in their company. Browne telegraphed his superior, requesting permission, but the reply was an unambiguous “GET OFF THAT SHIP – PROVINCIAL”

    Browne left the Titanic when she docked in Queenstown and returned to Dublin to continue his theological studies. When the news of the ship’s sinking reached him, he realised that his photos would be of great interest, and he negotiated their sale to various newspapers and news cartels. They appeared in publications around the world. Browne retained the negatives. The Eastman Kodak company subsequently gave him free film for life and Browne often contributed to The Kodak Magazine. Because of the cost, many of his negatives were never printed.

    Father Browne’s collection of negatives was discovered by chance in a tin trunk by Fr O’Donnell SJ in 1986. He is now considered to be one of Ireland’s finest photographers of the 20th century.

    Image courtesy Davison & Associates © Irish Jesuit Archives

  • Molly Childers steered the Asgard in the Howth gun-running incident.

    The Howth gun-running, July 1914. Molly Childers at the wheel of the Asgard, steering the yacht that brought some 1500 Mauser rifles into Howth in support of the efforts of the Irish Volunteers at the outbreak of war. Molly wore a red jacket as a signal for those meeting the yacht that everything was going to plan.

    Image © Childers Family Collection / Photo Album of the Irish

  • Uniformed Irish Volunteers at Coosan Training Camp, Athlone, Summer 1914.

    Group photograph of uniformed Irish Volunteers at Coosan Training Camp, Athlone, Summer 1914.

    Image: courtesy National Museum of Ireland HE:EW.2732

  • Studio portrait of Countess Constance Markievicz

    Studio portrait of Countess Constance Markievicz (née Gore-Booth) in uniform with a gun.

    Courtesy: NLI KE 82

  • Women of 1916 group photograph

    Women who took part in the Easter Rising 1916 photographed in Dublin in 1917.

    Image: NMI HE:1995.37

  • Fake news – ‘The Battle of Tralee’

    In an intensifying propaganda war, the British Army press officers at Dublin Castle contrived what they called the ‘Battle of Tralee’. An early example of photographic ‘fake news’ his was completely staged for newsreel film crews and photographers. Auxiliaries, some dressed as civilians played the role of ‘Sinn Feiners’ in a mock encounter that was loosely based on a real incident that had happened in Ballymacelligott, near Tralee on 12 November 1920. The propagandistic fake battle was held much more conveniently on the Vico Road in the south Dublin suburb of Killiney. Pathé news covered the event, and newsreel footage and photographs were widely published in the British press.
    In the London Illustrated News, the photograph is credited to the Topical Agency. It is likely the work of John Warwick Brooke, one of the British Army’s official war photographers who is known to have been associated with Topical at the time.

    Further reading: a lively article on this subject by Michael Barry

  • Start of a reprisal burning at Meelin, Co. Cork

    Scene of a reprisal burning at Meelin, Co. Cork, 14th January 1921. The Brown Family farm cottage was destroyed in an official British reprisal. This photograph was taken at the moment the official reprisal began, and shows the men of the village being rounded up and guarded by British soldiers, while other soldiers were blowing up a nearby farm.
    Photograph by W.D. Hogan of 56 Henry Street, Dublin.
    Courtesy National Museum of Ireland, HE:EW.2078

  • Mrs Bridget Whelan on a vigil outside Mountjoy Prison, Dublin

    Mrs Bridget Whelan, the mother of 19-year-old Thomas Whelan, with a crowd of supporters outside Mountjoy Prison, Dublin, on the day before Thomas was executed. Maud Gonne McBride stands to her left side. 13th March 1921

    W.D Hogan Collection, HE:EW.2038
    Courtesy National Museum of Ireland

  • Jubilant crowd of Irish Free State soldiers and civilians, c.1923

    Image courtesy Desmond FitzGerald Collection, UCD Archives

  • Carl von Sydow photographs rural Ireland

    In 1920, the Swedish folklorist Carl von Sydow visited Ireland for the first time. He spent the summer in Kerry and Cork perfecting his spoken Irish, which he had already learned in Sweden. In 1924 he returned to the Blaskets and to the Aran Islands, and took some celebrated photographs of the islanders.
    Here, a camera shy young girl stays close to an older woman, possibly her grandmother, on Inis Meain, Aran Islands.

    National Folkore Collection, UCD M003.0100383

  • Quinn family, Waterford celebrating the Eucharistic Congress, 1932

    Although the major gatherings for the Eucharistic Congress took place in the capital, communities around the country also found inventive ways to celebrate.

    Image: NLI POOLEWP3922

  • National Folklore Collection is underway

    On a visit to Germany in 1936, Séamus Ó Duilearga, the head of the newly-created Irish Folklore Commission, bought a Rolleiflex camera for the Commission. Although the aim of the Commission was to document traditional folk culture in Ireland, the methods it used were strikingly modern. Its collectors used portable Ediphone sound recorders as well as cameras. Even as a camera, the Rolleiflex was up to date, having been first sold in 1929. Between the 1930s and the 1970s, the Commission accumulated an archive of nearly 13,000 images, mostly relating to the west and south-west of Ireland. This wonderful resource can be explored at

    Photo by Domhnall Ó Cearbhaill shows an informant speaking into an Ediphone recorder, Poullaphuca, County Wicklow, 1939. The timing would suggest the collecting was part of the recording of local folklore prior to the flooding of the area for the creation of the reservoir and hydroelectric dam. Image ref: M002.10.00007 courtesy Dúchas © National Folklore Collection, UCD

  • Belfast Blitz

    “Land of Hope and Glory” York Road, Belfast

    Photograph from a report compiled by the Ministry of Public Security on the air raids on Belfast and their aftermath.
    Ministry of Public Security, records of the Cabinet Secretariat

    Courtesy: Public Records Office of Northern Ireland

  • Mushroom cloud over Nagasaki, 9 August 1945

    A dense column of smoke rises more than 60,000 feet into the air over the Japanese port of Nagasaki, the result of an atomic bomb, dropped from a U.S. B-29 Superfortress on August 9, 1945.
    Twenty-six-year-old lieutenant Charles Levy captured the photograph with his personal camera while aboard the B-29 aircraft The Great Artiste, an observation plane that flew near the strike plane Bockscar to record the power of the blast.
    The explosion came just days after the detonation of the world’s first deployed atomic bomb, codenamed “Little Boy,” which was dropped by the U.S. on Hiroshima, killing an estimated 140,000 people. Three days later, this second atomic bomb (“Fat Man”) immediately claimed the lives of nearly 80,000 people in Nagasaki.
    Photographs that pictured the bomb’s devastation on the ground were censored by U.S. officials, but Levy’s image of the explosion circled the globe. It was the only image to emerge that would show the massive cloud in its entirety; it didn’t show carnage back on earth, or capture the unbelievable loss of human life.

