I knew my friend, Gerry Smith, was into photography. I have seen some of his prints over the years, but not that many. We have lost touch in recent years, save for occasional contact. I knew that he was working on a Blurb book of some of his old work, and this evening he sent me a link to the book on Blurb and a youtube video of some select pieces. I have to say that I was blown away by the work, it really is excellent.
The work depicts Dublin in the 1980’s, and while I remember it murkily from my childhood, the photographs really represent a town from another time. Gerry says in his introduction
During the early 1980’s in Dublin, the inner city area was enveloped with half demolished buildings, unkempt sites and a general sense of disregard for the architectural heritage of the city. This was a manifestation of the overall depressed economic condition prevelant within Ireland at the time.
The wider richly layered social, commercial and architectural heritage represents the ‘soul’ of the inner city, which has developed over the centuries to establish the core of Dublin as unique in the qualities of scale, diversity and character of place.
The inner city on both sides of the River Liffey encompassed a rich diversity of uses and architectural quality, some of which have been regrettably lost to ‘development’ oppotunity, however the refurbishment of some areas has helped preserve and enhance much of the original quality of Dublin’s historic buildings and cultural content.
Some of the market activities that have survived to this day albeit in revised formats include the Moore Street market, the Smithfield Horsefair and the Dublin Corporation Wholesale markets on St. Michan’s Street also in the Smithfield area.
Many of the places captured in these images have become unrecognisable over the years due to redevelopment, however this collection provides a view of some of that which served us well for decades, but no longer remains.
While Gerry discusses the changing architecture of the city in his introduction, what really grabs me is the people in the photographs. The older men and women in particular, but also the children, are from another time and place – somewhere in the past, in history books, no longer present. And yet I need to remind myself that the children in the photos would have been a similar age to myself at the time – it’s not quite the ancient past!
I haven’t seen it in printed form yet, but this looks like a beautiful book that will appeal to a wide audience, not just to Dubs and the Irish.