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Lost Ireland: 12 photos that capture forgotten moments of Irish history

“It is an architectural fact of life that buildings, like people, come and go.”

EARLIER THIS YEAR, author, curator and Dublin Castle guide William Derham released a collection of photos which brings the reader through 100 years of forgotten Irish moments.

Through architecture and buildings, some of which no longer exist, Derham documents the changes in Ireland’s landscape.

The 500 images cover everywhere from Cork to Antrim – a ‘snapshot’ of the buildings of Ireland’s past.

“It will hopefully encourage us to be more aware of what has survived, and to think twice before we let it, too, disappear,” Derham says.

Drawing on a variety of photographic archives, the book features the humble mud huts of the transient labourer, the ‘thatched mansions’ of the prosperous farmer, the edifices of industrial innovation and technology, and the grand homes of the well-to-do, including the infamous ‘big house’.

“It is an architectural fact of life that buildings, like people, come and go…Sometimes the death of a building is sudden and unexpected, whether through accident or malice,” writes Colum O’Riordan of the Irish Architectural Archive in his foreword.

Sometimes it comes through the creeping decay of old age, and sometimes buildings are euthanised, pulled down unceremoniously in their prime to make way for something new.

“As with portraits of people, a certain character of each building resonates from the photographs; some we might regard as curious, some we might wish to have known better, some we might even be glad we never met.”

Here’s a quick glance at just a sample of what to expect from the collection: 

Dublin, pre-1916

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Elegant Metropolis: Upper O’Connell Street before the 1916 Rising.

Clare, c.1900

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People assemble on the Strand in Kilkee around 1900.

Cork, pre-1920

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City Hall on Albert Quay in Cork City on show.

Galway, no date

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Practical Innovations: The Salmon Weir in Galway City

Sligo, 1918

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Castle Street in Sligo Town around 1918.

Dublin, 1927

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Irish Civic Week on O’Connell Street Bridge in 1927.

Tipperary, no date

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Kilkenny, no date

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Belfast, 1941

Report compiled by the Ministry of Public Security on the air raids on Belfast and their aftermath 1941

The photo was taken after a blitz in 1941.

Waterford, pre-1960

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The Mall in Waterford City showing harbourside commerce before 1960.

Dublin, 1964

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The Public House: The Irish House on Wood Quay.

Dublin, pre-1970

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The Turkish Baths on Lincoln Place before their demolition in 1970.

Lost Ireland: 1860-1960 is available at Eason, in most good booksellers and on Amazon. 

More: Life, death and rock n’roll: 40 years of Ireland captured in photos

Read: A photographer has captured Ireland’s most stunning GAA fields

More: Working women, young soldiers and chemical warfare: A glimpse at World War II in colour

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