Tuesday 21 November 2017

Life and times of the tenements revisited

Nicola Anderson

Nicola Anderson

THIS was Dublin in the Rare Auld Times – when families were still crammed into crumbling tenement flats, money was tight and food was scarce.

But even the life of a messenger boy wasn't so bad. In between careering down the dilapidated city streets carrying the steel boxes that contained the plans for new flats that would replace the tenements, Mick Brown was taking pictures on the box camera that he had bought with his own hard-earned cash.

It was a hobby he did not share with his parents because they simply "weren't interested," claimed Brown, who grew up in the Liberties.

The images from the 1960s and '70s would turn out to be the important documentation of the end of an era – something he did not realise at the time, though he did sense "something was going on".

He described Ireland then as being "like Cuba – a typical post-revolutionary country with one person in control. In our case it was De Valera – and of course the Catholic Church," he laughed. "The (colour) film was very expensive and you only got 12 exposures to a roll so it was limiting," he explained. "You could only take a few shots." The shots languished in boxes for almost half a century until Mick – now working as a Polar photographer and guide – realised he had the makings of a book.

'Dublin Inner City Street Life in the 1960s and 70s' was launched at the Dublin Civic Trust on Castle Street last night, coupled with an exhibition that opens there today and will run there until the end of August.

Irish Independent

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