Thursday 19 October 2017

'Photo detectives' shed light on historical shots

Finn Keenaghan (two months) and Ann Murphy in front of a portrait of her father Tadhg Devane on the streets of Portmagee in Co Kerry at the launch of the National Library ‘Photo Detectives’ exhibition. Photo: Collins
Finn Keenaghan (two months) and Ann Murphy in front of a portrait of her father Tadhg Devane on the streets of Portmagee in Co Kerry at the launch of the National Library ‘Photo Detectives’ exhibition. Photo: Collins
Kirsty Blake Knox

Kirsty Blake Knox

A group of 'photo detectives' have been working tirelessly to piece together the hidden history and lost memories behind some of the National Library of Ireland's (NLI) oldest photographs.

Since June 2011, the NLI has been sharing old and often forgotten images from its 450 million-strong archive on Flickr and asking a group of 'Flickeroonies' to help it unearth the history.

The NLI has amassed 34,000 followers on Flickr over the past six years, and they have identified locations and individuals captured in the frame.

A new exhibition in the National Photographic Archive pays tribute to the 'Photo Detectives' and shows 26 images dating from 1870 to 1970.

"It's crowd-sourcing for social history," a spokesperson said.

The images include royal visits to Kilkenny castle, weddings in Waterford, family holidays in Donegal and the footing of the turf in Antrim.

In each image, the curators have highlighted clues or tell-tell signs that gave contributors indications as to the time and place the shot was taken. Highlights of the exhibition include a photograph of some of the survivors of the Lusitania, three beaming flower girls, and a large-scale image of the shop-front of Mortimers in Waterford taken in 1916.

The exhibition was launched by Sabina Higgins and is free to visit. It runs until September 2018.

"We photograph and document so many moments of our lives online now, but it's important we keep alive the stories and traditions of life in Ireland before the digital age," she said.

"This exhibition is a wonderful example of using modern technology to give life back to old photos."

Irish Independent

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