independent

Wednesday 14 November 2018

Taking a peek back in time to view images of the Balbriggan of 1893

Balbriggan Beat

Denise Richardson and Brian Howley at the Balbriggan People and Places Photo Exbo in the Bracken Court Hotel. Photo by Fintan Clarke
Denise Richardson and Brian Howley at the Balbriggan People and Places Photo Exbo in the Bracken Court Hotel. Photo by Fintan Clarke
Ronnie Norton, Kilian Harford, Brian Kavanagh and May McKeon at the Balbriggan People and Places Photo Exbo in the Bracken Court Hotel

Balbriggan & District Historical Society was proud to present a unique photographic record of the town and its people in a special exhibition, held recently.

The exhibition focused on the 'people and places' of Balbriggan in the year of 1893, as represented by a fascinating collection of photographs taken in that year.

In 2016, the Society acquired a collection of photographs taken by Mr. Lewis Whyte, amateur photographer and Managing Director at Smyco factory on Railway Street.

Many of the photographs were taken on a single day and capture the people and familiar places of Balbriggan.

A spokesperson for Balbriggan and District Historical Society said: 'Since acquiring these photographs we have got them digitised and a selection of them printed.

'We feel that the conservation and exhibition of these albums is an important contribution by our society to the cultural heritage of our town.

'To this end we held an exhibition in the Bracken Court Hotel and put the photographs on display.'

Ronnie Norton became key to staging the exhibition as he took on the role of digitising the images so they could be displayed.

Speaking to the Fingal Independent about the project, Ronnie said: 'Sometimes the end result of a project is totally different from your first perception.

'When I was approached by the committee of the Balbriggan Historical Society to prepare a set of digital files from two treasured albums of tiny fading photographs of the town in a bygone era with a view to a possible exhibition it immediately appealed to my inner geek.

'I had copied old photographs in the past but there was something magical in this little collection that needed to be seen on a grander scale.'

Ronnie explained: 'The technical part was to be sure that all the detail in the faded areas of those old 'snaps' were capable of being reproduced and the old magicians of the camera from those bygone days didn't let me down.

'Combine the staggering detail of the original negatives and subsequent prints with the processing possibilities of the digital era and we get what was a night of absolute wonderment on the faces of all that attended the Bracken Court opening of the Exhibition.'

He said: 'I've been to many photographic exhibitions in my time but never have I seen the visitors spend so long seeking out the minute details in every single picture.

'Everyone there had something to add to growing pot of information available to the Historical Society on the who and what and where of each photo.

'Let's just say that we knew a lot more at the end of the evening than we could have ever hoped for.'

Ronnie concluded: 'It was a real honour for me to be part of an exhibition that gave so much pleasure to so many local folks and hopefully will continue to do so when these historical gems finally find a permanent home.'

Fingal Independent

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