Whilst scanning through the local paper this morning an upcoming exhibition in the Droichead Arts Centre caught my eye; an exhibition of photographs from Ireland, including the Boyne Valley, taken by two French female photographers Marguerite Mespoulet and Madeleine Mignon in 1913. They were part of a wider project financed by French millionaire banker and philanthropist Albert Kahn to photograph and film various different cultures around the world. What made these records stand out as opposed to other collections was the fact that they are in colour; Kahns' photographers used the new technique of autochrome, invented in 1903 by the Lumiere Brothers and the worlds first true colour photographic process.
So we end up with wonderful pictures such as this Galway girl in all her traditional Claddagh finery:
Photographs such as this are not only an invaluable document of Irish culture in their own right, but also remind us that our forebears did not exist in a black and white world, one that we are accustomed to seeing in other photographs and films.
Collections like these are also important as they are documents that can act as an immediate reminder of our past and all of the changes through to today. The numerous photographs of Drogheda down through the years serve to remind us how much our town has changed. For long-time residents, it can be easy to forget the historical buildings, the medieval layout of the streets and lanes, the importance of the town in Irish history as a whole; when you see St. Laurences Gate every day you can fail to notice it after a while. It becomes a sort of historical blind spot. People have other things to worry about in their daily lives than old buildings and local history this is true, but these buildings and customs and local speech are what makes us different and standout, & forms our own identity that's not linked to anyone else. The ancient town informs the new and by extension, its inhabitants.
The local aspect of the collection features scenes from the Boyne valley and the surrounding area, with coracle, or currach, makers featuring prominently. On our Facebook page we recently featured a very interesting short film on the making of these vessels, here's the link to the page to check it out: Drogheda Millmount Museum Facebook. The exhibition in the Arts Centre, running from 27th June-31st August, will feature not only the photos but also talks, screenings and workshops for children. Definitely a date for the diary.
Droichead Arts Centre link: The Boyne Valley in the Albert Kahn Collection (1913)