    Image courtesy US National Archives & Records Administration

  • Henri Cartier-Bresson comes to Ireland

    Acclaimed Magnum photographer Henri Cartier Bresson comes to Ireland on assignment for Harper’s Bazaar magazine.

  • Macroom Photographic Services opens in the back of Dinneen’s bar.

    Dineen’s Bar, Macroom, Co. Cork
    For three decades, Dennis Dinneen provided photos for passports and driving licences, took individual and family portraits, and captured images of the bar’s patrons. Developing his skills as a photographer outside the studio, he also photographed weddings, religious ceremonies, theatre productions, sporting events, and a variety of other local occasions. Over his career as a photographer, Dennis exposed an estimated 50,000 negatives, of which around 30,000 were destroyed, along with prints and equipment, when a fire ripped through the bar in 1981. The remnants of the studio’s darkroom are present to this day, though barely recognisable, in the upstairs loft at the back.
    More than just a photographer, Dennis was a publican and local taximan; he would be your wedding photographer and the chauffeur that drove you from your home to the church. He was the unassuming, subtle life and soul of every party he went to. He was a talented singer and storyteller, with many stories to tell and many songs to sing, whose resounding voice captivated his listeners. Dennis passed away in 1985, leaving the bar to his sons, Lawrence and Dennis. Along with their families, they still run the bar on Main Street in Macroom, where it continues to serve as a focal point for the local community.
    – Ciara Dinneen

  • President John F. Kennedy visits Ireland, June 1963

    John F. Kennedy became the first serving American president to visit Ireland. From his motorcade though Dublin to his departure from Shannon airport just four days later, he was greeted by huge crowds wherever he went. As a descendant of Famine immigrants, Kennedy’s visit was a landmark moment in the history of Irish-American relations, further cementing the relationship between the two countries.

    He is reported to have said that those four days were the best in his life. Just five months later he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas, changing the course of history.

    Images courtesy: John F. Kennedy Presidential Library & Museum, Boston

  • President Kennedy takes tea at the Kennedy ancestral farm in Dunganstown, Co. Wexford.

    Image courtesy: JFK Presidential Library & Museum, Boston

  • Fergus Bourke, acclaimed documentary photographer begins working in Dublin

    Fergus Bourke (1934-2004) has long been regarded as one of Ireland’s foremost and finest photographers. His body of work spans a variety of genres from an extensive career. He was renowned as a photographer of Dublin street scenes in the 1960s, depicting the now vanished world of tenements and children’s games, each one quietly observed and captured with warmth, compassion and humour. His pioneering photojournalism documented the depths of Irish poverty in the 1970s. A remarkable portraitist, his Kindred series captured prominent Irish figures throughout the 1980s, work that was complemented by his extensive documentation of all major productions in the Abbey Theatre between 1970 and 1995.

    In 1980 Bourke was admitted as an artist to Aosdána, an association of people in Ireland who have achieved distinction in the arts; he was the first photographer to be so acknowledged. He held a major retrospective at the Gallery of Photography in 2003 during which the film maker Art O’Briain shot a moving documentary about his work, Fergus Bourke – In His Own Words. Bourke was diagnosed with a terminal illness and passed away before the film was premiered.

  • Evelyn Hofer made her series which was published in ‘Dublin: A Portrait’ with an essay by V.S. Pritchett

    German-American artist Evelyn Hofer (1922-2009) is one of the foremost female photographers in recent history, and her works still captivate us today with their intensity and clarity of form. Over five decades she pursued her métier as a kind of artistic sociological research, and covered a wide spectrum of subjects and genres, from city views and portraits of artists to architecture, interiors, landscapes and still lives.

    Her work is also inextricably bound up with the books she illustrated in the late 1950s and 1960s for acclaimed authors such as Mary McCarthy and V.S. Pritchett. The latter’s in-depth essay is featured in Dublin: A Portrait, which enjoyed great popularity when first published in 1967. This work was shown for the first time in Ireland in “Dublin & Other Portraits” at the Gallery of Photography in 2012, to huge popular and critical acclaim.

    Image: Girl on a Bicycle, The Liberties, Dublin, 1966.

  • Jim Fitzpatrick creates the iconic portrait of Che Guevara, based on a 1960 photo by Korda

    Irish artist Jim Fitzpatrick is best known for elaborate work inspired by the Irish Celtic artistic tradition. But his most famous single piece is his iconic two-tone portrait of Che Guevara created in 1968, based on a photograph by Alberto Korda.

    The black and red screen-printed poster version was produced after Guevara’s death in October 1967. It was based on a high-quality image of Korda’s photo obtained from an Amsterdam magazine, which in turn got it from a print Korda had presented to Jean-Paul Sartre.

    Fitzpatrick’s poster alters the original Korda print in subtle ways: the eyes have a slightly more upward and ‘saintly’ gaze, and Guevara is given longer hair as it was a symbol of rebellion at the time.

    Originally a fashion photographer, Korda was, in effect, official photographer of the Cuban revolution. He never accepted any royalties for the original photograph, although he was sensitive about its inappropriate commercialisation. While Fitzpatrick regards his poster as a standalone graphic for which he holds the copyright, he too has never claimed royalties for its use (or abuse). 

  • Publication of ‘An Muircheartach’ by Tomás Ó Muircheartaigh (1907-1967)

    This book of 320 black-and-white photographs taken between between the 1940s and the 1960s by Tomás Ó Muircheartaigh (1907-1967) documents rural life in Ireland, particularly in the Gaeltacht, the Irish-speaking districts. Ó Muircheartaigh was born in Dublin and worked for most of his life in the Department of Education. He was a friend and protégé of Daniel Corkery, who dedicated two books to him. A prominent figure in the Gaelic League, he served as President between 1955 and 1959. His photographs were published regularly, often as cover images, by the monthly magazine Feasta, for which Ó Muircheartaigh also wrote editorials and other pieces.

