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, 26 June 2015

Anniversary of JFK visit

This week marks the anniversary of President John F. Kennedy’s visitto Ireland in 1963. It was the first state visit to Ireland of a US president during his first term in office, by the first solidly Irish-American and first Catholic president of the USA, so Ireland wanted to make her visitor proud of his heritage.

The Irish Photo Archive released a digital book on the Kennedy visit entitled President John F. Kennedy Visits in 1963, featuring all our special and unique photographs of the occasion. It is available on the iTunes Store, and can be downloaded or gifted to somebody on the opposite side of the planet within seconds. To access the digital book, click here.

Kennedy came straight to Dublin from Berlin, where he had addressed the crowds at the Berlin wall, making his famous ‘Ich bin ein Berliner’ speech. The visit to Ireland, in contrast, would be an occasion of mostly pleasure for the president, relatively free of political engagements but packed full of opportunities for his legendary charm to shine through.

As the Kennedy motorcade wound through Dublin’s city centre on the way to the Áras from the airport, the affection the Irish people had for their visitor was obvious to all. Over 80,000 people were estimated to have gathered on O’Connell Street alone, with more lining the streets along Westmoreland Street, Dame Street, and down along the quays to the Phoenix Park.

Kennedy made a call down to the homestead of his ancestorsin Dunganstown, Co. Wexford, where his aunt Mary Ryan greeted him with a kiss on the cheek. The Ryan family had laid on afternoon tea for Kennedy, who had brought his sisters Jean and Eunice with him, as well as his bodyguards, advisors, the ambassador to Ireland and a pack of reporters and cameramen (and it was virtually all men in those days). But, despite the scrum surrounding Kennedy, only the Lensmen photographer managed to get inside the cottage for the more intimate family reunion.

Another poignant occasion during the Kennedy visit occurred when he paid homage to the executed 1916 leaders at Arbour Hill. This was another first achieved by Kennedy, as he was the first foreign head of state to pay his respects at this memorial garden and therefore the first to acknowledge their role in establishing an independent republic. It was also where Kennedy saw the 36th Cadet Class under Lt Frank Colclough performed the Queen Anne Drill, or the Funeral Drill, intended to honour the dead.

Kennedy seemed spellbound while the drill was going one, and later commentated on their performance. Later, when back in the US and reminiscing about the trip, he said his highlight was the ceremony at Arbour Hill and that “those cadets were terrific”. He asked for a film of the drill be made, so that it could be performed by the US ceremonial guards at the Tomb of the Unknown Soldier. The cadets were to perform the drill once more for Kennedy, and far sooner than anybody had anticipated, when Jackie requested that the cadets be flown to Washington to perform at Kennedy’s funeral.

After the Arbour Hill ceremony, Kennedy was taken to Leinster House where he would address both houses of the Oireachtas. After Kennedy had signed the visitor’s book – a new Heads of State visitor’s book - he entered the Dáil Chamber with Seán Lemass, James Dillon and Brendan Corish, the leaders of the three main political parties in Ireland: Fianna Fáil, Fine Gael and Labour. This was the first time a foreign leader would address both Houses of the Oireachtas, and also the first time television cameras were allowed inside the chamber.

On Kennedy’s return to the States, he spoke often about his time in Ireland and how much he had enjoyed his visit. He had planned to come back on a private holiday with his family, but was killed in Dallas five months later. His death sent shockwaves throughout the world, but was particularly devastating to the Irish, who still had precious memories of the young, vibrant man that had charmed the population during his three days here.

All photos available @ Irish Photo Archive.

Friday, 19 June 2015

The Louth 1957 Senior Football Championship Final team

The Irish Photo Archive were in attendance at the Louth Agricultural Show last weekend on Sunday, 14 June. It was a great day out at Bellurgan Park, with fantastic warm sunshine all day long. The crowds at the show seemed to be having a great time, and had so much entertainment to choose from: trade stalls, livestock judging, horse-riding, the Bonny Baby competition, Best Dressed competitions, and the IWW wrestling ring.

The parade ground for the dog shows was just beside the Irish Photo Archive's stand, and we had a great time all day long seeing the variety of dogs brought along by their proud owners, from a tiny Chihuahua dressed in pink to a humungous St Bernard and Great Danes, as well as a few whose breeds were less specific, shall we say.

As usual, the Irish Photo Archive had a selection of our most popular images for sale at the show, in both A3 and A4 sizes. We'd love to have all our images with us, especially when people look for something specific, but it would be difficult to bring all 3.5 million of them with us! Even setting up a computer in the middle of a field can be tricky!

But one of our images in particular grabbed a lot of attention on the day, but not for the reasons we would like. We had brought a framed photograph of the Louth line-up in the 1957 football final to the show, thinking it would be of interest to people there. We soon discovered how well-informed locals are about their football teams when they were able to tell us our caption was wrong. One helpful man called Jim Thornton gave us the correct line-up for the team. (If anybody knows him, please pass on our regards to him again.)

The disputed 1957 Louth team.
22 September 1957

So here is the line-up according to Mr Thornton:

Back row (from left): Dermot O'Brien, Jim McDonnell, Ollie Reilly, Tom Conlon, Seamie O'Donnell, Sean Óg Flood, Don O'Neill.

Front row (from left): Kevin Beahan, Stephan White, Frank Lynch, Peader Smith, Sean Cunningham, Patsy Coleman, Jim Roe, Jim Meehan.

(Not in this Photo): Jim McArdle, Jackie Reynolds, Jim Judge, Alf Monk, Barney McCoy, Mickey Flood, Aidan McGuiness, Jim Quigley.

