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, 24 April 2015

Does it beat Banagher?

On 10 April 1964, a Lensmen staff member, Steve Treacy, took this photograph of Clonony Castle in County Offaly. It was only taken 50 years ago, but it looks like another world with its donkeys and carts, the castle ruin in the background, and not a machine to be seen anywhere – unless you count the water pump.

Clonony Castle
10 April 1964
However, Steve was on an assignment to photograph scenes along the River Shannon, and just happened to pass by Clonony Castle between sites. As with many of our most popular photographs, and indeed many of the best photographs in general, the image was the result of an unplanned opportunity rather than a scheduled shoot.

 Clonony Castle is close to Shannon Harbour, where Lensmen photographed K Line Boats at work building a new craft. The founder of K Line Boats, Mr. George O'Brien Kennedy, was also photographed during this series. Mr O’Brien Kennedy was very influential in reviving the boating industry along the Shannon, and in turn providing an income for the population in the area.

K Line Boats, Shannon Harbour
Despite the ruin of the castle, there were also signs of progress in the area, as testified by the new primary school building, and the floating Shell station on the river at Shannon Harbour. The nearby Clonmacnoise was another homage to the past, but the beautiful bridge at Shannonbridge showed that a well-built structure can remain a living thing for a community.

The bridge at Shannonbridge
Offaly was not the only county visited by Lensmen on this trip, as the route of the Shannon was followed through Athlone harbour in Westmeath, Carrick-on-Shannon in Leitrim and Arigna near Lough Allen in Roscommon. The variety of activities directly connected to the Shannon was evident from the photographs taken on this trip. In Athlone, ‘floatels’ or floating hotels were waiting for holiday-makers to come and join them, in Ferbane in Offaly, the ESB energy station released warm waste water back into the river, in Carrick-on-Shannon, the locals depending on the river for their income also turned to it to relax during their leisure time.

Wouldn’t it be great to have a job that sends you on a jaunt along the banks of the Shannon, photographing crumbling castles and pleasure boats? I wonder how the scenes have changed over the past half century…

All images available @ Irish Photo Archive

Friday, 17 April 2015

O'Connell Bridge & O'Connell Street

This photograph of O’Connell Bridge and O’Connell Street from 1957 is one of our most popular images. It always grabs people’s attention as they browse through our collections, and is a snapshot of a city from another era.
The sparse traffic on the bridge allows the elegant design on O’Connell Bridge to be seen. Originally designed by James Gandon in 1791, the bridge was redesigned by Bindon Stoney in 1877. Stoney flattened the bridge and widened it to match the width of O’Connell Street, making the bridge almost square. The balustrades and ornamental gas lamps gave a Parisian air to the construction. These lamps were changed from the three-armed originals to single-armed lamps (which you can see in the photo below) and then back to the original design in the 1990s.
Unfortunately, this photograph was too late to record the large copper basin with plastic flames that was briefly placed in the central traffic island in 1953. The decoration did not last long before it was thrown over the side of the bridge into the Liffey. The art critics behind this act of sabotage have never come forward or been made public.

Nelson’s Pillar still stands tall and proud in the background, dominating the skyline, with the spire of Findlater’s Church in the distance almost like a reflection. A decade later, Nelson’s Pillar would no longer be there, and the gap would not be filled until the new millennium and the construction of the Spire.

Though perhaps it is the traffic itself that adds to the nostalgia of the image, with the mix of Morris Minors, bicycles with baskets and the sheer number of fedoras to be seen. The cigarette advertisements flanking the entrance to O’Connell Street are also a thing of the past, but have been replaced by other addictions.

If you remember the vista of O’Connell Bridge and Street presented by this photograph, we hope this little trip down memory lane brings you some joy this morning.

All images available @Irish Photo Archive

Friday, 10 April 2015

Our YouTube channel

Don't forget that the Irish Photo Archive have a channel on YouTube! We try to make compilations of our photographs on popular themes, such as sports or VIPs or 1950s Ireland. It can be an interesting way to explore our collection too.

Here are some examples of videos we have created:

The Beatles in Ireland:

Miss Ireland:

Ireland vs New Zealand

All the images you see in these videos are available as prints from our website, We hope you enjoy them!

Friday, 3 April 2015

Sweet memories of Easter

One of the great pleasures of working in the Irish Photo Archive is seeing people discover their parents or grandparents in one of our photographs. Sometimes it’s after they find the teamshot from the sixties or seventies when their father was in the county team. However, quite often people see a random photograph and realize that their family member was also captured along with the main subject of the photograph.

Another of those discoveries was made recently by one of our customers. Mary Headon discovered the picture featured here and ordered a copy, along with several more of the Urney Chocolates factory. Mary also got in touch with us to let us know that the surname of the factory owner was spelt wrong in our captions.

The Headon girls, dwarfed by the giant Easter egg for the ISPCC,
with their father and owner of Urney's Chocolates, Mr T. Headon.
23 February 1961
We appreciate people getting in touch to let us know about any mistakes like this in our captions, or extra information on people not named, as we are relying mostly on the handwritten documentation accompanying each negative. However, the selection of images Mary had chosen and her knowledge of the people in the photographs piqued our curiosity. Seán, our MD, wrote back to Mary to ask if she herself was featured in the photo.

Mary came back to us to say she was the blonde girl with the egg, and the other was her sister Barbara, who was always known as Bobby. If anybody remembers the Bobby bar by Urney Chocolate, it was named after Mr Headon’s oldest daughter.

Mary said she didn’t remember the giant egg or having their photo taken, as she was very young at the time. Despite this, the photo was particularly moving for her as her father, Thomas, died suddenly within a few years of taking the photograph. And sadly, Bobby has also passed away, so finding these photographs of them all together was a very poignant experience for Mary, but a great reminder of happier times in her family.

Monsignors visit the Urney factory in Tallaght.
Featuring Monsignor J English from Australia being shown around the premises by Mr Headon.
13 September 1962 

We hope the prints Mary received continue to be a source of happy memories for her, if they are a little bittersweet at times. It is incidences like this that show just what a valuable social resource the Irish Photo Archive is. We have many, many photos of VIPs, but we also have so many photos of Irish people going about their normal lives. Please continue to support the Irish Photo Archive, and spread the word about the work that we are doing. The longer we are able to keep digitizing the negatives in the archive, the more people will get to discover long-lost photos of their loved ones, just as Mary did.

All images available @ Irish Photo Archive.