    Images courtesy

  • Bloody Sunday – January 30, 1972

    Iconic moments in history: Stanley Matchett captures an image of Bishop Edward Daly carrying a blood-stained handkerchief ahead of the body of Jack Duddy, who was shot dead in Derry on Bloody Sunday.

    The stories behind this and other images from the period are explored in Tom Burke’s acclaimed documentary ‘Shooting the Darkness’. A book of the same name has also been published by Blackstaff Press (2019).

    Image © Stanley Matchett

  • The Blue Marble

    This photograph was taken by Harrison Schmidt during the Apollo 17 Mission on December 7th 1972. It remains one of the most widely circulated photographs of all time. It has been credited with contributing to an increased interest in environmentalism and Green politics during the 1970s.
    Image courtesy NASA

  • Out of the Shadows exhibition, the first major survey of Irish art photography

    Out of the Shadows presented a groundbreaking survey of creative photography at a time when the medium was just beginning to be recognised as an art form in Ireland. The exhibition was curated by John Osman, founder of the Gallery of Photography, and supported by the Arts Council – the first time a photography exhibition in the state had received public funding.

  • Belfast Exposed, Northern Ireland’s dedicated photography gallery is established.

    Founded in 1983 by Danny Burke and a group of local photographers as a challenge to media representation of Belfast’s experience of conflict, Belfast Exposed is Northern Ireland’s dedicated photography gallery. Located in the city’s ‘Cathedral Quarter’ since 2003, it continues to reflect a socially engaged ethos, while responding to contemporary currents in photography and politics further afield.

  • Young family, Dublin, July 1985, by Steve Pyke

    Can you help identify the young family in this photograph, taken in Dublin by photographer Steve Pyke in 1985?

  • ‘Ireland – A Week in the Life of a Nation’

    Over 50 internationally recognised photographers (including 15 from Ireland) took part in Ireland – a week in the life of the nation during the last week of August. The resulting book was published the following year. Edited by Red Saunders and Syd Shelton, it featured 250 photographs alongside a number of texts by Anthony Cronin.

  • Feature of the 'Route 66' Exhibition from The Irish Times, February 20th 1986 Feature of the 'Route 66' Exhibition from The Irish Times, February 20th 1986

    John T. Davis’ ‘Route 66’ Exhibition on show at the Gallery of Photography

    The photographs shown in Davis’ exhibition ‘Route 66′ at the Gallery of Photography were the basis for his film of the same name, which was shown to wide acclaim at Dublin’s Film Festival in 1986.

    Award winning director John T. Davis spent three years researching, seeking support for and shooting this remarkable journey across America. “On my first visit to America, I knew that I wanted to make a film comparing my lifelong images of America with the reality of life there”, he says. After completing his punk trilogy, the Ulsterman was awarded an Arts Council Major Bursary to return to the United States to develop his ideas for “Route 66” and he set about looking for other supporters of’ his project. When he found his backers, he spent eighteen months filming. “My imagery of the American culture had been accumulating through rock music, country and western, films, television, literature and the tales of the great U.S. Highways.” – John T. Davis.

  • The Travellers: Black and White Photographs by Donovan Wylie Exhibition held at Gallery of Photography Ireland

    This exhibition portrays the lifestyle of Ireland’s Third World people. It comprises a series of six sections from photographs made in Belfast, Dublin, England and America. These would also be published in book-form in the Spring. The photographs underline the facts of ignorance of, and prejudice towards, travellers. They are denied access to basic services. During the making of these photographs, Donovan saw and learnt a lot. He saw children leaving school knowing no more than when they had started – and other children with burns throughout their bodies. ‘Everybody ignored them. A lot happened during the making of the photographs. People cannot accept travellers either because they perceive them to be unhygienic or simply because they are different from ourselves’

    ‘The people of Ireland don’t realise that travellers are an important part of Ireland’s culture – they simply lead a totally different lifestyle. With the help of my book and exhibitions, maybe people will realise this fact.’

  • ‘Through the Brass Lidded Eye – Photography in Ireland 1839-1900’ by Eddie Chandler and Peter Walsh is published

    Through the Brass Lidded Eye – Photography in Ireland 1839-1900 was published to coincide with a major exhibition at the Guinness Museum, Dublin. Eddie Chandler was involved in photography in Ireland from the 1960s to his death in 2010. Internationally renowned for his expertise, he spent years actively researching his subject. He amassed a substantial collection of early photographic material relating to Ireland, much of which is in the National Library of Ireland’s National Photographic Archive. He was responsible for the acquisition by the NLI of the archive of negatives from Clonbrock House, County Galway. He also advised Sotheby’s and Christie’s in London on Irish photographs and lectured widely on photography. His co-author, Peter Walsh was the curator at The Guinness Museum and has published scholarly articles on the history of photography.

  • Tony O’Shea’s Dubliners book is published – solo exhibition at Gallery of Photography on Wellington Quay

    A legendary figure in the context of Irish documentary photography, O’Shea’s book Dubliners occupies a pivotal role in the history of Irish photography and defines the territory that O’Shea made so inimitably his own – the everyday life of ordinary people, their joys and sorrows, their struggles and triumphs, the rituals that they use to make sense of their lives. Tony O’Shea was born in Valentia Island, County Kerry in 1947 and lived there for the first 20-years of his life. He studied English and Philosophy at University College Dublin and towards the end of the 1970s became increasingly interested in photography. By 1981 he had begun working full-time as a photographer with In Dublin magazine and once it ceased publication he went on to work for Sunday Business Post for many years. His first book Dubliners, including a text by Colm Tóibín was published by Macdonald Illustrated. He lives in Dublin with his wife Sarah, and their daughters Keelin and Siúin. His latest book The Light of the Day is published by RRB Books. Gallery of Photography Ireland is currently working with Tony on a retrospective of his work.

  • Big Jim and Therese O'Sullivan © Pete Smyth Big Jim and Therese O'Sullivan © Pete Smyth

    Pete Smyth’s ‘A View from the Dearth’ Exhibition Premieres in Gallery of Photography Ireland

    This exhibition by photographer Pete Smyth, was a project undertaken with the co–operation of the people in Cushlawn in Tallaght. “A lack of identity, sense of displacement, exacerbated by high unemployment and social welfare dependency, combine to give an impression of people as cyphers – this exhibition is an attempt to dispell this impression and to show that despite the many problems, people in the area have in the main a positive attitude to their situation.

