herald

Tuesday 6 December 2016

Decades of images of Dublin life emerge in remarkable collection

Circled, a young Imelda May (inset) making her Confirmation at St Brigid’s in The Coombe in 1986
Circled, a young Imelda May (inset) making her Confirmation at St Brigid’s in The Coombe in 1986
Picture taken by John Walsh
Picture taken by John Walsh
John Walsh
May Procession High Street
Musician Imelda May
Picture taken by John Walsh 50 Francis Street
Picture taken by John Walsh
Communion Meath Street 1959

A treasure trove of thousands of photographs of Dubliners spanning a half century has been uncovered.

The amazing pictures were taken by photographer John Walsh, mainly around The Liberties area of the city.

The images chronicle the life of a community from the 1940s to the 1990s.

The pictures include images of a number of people before they became well-known, such as singer Imelda May with her classmates on their Confirmation Day in the 1980s.

The photographs of a bygone era are contained in a vast collection of boxes carefully filed away by the photographer, who died in 1999 at the age of 84.

He displayed the photos for sale in the shop window of his business at 50, Francis Street, in Dublin. The building was demolished and rebuilt in the 1990s.

Legacy

The photographer's granddaughter, Suzanne Behan, has now placed hundreds of his photographs on a Facebook page entitled 'The 50 Francis Street Photographer.'

Trip to the races from O’Connors pub, in the Liberties, in the 1960s
Trip to the races from O’Connors pub, in the Liberties, in the 1960s

"There are thousands more where they came from," she told the Herald. "Opening up the boxes I've found photographs and negatives in pristine condition.

"He kept a code to identify the dates and places of the events, which he kept in ledgers dating from the 1960s."

The wide range of events he photographed included outings to the races, religious processions, weddings, football matches, school groups, shopfronts and even random scenes in pubs.

"There are so many photographs of so many people in Dublin," said Ms Behan.

"It would be great if there was some type of grant available to fund mounting and exhibiting them so that the people who don't use social media could enjoy them, too."

Ms Behan was also interviewed by Ryan Tubridy on his show on RTE Radio One about her grandfather's wonderful legacy.

Some of the images from John Walsh’s photographic archive
Some of the images from John Walsh’s photographic archive

John Walsh was apprenticed to a photographer in Capel Street during the 1930s. He married a Liberties woman, Suey Guy, in 1941 but spent much of WWII working in an ammunition factory in England.

His wife ran a shop in Francis Street called the Myra Dairy and John operated his photographic business from the premises. They had four daughters. After Suey died in 1968, John continued to use the shop for his photographic business until the 1990s.

Tomorrow, we publish more photographs from this exceptional collection. Do you recognise yourself in any of these photos?

If you have a story behind the pictures, email on hnews@herald.ie or visit www.facebook.com/JohnWalsh50Francisstreet/photos

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