Exhibition offers great chance to see Dublin in the rare auld times

by Padraig Conlon

If you are a fan of all things historical then a photo exhibition featuring Dublin in the rare auld times should be right up your street.

‘Ireland in Focus: Photographing Ireland in the 1950s’ features striking images of Dublin in the 1950s taken by professional photographers Henri Cartier-Bresson and Dorothea Lange.

Since opening in November at the National Museum of Ireland in Collins Barracks, the exhibition has proved very popular with visitors.

Featuring several photos from various locations across Dublin, including St Stephen’s Green and Custom House, the exhibition looks at images from three photographic collections created during what is generally regarded as one of the most challenging decades in 20th-century Ireland.

The exhibition features 50 images by Henri Cartier-Bresson, considered the most important photographer of the 20th century, of which 30 have never been exhibited previously.

There are also 20 images by renowned American photographer Dorothea Lange, taken in Dublin and Co Clare in 1954, and 30 by Robert Cresswell, an American anthropologist who was based in Paris, who lived in Kinvara, Co Galway, during 1955 and 1956 and took over 400 photographs in the area.

Henri Cartier-Bresson was considered the most important photographer of the 20th century.

A pioneer of street photography and photojournalism, he was on assignment from Harper’s Bazaar magazine when he visited Dublin in June 1952.

He returned later for a holiday in October 1962 and travelled throughout the country during both visits.

His images include landscapes, street scenes, portraits and public events, and this is the largest number of his images to have been displayed in Ireland.

Dorothea Lange is a renowned American documentary photographer whose portraits of displaced farmers during the Great Depression greatly influenced later documentary and journalistic photography in the United States.

Dr Audrey Whitty, head of collections and learning at the National Museum of Ireland, said the exhibition provides a rare insight in the Ireland of the 1950’s.

Ireland in Focus: Photographing Ireland in the 1950s” is open to the public in the National Museum of Ireland in Collins Barracks until the end of April.

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