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!

Tuesday, 30 September 2014

The Kingdom is Back

After a five year barren spell Kerry on the weekend before Kilkenny took the all-Ireland Hurling final won a 37th title at Croke Park. In a tightly fought match in which Donegal hit the post in the dying seconds while going for goal, which would have levelled the contest, the men from the Kingdom overcame the tournament favourites and ensured the return of Sam to its Kerry 'home.'

With a new manager and a team considered to be in the rookie division, few gave the Kerry men much chance when they set out on their challenging journey to Croke Park. However with some help from the Donegal keeper who had a disastrous day between the sticks this Kerry side edged in front and held on to secure victory.

1979 Kerry all Ireland winning team.


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Monday, 29 September 2014

The X-tractor

Charlie Keegan and co at the Ploughing Championships, Kilmacanogue, Co. Wicklow,
17 July 1962
It’s a very scenic rural picture – a young boy in short trousers sits on the back of his father’s tractor as he is ploughing. In the distance, you can see the gentle rolling mountains, and the cloud-covered sky. Then you notice the three men in suits, and wonder if a film noir gangster flick took a wrong turn when changing locations.

Instead, it is the singular Charlie Keegan at the Ploughing Championships in Kilmacanogue, Co. Wicklow in 1962. The little boy is his son, Alan, looking very proud of his father’s skills. And so he should, because two years later Charlie would go on to win the World Ploughing Championship in Austria, a feat not repeated by a competitor from the Republic of Ireland for another 30 years.

Though sophisticated modern readers may find it amusing, the winning of this title was considered a big achievement at the time. Charlie was met at the airport by enthusiastic crowds and he and his Golden Plough trophy were carried shoulder-high from the plane into the terminal building.

Charlie Keegan arriving home with his Golden Plough,
4 October 1964
The very same tractor as seen in this photograph once again took pride of place at this year’s Ploughing Championships. Charlie’s grandson, Michael, had led the charge to restore the Deutz D40 tractor that had won the world title. He had managed to source the original tractor not far from his family home, though he had to go to England to source parts for the exact model of plough that Charlie had used. If you want to find out more about the story of the restoration, you’ll find all the details on the Waterfall Farm blog. 

Apparently, the next project for Michael is the restoration of the D15 tractor Charlie was presented with by Deutz after his triumph. Once again, the Lensmen photographers were present for this even, as were Charlie’s two sons. This tractor is now also sitting in Enniskerry, crying out for a lick of paint. Maybe both Keegan tractors will be present at the 2015 Ploughing Championships, perhaps inspiring a new generation of grandchildren to keep the legacy alive.

Presentation of the D15 tractor, 15 December 1964

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Tuesday, 23 September 2014

The evolution of ploughing in Ireland

In 1952, there were 286,000 draught horses working on farms across Ireland. By 1975, that number had dropped to less than 4,000. Horse power had been well and truly harnessed by Henry Ford and Harry Ferguson.

1952 was also the year the Lensmen Photographic Agency was set up by Andy Farren and Padraig McBrian, the first independent press agency in Ireland. The agency were in a unique position to chart the progress of Irish agriculture from hard manual labour to a high-tech mechanized process. And these changes have been preserved for posterity by the Irish Photo Archive as we digitize the Lensmen negatives.

So, for a brief outline of the evolution of ploughing in Ireland, see below.

1. Working by Hand
Human being started cultivating the land by hand many thousands of years ago, and the practice still continues in some parts of the world to this day. It was often necessary in difficult terrain, such as on the rocky land of Connemara. And it was in Mayo that the incredible Céide Fields have been discovered, demonstrating how farmers have worked to develop the best possible soil on their land for generations. This image captures farmers in Carna, Galway, eking out a living from their meagre topsoil.

Carna, 14 May 1959

2. Horse Ploughing
Ploughing with horses made the task easier, but it was still a laborious task. Ploughing an acre field was equivalent to walking eleven miles. Somebody had to walk behind the horses, manipulate the plough, and keep the furrows as straight as possible. The blades could not go too deep, or the physical strain could cause serious damage to the horses.

Ploughing at Stoneyford, Co. Kilkenny, 5 July 1953

3. Vintage Tractor Ploughing
The first tractors may have seemed a luxury at the time, but they are a far cry from the hydraulic cabs drivers sit in today. In fact, cabs were considered unnecessary, leaving the farmer still exposed to all the weather conditions though some tractors had flaps that diverted heat from the engine back to the driver if the wind was blowing in the right direction. It was Henry Ferguson, of Massey Ferguson fame, that invented a hitch that allowed the tractor’s power to be channeled properly by the plough, but the most ploughs were still single-bladed.

Tractor demonstration of the Monarch, distributed by Lincoln & Nolan,
26 March 1953

4. Conventional Ploughing
This involves ploughs with two or three blades, and was pulled by a 2 wheel drive tractor. Cabs were starting to become more popular around this time, though springs in the driver’s seat still seemed to be considered frivolous. The blades in these ploughs were also easily damaged through contact with stones, so many farmers’ children spent long evenings walking the fields and removing stones in preparation for the ploughing.

