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Photos from the 1970s tell the stories behind the people at Limerick's Milk Market

The photographs are of merchants, traders, children and characters of Limerick’s historic quarter between 1971 and 1978.

PHOTOS TAKEN AT Limerick’s Milk Market in the 1970s form part of a new exhibition launched by the National Library of Ireland today.

The ‘Shaped by History’ exhibition by award winning social documentary photographer, Gerry Andrews, consists of 95 black and white portrait photographs, some of which measure seven feet high, of the community of merchants, traders, children and characters of Limerick’s historic quarter, taken between 1971 and 1978.

Limerick Milk Market

The stories behind the photos are also told through the exhibition.

This is the only Limerick City of Culture event to take place outside the city of Limerick and is a collaboration with Limerick City of Culture, Limerick Milk Market, Limerick’s Hunt Museum and the Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht.

29 The Tin Whistle Player National Library of Ireland National Library of Ireland

Andrews says the tin whistle man called himself a “travelling musician”. Nobody knew his name or hometown.

He was uncomfortable with small talk and unwilling to engage in conversation. His reluctant audience wished his vow of silence extended to his tin whistle! The noise that masqueraded as music penetrated the ear drums of those nearest to him. Their squirming features clearly showed a lack of appreciation for the musical talent of this tall stranger. The few coins in his shoebox were the measure of his competence…

016 The Animal Lover The National Library of Ireland The National Library of Ireland

The photo above is of a young boy holding two scruffy dogs. Andrews describes the circumstances where he took the photo:

The boy sat nestled in a doorway with his animals around him. His broken boots indicated that money was scarce. The tears flowed freely down the young lad’s face, and he was inconsolable as he stared into space. Much to his horror, and to his father’s delight, the two turkeys that sat beside him had just been sold. The lad refused to accept the obvious fate of the festive birds and ignored the frustrated pleas from his older brother to ‘stop whining’. He embraced his two shaggy dogs with obvious protection, fearful perhaps that they might also be for sale.

035 Limerick Milk Market The National Library of Ireland The National Library of Ireland

The photo above was taken at the Limerick Milk Market where customers could buy turkeys, have them killed and plucked as it was “all part of the deal”.

003 Old Moll The National Library of Ireland The National Library of Ireland

This photo of Mary White, better known as ‘Old Moll’ was taken when she was close to a hundred years old. Andrews says:

She was a quiet woman and a creature of habit. She had no family or friends and kept her distance from her few neighbours, but they were there for her when she needed them. Every Friday, Pat O Neill drove her to collect her pension from the Post Office. Once collected, she indulged herself in her only source of pleasure: a pint of Guinness followed by a glass of whiskey…

‘Shaped by History’ exhibition opens today at the National Library of Ireland’s National Photographic Archive, Meeting House Square, Temple Bar, Dublin 2.

Admission is free and the exhibition is open seven days weekly: Monday to Saturday 10am to 5pm and 12 noon to 5pm on Sundays. The exhibition runs until 4 January 2015.

Read: This nanny died before her incredible secret photographic talent was revealed>

Read: A bicycle, a wheelchair and Maxwell House coffee – snapshots of the last years in the Big House>

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