    This exhibition consists of images of the Cushlawn people accompanied by the sitter’s written and audio statements. Pete Smyth continued working on similar projects in Rathcoole.

  • Source publishes its first issue

    Source is a major photographic journal based in Belfast. They published their first issue in 1992. The journal has a strong legacy of engaging with the most important debates in contemporary photography, through extensive portfolios, features and critically engaged reviews. It has long been supported by the Arts Council of Northern Ireland in recognition of its pivotal contribution to evolving debates about the medium.

  • Anthony Haughey ‘Home’ series

    For over a year Haughey lived and worked on the Ballymun housing estate in Dublin. His resulting award-winning social documentary project Home concentrated on the daily lives of several families and was one of the first major Irish documentary projects to utilise colour photography.

    You can see more of the project on his site here.

  • Review of Duane Michals Exhibition from the Sunday Tribune, 31 January 1993 Review of Duane Michals Exhibition from the Sunday Tribune, 31 January 1993

    Duane Michals Exhibition Premieres in Ireland at the Gallery of Photography

    Gallery of Photography was delighted to bring the work of world-renowned American photographer Duane Michals to Ireland with this ‘Photography and Reality Retrospective 1958-1990’ Exhibition.

    Michals, convinced that photography cannot represent reality, dwells on the invisible: dream, loss, death, myth, spirit. Most urgently, he has sought to undermine accepted complacencies, to pose, if not necessarily to answer, questions about the nature of reality, photography and art. He strains against both the conventions and limitations of the medium. Chaffing at photography’s restrictions, Michals began making multiple exposure portraits and single images and sequences that tell peculiar little stories.

    A kind of relentless ordinariness clings to Michal’s photographs. They are simply composed in unexceptional domestic settings or bare interiors. Into this commonplace, the extraordinary steps unannounced, as myth, guilt and philosophical conundrum take awkward and compelling shape on photographic paper.


  • The Sunday Business Post Feature of Elliott Erwitt's 'Personal Exposures', 17 October 1993 The Sunday Business Post Feature of Elliott Erwitt's 'Personal Exposures', 17 October 1993

    Elliott Erwitt’s ‘Personal Exposures’ Exhibition on show at the Gallery of Photography

    A member of the highly prestigious Magnum Photo Agency since 1953, Elliott Erwitt is one of the most successful photographers ever. His pictures are well-known throughout the world through his posters, postcards, books and journalistic work for magazines. He is based in New York.

    Gallery of Photography was proud to be able to exhibit 150 of his best prints here in Dublin. “Personal Exposures” ranges from his early work in Hollywood (intimate back-stage glimpses) to coverage of the Korean War to political summits (his is the famous shot of Nixon aggressively prodding Khrushchev) to touching domestic scenes of lovers and dogs – lots of dogs. And lots more humour.

    For more info see Erwitt’s website here.

  • The Great Pyramids of Carlingford Lough © Seán Hillen The Great Pyramids of Carlingford Lough © Seán Hillen

    Seán Hillen begins his ‘Irelantis’ collage series

    Seán Hillen’s highly influential Irelantis series takes a surreal and irreverent look at the mythologies of modern Ireland, mixing the familiar sights (and sites) of tourist postcards with the fantastical, to reveal the strange in the seemingly ordinary. The scalpel-and-glue collages, most no bigger than a postcard, are a bizarre hybrid of everyday postcard visuals interwoven with an illusory other world. 

    Some of Hillen’s earliest photomontage work incorporates his own photographs of scenes related to the conflict in Northern Ireland, particularly his home town of Newry. In 2011 the National Library of Ireland Photographic Archive acquired some 700 of these early photographs as The Seán Hillen Collection. They were exhibited in 2012 at the Photographic Archive and 17,000 people attended.

    Image copyright © Seán Hillen

    See more of his work on his website here.

  • Sean Hillen produces his collage series Irelantis

    Sean Hillen’s Irelantis takes a surreal and irreverent look at the mythologies of modern Ireland, mixing the familiar sights (and sites) of tourist postcards with the fantastical, revealing the strange in the seemingly ordinary.

    See more of his work here.

  • New Home for the Gallery of Photography

    After more than six years in development, Gallery of Photography Ireland moves to its new home in Meeting House Square, Temple Bar. Designed by O’Donnell & Tuomey Architects, the concept for the building was inspired by the Box Brownie camera.

    Photo of Architect’s model of the building, © O’Donnell & Tuomey Architects

  • Krass Clement publishes ‘Drum – a place in Ireland’

    Danish photographer Krass Clement’s Drum, was photographed in the eponymous village in County Monaghan. The series unfolds in the village pub, and was largely shot over a single evening with only three and a half rolls of film. It is now considered one of the most important contributions to the canon of contemporary photobooks. Revolving around one principal character – a hunched, weatherbeaten old man who sits alone with his drink, Drum comments on community, the outsider, alienation and the terrors of being alone. It was exhibited for the first time in Ireland in Gallery of Photography Ireland in 2017, with a special projection installation of the work in the original pub setting.

  • Juggler, Cologne, 1929 © August Sander Juggler, Cologne, 1929 © August Sander

    August Sander Exhibition at Gallery of Photography Ireland

    August Sander chronicled German society through his monumental project ‘Man of the 20th Century’. This covered that period between the fall of Kaiser Wilhelm and the rise of Adolf Hitler – the epoch of the Weimar Republic. It was never published in one volume, but the current exhibition contains an evocative selection of the photographer’s lifework, showing him to have been one of the most important portraitists of the twentieth century.

    Sander’s work is nothing less than a group portrait of an entire people, illustrating the socio-economic conditions in Germany between the two world wars. All of Germany passed before his lens and no profession, class or type could escape his cool, non judgemental eye. As always, he searched for the archetype, the person who fulfilled a role in society and yet remained an individual human being. To indicate the universal scope of his project, he never listed the name of the subject; the only identification is the occupation or activity of the person. Thus, his photographs also reveal insights which are of great interest within the context of art history, anthropology and communications sciences.

    Sander’s genius was to let his subjects appear as they were, to let each face relate to its own history. He did not glorify the master race, nor even hold up the Nazis to ridicule. Indeed his persecution by the Nazis was due to his ability to depict the truth about his fellow Germans. This was not only a violation of the totalitarian state’s propaganda; these truthful pictures were condemnation in themselves.

