A new TG4 series about the birth of photography in Ireland will take its focus to Kerry next Monday, November 16, for what promises to be a truly fascinating programme.
In the series 'Tríd an Lionsa' presenter Pádraic Ó Neachtain delves into the stories behind six iconic images that played a singular role in the country's social, political and cultural past.
Next Monday, the fourth programme in the series 'Gap Girls' brings Padraic to Kerry, where he speaks to local guide Con Moriarty and photographer Don MacMonagle, about a series of seven striking images taken of young Irish girls in the Gap of Dunloe in the late 1800s.
The girls are photographed barefoot, backed only by a rock face, and the images prompt some unsettling questions. What was the photographer's motivation in taking the photographs the way he did? And why did he chose these girls, who eked out a living selling poteen and goat's milk to tourists, to be his subject?
The seven images also play a part in the story of Killarney's fledgling tourist industry and the arrival of stereo photographs. The 3d effect images had a big impact on the numbers of Victorian visitors visiting the town, lured by the untamed, spectacular scenes they witnessed through stereoscopic reproductions. As the tourism industry boomed, so too did all the myriad side industries created by Irish people trying to eke out a living in any way they could find.
By the 1890s the girls had begun to sell postcards of themselves, thus cutting out the middle man and exploiting their image for their own gain.
Also contributing to the programme are Patricia O'Hare, archivist Muckross House, Killarney and Johnny McGuire of Bricín Restaurant.
Episode four of Tríd an Líonsa 'Gap Girls' airs on TG4, at 8pm on Monday.