If you want to dispute this line-up, and think a player has been misidentified, we would love to hear from you. We try to make our captions as accurate as possible, but we are working with caption sheets, diaries and other documentation that can be up to 60 years old and in handwriting that's not always very clear. So if you do see a mistake in one of our captions - whether it's the wrong person named, a misspelt name, an incorrect location - please do get in touch on

A sample of the caption sheets we work with.

Friday, 12 June 2015

Fergus Rowan vs the banks

The recent furore over the IBRC and the sale of Siteserv to Denis O’Brien brought to mind the struggles of Fergus Rowan against Bank ofIreland in the 1970s. However, while O’Brien benefitted from the operations of the IBRC, Rowan saw himself as the victim of actions taken by the Bank of Ireland.

Fergus Rowan during his sit-in
22 August 1975
Irish bank officials went on strike in 1966, 1970 and 1976, with work stoppages lasting for a total of one year. The longest consecutive stoppage was in 1970, when bank officials went on strike for six months. Many officials moved to England during this time to work there, and returned to a wage increase after strike negotiations hammered out a deal.

The general public did not fare so well, though. Cheques became an essential part of life in an economy without access to a banking system. But as the work stoppages continued, cheques began to run out. People began to innovate and create their own cheques on envelopes or the backs of cigarette packets. Storing the cheques became a real burden for business-owners, as they had to be protected until the strike ended, but accepting cheques was the only way to maintain customer loyalty and trade during this time.

Sadly, when the banks and clearing houses finally opened again, it was discovered that many cheques were worthless – they were fraudulent and bounced. A lot of businesses suffered losses as a result, some to such an extent that they went out of business, e.g. Palgrave Shipping.

Rowan teaching his children to stand up for their rights
22 August 1975
The Rowan family business also ended up with several ‘bad cheques’. Their seed and nursery firm, which had been in operation for generations, went into receivership. But it was when the site of the business was purchased that Rowan finally saw red. Their shop had been in a prime location in College Green in Dublin’s city centre, across from Trinity and right beside a Bank of Ireland branch. BoI bought the site, allowing them to extend their branch.

Rowan and several other angry customers became a well-known presence in the AGMs of all the major Irish banks, changing what had previously been a relaxing day out for the directors into a public hunt for accountability. Rowan took his battle a step further by holding a sit-in at theBoI branch to draw attention to how the banks had destroyed the livelihoods of many small businesses like his own. He managed to retain occupancy of the branch for three days, and garnered a lot of media attention. Crowds of supporters gathered outside alongside his family, though some of his childrenmanaged to slip inside and sit it out with their father.

Rowan being served with a court order to vacate the building by court official Paul Harman
 with the bank manager as a witness

22 August 1975

Fergus Rowan died in 2008, aged 85. Hopefully, he was spared seeing the destruction brought on Ireland once again by the banks and their policies. On the other hand, it would have been great to hear his opinion, which no doubt would have been as critical of Anglo, the bail-out, the IBRC and the Denis O’Brien injunction as he was of the striking bankers four decades ago.

All images available @ Irish Photo Archive

Friday, 5 June 2015

Visit by the Monaco Royals

In mid-June 1961, Prince Rainier of Monaco visited Ireland along with his wife, Princess Grace. While all visiting royals are given the VIP treatment, the presence of the Irish-American actress formerly known as Grace Kelly whipped media and public excitement into a frenzy.

Grace’s Irish connections were well-known in Ireland, and were a source of pride at a time when Irish-Americans seemed to be grabbing the reins of power in all arenas – JFK being the most obvious example. So when the beautiful young princess landed in Dublin, she was indeed presented with a thousand welcomes.

The royal couple arriving at Dublin Airport
10 June 1961
After the arrival, the royals were taken straight to Áras an Uachtaráin, where they were greeted by President De Valera and his wife, Sinead. The next day included a visit to the National Stud Farm and attendance at the opening ceremony in Croke Park of the Dublin International Festival of Music and Arts, by which time the couple had learned to wrap themselves up well for an Irish summer.

On Monday, the royals spent the morning at an art exhibition in Brown Thomas on Grafton Street before attending separate functions in the afternoon. Princess Grace visited Crumlin Hospital and the Sacred Heart Home for Orphans on the Drumcondra Road. Her own children, Albert and Caroline, were due to arrive that night, but Grace mentioned them to the children on several occasions.

Princess Grace leaving Brown Thomas
12 June 1961
That night, events turned a little sour when a crowd waiting outside the Gresham Hotel on O’Connell Street became difficult to control. A banquet was being held in the royals’ honour in the hotel, but the guests of honour and political figures like Lemass had great difficulties in getting safely through the crowd. Even after everyone had entered the hotel, the crowd remained until Princess Grace made an appearance on a balcony to wave to them.

The crowds outside the Gresham waiting for Grace
12 June 1961
The next day, Albert and Caroline were taken to the Áras for their introduction on what would be the last official day of the family’s state visit. But the Grimaldis would stay in Ireland for another four days, transferring to the west coast for the remainder of their holiday. This allowed Grace to visit her ancestral home, meet several of her relatives and visit Croagh Patrick. The royals did not climb the mountain – Grace’s white suit would not have been the most practical outfit if that had been their intention – but they did pay homage at the first station at the base.

Princess Grace at Croagh Patrick
15 June 1961

This visit to Ireland would be the first of many for Princess Grace, both official and unofficial, as can be seen by the number of times she appears in our archive. She became an important patron of the arts in Ireland, and the people of Ireland always had a lot of affection for her and her family. Her tragic death was mourned deeply across the country, just as had happened when JFK was cut down in his prime. But, when the Grimaldis stepped off the plane in 1961, her glamour and beauty seemed immortal.

All images available @ Irish Photo Archive