    We must be able to endure seeing the truth, but above all we should pass it on to our fellow men and to posterity, whether it be favourable or unfavourable for us. I have been a photographer for thirty years and have engaged in photography with the utmost seriousness ….. Nothing is more hateful to me than photography sugar-coated with gimmicks, poses, and faces’ effects. Therefore, let me speak the truth in all honesty about our age and the people of our age. – August Sander 1927.

  • Tory Island, © Martine Franck Tory Island, © Martine Franck

    Martine Franck’s ‘Tory Island’ Exhibition & Book are launched at Gallery of Photography

    Gallery of Photography hosted the first showing of Tory Island, an exhibition of photographs by the well known photographer Martine Franck of Magnum Photo Agency.

    Martine Franck first went to Tory in 1993 with the painter Derek Hill, to document life on this wind-swept island. The evocative images in this exhibition are a culmination of the time she has spent there over the years. Tory is a Gaelic-speaking island, with a tradition of an elected ‘king’ who is the island’s chief spokesman and arbiter. The population, long declining, appears to have stabilised at around 130 inhabitants. The islanders derive their livelihood, with difficulty, from fishing and agriculture and now to a growing extent from tourism. Bleak and treeless the island may be, but in its bleakness, it can be spectacularly beautiful. As if reflecting that beauty, under the inspiration of Derek Hill, a school of painting has arisen on Tory in recent decades, whose largely ‘primitive’ works have found international recognition.

    Martine Franck’s superb photography offers an intimate glimpse of the island and its people. Who, looking at the vibrant faces of its children, could have doubts for the island’s future?

    The accompanying book ‘Tory Island Images’, published by Wolfhound Press, was launched at the exhibition.

  • All Zones Off Peak, © Tom Wood All Zones Off Peak, © Tom Wood

    Tom Wood All Zones Off Peak Exhibition at Gallery of Photography Ireland

    Irish photographer Tom Wood’s All Zones Off Peak is the culmination of a fifteen year photographic odyssey around Liverpool. From the simple starting point of photographing from a bus, he has created a Joycean vision of the city- a complex, lived-in, living reality. Tom Wood shot more than three thousand rolls of film in realising this ambitious and compelling project. From the earliest silver prints, to the recently completed large-scale colour images, it is a remarkable achievement that explores new ground in photography. With a beauty that catches you unawares, the work delivers an extraordinary picture of the ordinary. Tom Wood’s art lies in his commitment to the multi-layered lives of the people he depicts. Never sneering at them, or appropriating them for some political cause, Wood’s work nevertheless holds a political message. The social realities he portrays are underpinned by the thoughts and dreams of his protagonists; at every instant, the ‘real world’ is open to transformation. A wonderful book, All Zones Off Peak, accompanies the exhibition, published by Dewi Lewis.

    For more info, see the photographer’s website here.

  • Major retrospective of Harry Thuillier Jr at the Gallery of Photography.

    This posthumous retrospective of Irish photographer Harry Thuillier Jr featured a range of dark and shadowy work, showcasing in particular his mastery of the arcane platinum printing process. Thuillier died in tragic circumstances at the age of just 33.

  • David Farrell wins the European Publishers Award for his project ‘Innocent Landscapes’

    On foot of this coveted Award, Farrell’s work was published in hardback editions by five European publishers, with French, German, Italian, Spanish and English-language texts as appropriate.

    Image: Ballynultagh, 2000, from the series Innocent Landscapes.

    You can see more from the project on his website.



  • Richard Torchia transformed the Gallery of Photography into a giant, walk-in camera

    American artist and curator Richard Torchia’s installation ‘Architectural Optics’ turned the Gallery building into a giant, walk-in camera, where visitors could see a vast upside-down view of the scene outside. Deceptively simple, the work had a hypnotic, even hallucinatory quality. The work was made in collaboration with John Tuomey of O’Donnell & Tuomey, architects of the building.

  • John Duncan’s series ‘Trees from Germany’

    John Duncan’s series Trees from Germany explores the rapid development of his native Belfast in the wake of the Good Friday Agreement. He shows how the city was transformed by an influx of investment capital much like the rapid economic growth of southern Ireland characterised as the Celtic Tiger. Duncan is one of the editors of the prestigious Source magazine.

    Image: Cotton Court, Waring Street, Belfast, 2003

    You can see the rest of the work on his site here.

  • Donovan Wylie published his acclaimed MAZE book and series

    Between 2002 and 2003 Donovan Wylie spent almost a hundred days photographing inside the Maze prison. Through its history of protests, hunger strikes and escapes, this prison, holding both republican and loyalist prisoners, became synonymous with the Northern Ireland conflict. After the Belfast peace agreement in 1998, inmates were gradually released, but the Maze remained open. Wylie was then the only photographer granted official and unlimited access to the site, when the demolition of the prison began, symbolising the end of the conflict in 2007. This series documents the physical structure of the place and gives the viewer some experience of the psychological impact of being inside the Maze. Donovan had his first exhibition in Gallery of Photography Ireland when he was sixteen years old.

  • Anthony Haughey’s Disputed Territory awarded the international Leopold Godowsky Jr Photography Award.

    Irish photographer Anthony Haughey’s long-term project Disputed Territory investigates the aftermath of recent conflict in Europe, including Kosovo, Bosnia and Ireland. The award-winning series culminated in 2006 with a major international touring exhibition and publication. Besides large-scale colour photographs, Disputed Territory includes a series of interventions using found photographs, and a sound/video installation piece, Resolution.

    Image courtesy the artist.

  • Work from 'When a Building Sleeps', © David Farrell Work from 'When a Building Sleeps', © David Farrell

    The Central Bank Art Commissions – David Farrell

    For his Central Bank Commission, David Farrell’s presents When A Building Sleeps, a series of photographic prints and video works shot inside the bank after office hours. Farrell deftly sets up a set of relationships – between reflection and reality; interior and exterior; and daytime and nighttime. Like the building’s suspended  floors, the work conveys a sense of weightlessness: the viewer seems to float or hover over the city. Its dreamlike quality is instilled with an underlying sense of surveillance. Oblique references to a kind of ghost story keep the viewer hooked into a sustained meditation on the nature of time.

    Image copyright © David Farrell

    You can see the rest of this work on his website here.

