Saturday 18 November 2017

Who is the Irish man in this rare 164-year-old photo?

This man was photographed in Co Waterford in 1853
This man was photographed in Co Waterford in 1853

Kathy Armstrong

This very rare photo shows a famine survivor whose peers were practically wiped out by starvation and disease.

The incredible snap was taken in 1853 by photographer John Gregory Crace on the estate of the Duke of Devonshire in Co Waterford.

It is part of a new exhibition that will kick off later this month to commemorate the Irish Famine, which lasted from 1845 to 1852.

Historian Gerard McCarthy is organising The Irish Potato Famine exhibition, which will run on the top floor of St Stephen's Green Shopping Centre in Dublin from May 29 until September 30.

Gerard told "This is a very important year as it is 170 years since 1847, which is considered to have been the worst year of the famine in Ireland.

"I'm not sure if there are any events happening to commemorate it around the country so I decided to put together this exhibition.

"I've been researching this for about six months so I have a lot of information people might not have seen before, particularly from private collections.

"For example this photo is of a man who we believe was a labourer who we believe would have worked on the Duke of Devonshire' land.

"The man who owns this photo reckons it is the oldest photo that exists of the Irish famine, it's extremely rare as photography would have still been quite new.

"There's no other information about the man but as this was taken in 1853 and the famine ended in 1852 you could say he survived the famine."

Gerard is keen to make history more accessible to people and previously produced a film on the 1916 Rising, which was shown in schools.

He said: "This photo will be the main logo for the exhibition as it's quite eye-catching.

"My idea is I want this to be accessible for people, I know some historical exhibitions can be a little bit boring but this is done in such a  way that it sticks to the story, it uses the facts but it tells the story in an easy way with very large display panels, a short film and it's heavy on photos.

"Even if you don't know anything about the famine hopefully you'll still find it very interesting."

For more information about The Irish Potato Famine please visit or email

Admission is €8 for adults or €4 for children.

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