IRISH PHOTO ARCHIVE

Welcome to Irish Photo Archive where Irish historical images and documents have been made available for you to purchase online.

We sell historical, archived images from every day Irish life as well as significant events in the country’s history.

From an archive of over 3.5 million images you can see the many significant characters that visited Ireland over the years. Have a look and enjoy!

Friday, 30 January 2015

Ben Bulben

One of the Irish Photo Archive's most popular images is this photograph of BenBulben, with a farmer working his field with his horse framed against the mountain. And it was a photograph that was only taken by taken by chance.

View of Ben Bulben
25 April 1957
The photograph was taken by Andy Farren, one of the founding members of Lensmen Photographic Agency. He was on his way either to or from WB Yeats’ grave at Drumcliffe Church, which lies within the shadow of Ben Bulben. Perhaps it was Yeats’ verse that inspired the photograph:
“Under bare Ben Bulben’s head
In Drumcliff churchyard Yeats is laid.
An ancestor was rector there
Long years ago, a church stands near,
By the road an ancient cross.
No marble, no conventional phrase;
On limestone quarried near the spot
By his command these words are cut:
Cast a cold eye
On life, on death.
Horseman, pass by.”
The image has been posted on our social media sites and shared numerous times. But it was thanks to the traditional media that we found out the identity of the farmer in the photograph. It was used by the Sligo Champion to illustrate a piece in their newspaper, and the farmer’s family recognized their father and grandfather. His name is Tom Stewart, Munninane, Grange, Co. Sligo, and it was his granddaughter Emer Woods that got in touch with the Archive to let us know.

This photograph was in the same box as the photographs from the Ballinasloe Horse Fair, which also include some fabulous shots. If you want to find out more about those photographs, check out our previous blog entry, GoWest to Find a Horse.


We love to hear comments from people about our photographs, especially if you can correct the information we have, or provide names or extra details on the people or places featured. The documentation behind the Archive is extensive but many details of the ordinary people were not recorded. So if you also see somebody you recognize, please get in touch on irishphotoarchive@gmail.com.