  • Lucia, €700,000 from "Statistical Portraits' © Michael Duran Lucia, €700,000 from "Statistical Portraits' © Michael Duran

    The Central Bank Art Commissions – Michael Durand

    Facts and figures feature prominently in Michael Durand’s Central Bank Commission, an engaging series of portraits of Central Bank staff, Statistical Portraits. Durand has portrayed each person with a pile of decommissioned (shredded) money. The size of the pile of cash corresponds to a statistic of the person’s choosing: from 1.45 euro (the average annual donation to charity by Irish people) to 700,000 euro (the cost of a new Mercedes Maybach)… The result is a dynamic and exuberant series of portraits where individual personalities are allowed to shine through. Durand’s work, which occupies the entire upper gallery, concludes with a site-specific installation made from approximately two million euro in decommissioned Euro notes.

    Image copyright © Michael Durand

  • The Messenger © Michael Boran The Messenger © Michael Boran

    The Central Bank Art Commissions – Michael Boran

    In his Central Bank Commission, Michael Boran’s work focuses on the Plaza and steps. It reveals the secret poetry of fleeting moments captured as people go about their everyday business. A man looking in his wallet shows the keepsake snapshot inside. People entering and leaving the building make bold patterns against the steps, playfully mirroring the graphing of economic ascent and descent. Upstairs, an office worker glances away from her computer against a panoramic vista of the city’s changing skyline.

    Image Copyright © Michael Boran

  • Karl Grimes’s ‘Dignified Kings Play Chess on Fine Green Silk’ project

    The National Museum and Gallery of Photography jointly presented Dignified Kings Play Chess on Fine Green Silk, a body of work by Irish photographer Karl Grimes based on his artist-in-residency at the Natural History Museum. In photographs, drawings, lightboxes, text and sound, it re-interprets the museum ‘Dead Zoo’ collections and Victorian museum practices in Ireland. It also highlighted the work of the pioneering scientist R.M. Barrington, whose 20-year study of the migratory patterns of birds was conducted with the assistance of Irish lighthouse keepers and is an early example of participatory, ‘citizen’ science.

    Image courtesy the artist.

  • Source Magazine launches ‘Graduate Photography Online’

    Graduate Photography Online is Source’s annual showcase for Photographers graduating from University and Art College based photography courses.

    Since the project’s introduction in 2007 the majority of participating courses have been drawn from Colleges and Universities based in the UK and Ireland – though they have had courses from the USA and even Dubai take part. Since 2008, every year they also commission a number of prominent figures from the world of photography to select their favourite sets of work from all the material submitted.

    Each participating Photographer submits eight images selected from their graduate work, accompanied by a paragraph of text outlining the intent of the work and their contact details. Individual Photographers are indexed primarily according to the University and Course to which they belong and since 2010 they have also begun to index the work according to the photographic genre to which it belongs.

    A fantastic resource, Source Graduate Online is an ongoing archive that shows the depth and breadth of photographic work from new talents since 2007.

    Featured image by Alberto Maserin from the 2011 edition of Source Graduate Online

  • Eoin O’Conaill receives the Gallery of Photography’s Artist Award for his project ‘Common Place’

    Eoin O’Conaill received the Gallery of Photography’s Artist Award for his project Common Place. The work formed the basis of his first major solo exhibition and is a subtle exploration of Ireland during the recent period of cultural and economic change. Its atmospheric images are of fractured landscapes of contemporary life on the hinterlands of Irish cities and towns. The photographs are mainly taken at transitional hours of the day, early morning or evening time, again exploring the liminal and the in-between.

    Image courtesy the artist

  • Simon Burch’s project Under a Grey Sky

    Made over four years, the work explores the rain-soaked peatlands of Ireland’s central plain, the most intensively industrialised landscape in the country. In large scale colour landscapes and portraits, Burch captures the distinctive textures of this unique area, revealing hidden surprises. With its palette of browns and muted greys, Burch’s work has a strong painterly quality. In large-scale prints, gouged and scarred landscapes meet monotone skies; expansive horizons convey a sense of freedom and possibility. The work presents a dichotomy between the desolation and emptiness of the peatland, and the latent energy it holds for the community. These are negative spaces providing a positive utility, albeit at the cost of their own destruction. Laced between the worked bogs are villages whose inhabitants are intrinsically linked to the land, either by past generations who have been locked in by economic needs, or others seeking to live where they feel free.

    See more of the project on Simon Burch’s site.

    Image courtesy the artist.

  • The newly refurbished Gallery of Photography The newly refurbished Gallery of Photography

    The LightRoom opens at the newly refurbished Gallery of Photography

    Photography in Ireland is brought to a new level, with the opening of The LightRoom at the newly refurbished Gallery of Photography in Dublin’s Temple Bar.

    The LightRoom is the new roof-level extension of the Gallery of Photography. It was launched by Martin Cullen TD, Minister for Arts, Sport & Tourism.

    Speaking at the launch, the Minister said: “One of the most accessible of the visual art forms, photography documents, interprets and reflects our world back to us. It is almost the mirror of our age. The Internet has made images – their capture, creation or manipulation – an inescapable part of daily life, as well as a global multi-million dollar industry, one in which Ireland has scored recent successes. Now, more than ever, it is essential that the Irish creative sector in this field be fostered and supported – to ensure we win our share of the potential investment that exists out there, and the employment opportunities that it brings.”

    The Minister noted the excellent standard of the extension’s architecture. Designed by the award-winning O’Donnell and Tuomey architects, The LightRoom will “make it possible for the gallery to continue doing what it has done well for over thirty years – promoting and developing contemporary photography nationally and internationally, and showcasing the best of emerging and established Irish and international contemporary photography” he added.

  • Ángel Luis González founds PhotoIreland Foundation

    PhotoIreland Foundation was founded by Ángel Luis González in 2009. It changed its name to PhotoIreland and now runs an annual PhotoIreland Festival and the Halftone print fair. In 2020, it launched the publication Over Journal – the Critical Journal of Photography and Visual Culture for the 21st century. In addition, it runs an art bookshop called The Library Project, which offers a collection of photobooks as a resource library in Temple Bar, Dublin.

    Working with curator Moritz Neumüller, the organisation held its first annual  “PhotoIreland Festival” in Dublin in 2010.

