Friday 23 February 2018

Hard times: exhibition reflects on even tougher era

Barry Duggan

AND we think we have it tough these days.

These powerful images were taken by award-winning photographer Gerry Andrews in Limerick's Milk Market from 1971 to 1980.

They are all part of an exhibition at the city's Hunt Museum which opened last night. The identities of the people in the photographs -- apart from one of 'Old Moll' -- are unknown.

From Wolfe Tone Street in Limerick, Mr Andrews's interest in photography began when he started work on the 'Limerick Leader' newspaper.

"I was very fortunate to work with great people there. Billy Butler was passionate about photography and was technically very good and he encouraged me," he said.

Mr Andrews said he used conventional cameras with high-speed film, adding: "The type of photography I was interested in was social-documentary photography. It was a natural thing for me to do -- to record a marketplace.

"My interest was in the characters in the old market that you don't see today."

Mr Andrews said some of the people photographed were well-known characters.

"There is a photograph of Old Moll. Her real name was Mary White and she lived in Clondrinagh. She would get two buses into the market and lived close to 100 years of age.

"She was very fashion-conscious and would have a different bonnet on each time she came to the market.

"People whom I photographed back then, their grandparents all lived through the Famine. I was very conscious of that link to history."

Mr Andrews admits that times were a great deal tougher in Limerick in the 1970s than compared with the current recession.

"We have come a long way in one generation. Even though we complain about austerity and about how times are hard now, how easily we forget.

"I would suggest that anyone who walks into the Hunt Museum and sees those images might reflect on the fact that this was Limerick one generation ago."

While the city centre market remains the most popular destination for weekend shoppers, it has been completely refurbished.

Today it boasts food products from across the country and further afield.

"It is fabulous -- completely changed," Mr Andrews said.

'Shaped by History' runs at the Hunt Museum until September 16.

Irish Independent

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