Deutz tractor demonstration at Collinswood, Co. Dublin
4 April 1960

5. Reversible Ploughing

These are the high-tech monster tractors that roam the country these days, with ploughs that can cover up to 8 furrows in one sweep. The driver can sit in an air-conditioned cab on a comfy chair, hook an iPod up to the surround-sound system and sing along to a favourite Bon Jovi CD while whizzing through a task in hours that would have taken days just one generation earlier.

Monday, 22 September 2014

Red Cross photo exhibition

The Irish Red Cross are celebrating their 75th birthday this year by dipping into our archive to help remind us all of their achievements so far.

With the assistance of EuropeDirect, an exhibition of Irish Photo Archive prints featuring the Irish Red Cross entitled “A History of Humanitarian Action” was installed upstairs at the Blanchardstown Library on Friday, and is open to all visitors.

Irish Red Cross National Competition, 21 June 1958
We all know the Red Cross is one of the first organisations off the ground whenever a disaster strikes anywhere in the world, but national branches also work within their own communities too. Its members provide ambulance and rescue services, create information booklets for home carers, and organize activities for youth groups across the country.

The Irish branch of the Red Cross was set up in 1939, just in time to deal with the ravages of the Second World War on Europe, the ‘Emigration Decade’ that was the 1950s, the trauma of the Troubles in the North – not to mention numerous floods, storms, and other tragedies.

Some of the images picked by the IRC from our archive include a presentation of the President’s Cup, Princess Grace visiting children at a Red Cross party in Dublin Zoo, and simulation of emergency situations for training purposes.

Part of the Red Cross exhibition at Blanchardstown

The IRC have been in operation for so long it is easy to take their work for granted. Hopefully, this exhibition will make people reflect on the amount of time, effort and energy the 5,500 Irish Red Cross volunteers pour into the organization each year, and have been doing for the past 75 years.

Not so Bonnie Scotland

Last week the Scots by way of a referendum decided not to sever the country's links with the UK. The outcome saw a rise in tensions in Glasgow which had voted yes for an independent Scotland in the referendum.

The scenes of street disturbances were reminiscent of similar type outbreaks in the North of Ireland, where over the years union flag waving protestors were a regular feature in news footage.

9 June 1963
Soccer International: Ireland v Scotland at Dalymount Park Dublin. Ireland won the game 1-0 with a goal from Captain Noel Cantwell. Cantwell v the rest! But in this case the rest were too strong for Cantwell (right centre) to convert a corner kick into a goal.

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Thursday, 18 September 2014

Seán O’Casey

Most people that have gone through the Irish second-level educational system in the past couple of decades will be familiar with the works of Seán O’Casey. His plays still feature on the Leaving Cert syllabus, and the vibrancy contained in the writing has by no means faded over the years.

Cyril Cusack and Siobhan McKenna preparing for Cusack's production of 'Juno and the Paycock',
17 June 1956 
This week on 18 September marks the 50th anniversary of O’Casey’s death. He was never a person willing to pull his punches or compromise on his beliefs and, as a result, he left behind a complicated legacy. Over the years, as the power in Irish society shifted away from the church and civil war politics, it became possible to appreciate O’Casey’s plays from a more neutral standpoint.

O’Casey was born in Dublin, and witnessed first-hand many of the scenes of poverty made famous by his trilogy. He was a committed socialist, and a personal friend of Jim Larkin also. He was also acquainted with WB Yeats, who was instrumental in having O’Casey’s plays staged at the Abbey, despite their controversy at the time.

A scene from 'The Plough and the Stars' at the Abbey Theatre,
19 April 1955
This relationship with Yeats and the Abbey came to an end when they rejected The Silver Tassie. O’Casey took the play to London’s Apollo Theatre, and he remained living in the city for the rest of his life with his wife Eileen, whom he had met there.

O’Casey continued to write prolifically, even producing an autobiography in six volumes. His own anger and bitterness towards the socio-economic environment in Ireland and the resulting conservatism is more than evident in these books, but so is his innate talent as a writer.

If you would like to read some extracts from his autobiographies, the East Wall for All website are publishing an extract every week this year. Feel free to come back here and post the sentences from the extracts that struck you underneath this post.

Wednesday, 17 September 2014

Oh Bonnie Scotland

With Scotland preparing to turn out at the polls tomorrow to decide on the future of the country opinion polls are calling it close but with a slight lead going the way of the No camp.

For Irish rugby fans the outcome will not make much difference. They can still relish the thought of their side scrumming it out with the Scots fighting for their national pride, independent or not.

Scotland's international rugby team in advance of the Ireland v Scotland, Five Nations, Landsdowne Road, Dublin, Ireland, Saturday 22nd February, 1964

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Monday, 15 September 2014

Death of Ian Paisley

Ian Paisley's death at the age of 88 has for many observers brought to a close a chapter of the North's deeply troubled society.

It would be no exaggeration to claim that Paisley was the alpha and the omega of the North's violent political conflict. He was central to the street disturbances in the 1960s which wound up the clock. However, one of the main criticisms levelled at him throughout his political journey was that he was never actually there when the clock eventually struck.

He incurred much international opprobrium after protesting against the pope in Strasbourg shortly after his election to the European Parliament.

In 2007 Ian Paisley after a long turbulent career became First Minister of the North with Martin McGuinness serving as his deputy. 

Dr Ian Paisley in the Supper Room of the Mansion House, Dublin during his prayer meeting. 24th September, 1978

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