Ireland c. 1955

Travelers in rural Ireland circa 1955

I’ve been sorting out – a better word would be curating – the remains of Uncle Harry’s slides.  I’m interested in them mainly as photographs – composition, style and choice of subject and, to be honest, some of them aren’t that interesting. However, I do like the ones illustrating aspects of life in rural Ireland in the mid-50s (probably 1955) – real people going about there daily lives – that’s interesting.

Ireland c. 1955

Turf cutter

The pictures originated as hand-processed, hand bound slides which have aged, discoloured, been inherited, scanned and photoshopped.

Slide processing is more complex than standard processing – it depend on something called “reversal” – you process a negative and then “reverse” it to make a positive – something that, from memory, involves exposing the film to light part way through the process. They were taken by my Uncle Harry – a keen photographer who had a darkroom in his attic. He is in a couple of the photographs, with his wife, Aunty Ida, thanks, I suspect to the use of a timer.

Ireland c. 1955

I’m only the latest (and last) curator, but these images have been the subject of selection since before the light hit the film. There’s the choice of subject – many are clearly posed and even looking at the camera and the style is very much of the time; the limitations of film photography – film is finite and choices have to be made and the risk that something may go wrong. Once you’ve got your slides, there may be a further process of selection – that one’s a bit out of focus – this one isn’t up to standard. Since Uncle Harry died, they’ve been through various hands – many will have been thrown away (this is a shame because my uncle and aunt cycled extensively throughout Europe).

My act, as last curator, has been to select those that interest me or might be of interest to other, scan them and throw them away.

Was it worth it?

Ireland c. 1955


See the full collection on Flickr Ireland – c. 1955 (Uncle Harry’s slides) – you don’t need a Flickr account to look at these pictures

I’m fairly confident about the date, although some may be slightly earlier or later and reasonably confident in identifying most of the scenes as Ireland, although one or two are more tentative and I am happy to be corrected.