    For more information visit

  • Unknown Labourer, c.1858 © Sean Sexton Unknown Labourer, c.1858 © Sean Sexton

    The Exhibition ‘The Collector’s Eye: Original Vintage Prints from the Sean Sexton Collection’ premieres at Gallery of Photography

    This fascinating exhibition offered an intriguing glimpse into Sean Sexton’s photography collection – one of the finest and most extensive held in private hands today.  It presented a rare opportunity to view some of the earliest photographic records ever made in Ireland as well as extremely rare early daguerreotypes and ambrotypes. In addition, it included an eclectic range of work, from fanciful 1910’s early flight through to dramatic images taken by soldiers in WW2. With over 100 original vintage images on display, the exhibition charted one man’s passionate journey through photographic history. For Sexton the photograph does not merely illustrate written histories: “Photography has a voice in its own right”.

    Image: ‘The Labourer’ – photographer unknown. Ambrotype, c1857.

    About Sean Sexton: Born in Co. Clare in 1946, Sean Sexton emigrated to London, where in 1973 he acquired his first Irish historical photographs. His collection is still growing and now includes over 20,000 images, documenting every aspect of Ireland’s past and illustrating the development of the photographic art form. His books include Ireland ­– Photographs 1840-1930, introduction by J.J. Lee (1994); The Plant Kingdoms of Charles Jones (with Robert Flynn Johnson), (1998); and The Irish, introduction by Christine Kinealy (2002).

    In 2020, many items were stolen from Sexton’s collection. Some items have been recovered, but many pieces, including ‘The Labourer’ featured here, are still missing. Any Irish historical or documentary photographs appearing at auctions or offered for sale should be viewed with suspicion.

    Further information: In 2023, Sexton’s collection was the subject of a major documentary, ‘Framing Irish History: the Sean Sexton Collection’. Produced by Poolbeg Productions. Directed by Donald Taylor-Black.
    An overview of Sexton’s contribution has been published by Dr Orla Fitzpatrick on RTE’s Brainstorm.


  • Noel Bowler’s series Making Space

    Noel Bowler’s Making Space series looks at how the Islamic community in Ireland has adapted existing locations for the purposes of prayer and religious observance. Bowler’s contemplative pictures give a unique view of the intersections between faith and place in a rapidly changing Ireland.

    See more of the project here.

    Image courtesy the artist.

  • 6 July 2010, Coghalstown Wood, Wilkinstown, County Meath © David Farrell 6 July 2010, Coghalstown Wood, Wilkinstown, County Meath © David Farrell

    The Long View Exhibition and Publication Launches at Gallery of Photography Ireland

    The Long View brings together, for the first time, work by Irish artists David Farrell, Anthony Haughey, Richard Mosse, Jackie Nickerson, Paul Seawright and Donovan Wylie.

    These artists have established considerable international reputations and their photographs are represented in major collections worldwide. The featured works are the result of a sustained process of engagement over periods of months or even years. The exhibition thus marks an important counterpoint to the increasingly disposable nature of photographic images in the digital world. The Long View addresses questions of landscape and memory, history and social change in both Irish and more global contexts.

    A full-colour publication with a text by Justin Carville accompanies the exhibition. The Long View is curated by Tanya Kiang and Trish Lambe. It is a featured exhibition of the PhotoIreland Festival 2011.

  • Belfast Photo Festival is founded

    Launched in 2011, this biennial photographic event has been described as one of the “top ten photography festivals in the world” (Capture Magazine) and attracts upwards of 80 thousand visitors a year, celebrating some of the finest National and International contemporary photography across leading museums, galleries and public spaces. Capturing wide appeal through popular culture, accessible themes and unexpected encounters with photography, the festival aims to instil and inspire public enjoyment and participation by utilising the most accessible artistic medium and bringing it to new audiences in cool and unusual ways.

  • Sebastião Salgado exhibited his ‘Amazon’ series in Dublin

    For his Amazon project, Sebastião Salgado travelled the Brazilian Amazon for six years and photographed the unparalleled beauty of this extraordinary region: its forests, rivers, mountains and peoples. In 2012, Gallery of Photography Ireland hosted the world premiere of this acclaimed body of work which was accompanied by a programme of education activities promoting conservation of the planet’s rainforests.

  • Premiere of ‘THE MARKET’ by Mark Curran

    For this ambitious undertaking, Irish artist Mark Curran contacted stock and commodity exchanges around the globe, including the Irish Stock Exchange, London and Frankfurt’s financial centres and the recently established Ethiopian Commodity Exchange in Addis Ababa. Negotiating access took on average more than 18 months. The installation in Ireland’s Gallery of Photography combined photographs, film, artefacts, sound and verbal testimonies.

    Image: Bethlehem, Trader (negotiation 1.5 years), Ethiopian Commodity Exchange (ECX), Addis Ababa, Ethiopia, from the series THE MARKET, September 2012. Courtesy the artist.


  • Eamonn Doyle publishes his first photobook, i

    Eamonn Doyle’s first self-published photobook i marked his return to photography after a successful career in music. Made in Dublin city centre the work was a startling new development for the tradition of street photography. It created a sensation in the photobook world, lauded by Martin Parr, among many others. i marked the start of a string of projects and publications for Doyle, each more successful than the last.

    Visit Eamonn Doyle’s website here.

  • Dragana Jurišić publishes her book YU: The Lost Country

    Born in the former Yugoslavia, Dragana Jurišić is an artist living and working in Ireland. Her project YU: The Lost Country retraces the journey of writer Rebecca West across Jurišić’s former homeland in the 1930s. This subtle work considers the experience of exile and how national histories intersect with individual lives. Jurišić’s personal reflections appear as a text alongside her photographs, at times in dialogue with West’s and at others describing the making of the work as coming to terms with her own past.

    For more see her website.

  • Ciarán Óg Arnold wins the Mack First Book Award

    Ciarán Óg Arnold received this award from the international publisher Mack for his photobook entitled, I went to the worst of bars hoping to get killed but all I could do was to get drunk again. The title is taken from a poem by Charles Bukowski. Arnold’s darkly expressive study of the lives of young people in Ireland’s midlands captures smalltown life with a rawness and immediacy in the shadow of a declining national economy.

    For more see Ciarán Óg Arnold’s website.

    Image courtesy the artist.

  • At Mirrored River, © Enda Bowe At Mirrored River, © Enda Bowe

    Enda Bowe’s ‘At Mirrored River’ is Published

    ‘At Mirrored River’ was inspired by the Gaelic word Teannalach (pron. “chann-ah-lack”). Teannalach is a Gaelic word used in the West of Ireland which means awareness. In particular, it is an awareness of who we are, the questions we ask, and the dreams we project. In ‘At Mirrored River’, Bowe constructs an unrecognizable geographical picture of a town that has no recognizable image. Through his pairing of quiet uncluttered colour portraits of the town and its people, the soul of the community is slowly revealed. To Bowe, the ordinary or overlooked is where universal beauty, magic and possibilities lie. A poem by Scottish poet John Glenday sets the mood for the introduction of this publication and award-winning playwright and author Lucy Caldwell contributes a new short story.

    Enda Bowe’s ‘At Mirrored River’ has received nominations for the Deutsche Borse Photography Prize and the Prix Pictet Award.

    See more information about the publication here.

  • Artist Krass Clement at Gallery of Photography Ireland, 2017 Artist Krass Clement at Gallery of Photography Ireland, 2017

    Irish Premiere Exhibition of Krass Clement’s Drum and Dublin Work in Gallery of Photography Ireland

    Krass Clement’s ‘Drum’ was published in 1996, and is a photobook classic. All the images in it were, famously, shot in the course of one evening. His Dublin photographs were presented for the first time as a book and exhibition at Gallery of Photography Ireland in 2017.

    “The Gallery of Photography’s invitation to revisit Drum 25 years on brought one of two surprises (the discovery that one of the men in the bar was the father of arts minister Heather Humphreys, for example), and spurred him to revisit the Dublin photographs from the same Irish visit. They had never gotten beyond contact sheets. Suddenly he was in the position of making an exhibition and, as it transpired, a new book, based on photographs taken 25 years previously.” Aidan Dunne, Irish Times.

    The programme also featured a public art weekend in Drum village, Monaghan where Krass presented his work to the people of Drum as an projection installation in the original pub. Artist Kevin Fox worked with local people to create a contemporary portrait of Drum.

  • Diane by Mandy O’Neill

    Mandy O’Neill’s practice draws on themes of youth, adolescence, and education, with a particular emphasis on portraiture. In the last number of years she has undertaken extended artist residencies in both schools and institutions. Her work engages with the physical and psychological space of these environments, coupled with the interplay of people and place. It seeks to examine the wider structural, social and political contexts within which institutions operate and particularly those tasked with the support and development of children and young people.

    Mandy was awarded the Zurich Portrait Prize in 2018 for her photograph of Diane. This was the first time the Prize had been awarded for a photograph.

  • Eamonn Doyle’s mid-career retrospective ‘Made in Dublin’ published by Phaidon

    Building on the success of his own self-published projects, this lavish mid-career retrospective surveys Doyle’s innovative approach to street photography. The publication features powerful design from Doyle’s long-time collaborator Niall Sweeney.

  • National Photography Collection at Gallery of Photography Ireland is established

    The National Photography Collection builds on Gallery of Photography Ireland’s existing archival print holdings of over 100 works by leading contemporary photographic practitioners. This artist-focused collection will define an artistic canon for the medium, fostering a wider understanding and appreciation of art photography. The collection’s patron is the President of Ireland, Michael D. Higgins. For the foundational phase, the costs of production of archival prints are supported by a philanthropic donation from C. K. O’Malley. The initiative is the cornerstone of Gallery of Photography Ireland’s wider plans to establish a permanent national Museum of Contemporary Photography.

  • First issue of ‘Over Journal’

    Over Journal – the Critical Journal of Photography and Visual Culture for the 21st century is produced by PhotoIreland.

    To find out more visit Over

  • Gilles Peress’ epic summation of his work in Northern Ireland published by Steidl

    In 1972, Magnum photographer Gilles Peress photographed the British Army’s massacre of civilians on Bloody Sunday in Derry, and he returned to Northern Ireland again in the 1980s. Whatever You Say, Say Nothing, Peress’ 1,960-page summation of his work in Northern Ireland, was thirty years in the making. It places scenes of everyday life in 1970s and 1980s Northern Ireland alongside harrowing images of violence and grief. He describes Whatever You Say, Say Nothing as a work of ‘documentary fiction’, as it organises a decade of photographs across 22 fictional ‘days’ to articulate the sense of a conflict that seemed endless. The epic work comes in two volumes with an accompanying ‘almanac’.

  • Dara McGrath’s Centenary project ‘For Those That Tell No Tales’ premiered at Crawford Art Gallery, Cork

    Dara McGrath’s For Those That Tell No Tales is a major body of work exploring place, memory and the War of Independence. Approximately 1,400 people died as a direct result of the conflict between 1919-21. Cork saw some of the bloodiest fighting: a total of 528 people lost their lives in the city and county, including civilians, British Forces, and Irish Volunteers (who in 1920 became known as the Irish Republican Army or Óglaigh Na hÉireann). McGrath’s project premiered at the Crawford Art Gallery in Cork.


    Site-442 Sunday’s Well.
    Fr James O’Callaghan, Civilian.

    Father James O’Callaghan (aged 38) who was attached to the North Cathedral was shot dead by a party of Black and Tans on the night 15 May 1921, on the 1st floor landing of a house in Upper Janemount in the Sunday’s Well area of Cork city.

    O’Callaghan was lodging in the house of Liam De Róiste, (Sinn Féin Alderman and TD William Roche), who was himself then on the run because of his fear that he was on a British ‘hit list’. The house had been raided by the RIC previously and on these occasions the police had met O’Callaghan so they knew that he was staying there as a guest.

    O’Callaghan from Enniskean, was educated in Maynooth. A fluent Irish speaker he was professor in the Irish College, Ballingeary for some years. He is buried at Clogheen Churchyard.

  • Gallery of Photography Ireland becomes Photo Museum Ireland!

    On 22 June Gallery of Photography marked an important step in its development, changing its name to Photo Museum Ireland. The new name better reflects the organisation’s role as Ireland’s national centre for contemporary photography, and will assist the organisation in realising its ultimate goal of relocating to a larger space on a par with international photo museums.

  • In Our Own Image: The Politics of Place – the exhibition is launched

    The third chapter of the Museum’s year-long In Our Own Image exhibition programme, The Politics of Place is a landmark survey exhibition that undertakes a critical reframing of the way Irish life has been represented through photography. It addresses how photographers have engaged with the notion of place, one of the defining obsessions of our national life. 

    Open between 25 June – 27 August 2022