Monday, 3 December 2012

Real Ireland?



As an occasional photo blogger,  I am conscious of the image I want to portray of Ireland or at least this small corner of it.  I am proud of our beautiful countryside, our rich heritage and culture, and I seek out images which  reflect this. 
But occasionally, this urge to post only picture perfect photos jars with reality and I question my self-censorship.
There is an Ireland which doesn't quite fit with the romantic images found in glossy travel magazines or the current marketing campaigns aimed at attracting visitors to 'The Gathering' next year. What is the real Ireland? What lies beyond the thatched cottages, the crumbling castles, the brightly painted pubs and the ubiquitous sheep?

The abandoned farmhouses which dot the countryside might look quite picturesque but they often tell a story of emigration, lonely bachelor farmers, family feuds or a simple lack of appreciation for the vernacular architecture.
Photographers are often drawn to scenes of dereliction and decay but I can't imagine this appearing on a Bord Failte poster.


The demise of the Celtic Tiger and the construction boom has left vast tracts of unfinished housing estates across the county, often in the most unlikely of places such as small villages which suddenly and un-realistically found themselves within the capital's computer belt.

Our town centres are dying,  not just due to the recession, but because our planning laws allowed the construction of shopping centres and out of town retail parks even though we should have learned a lesson from what happened across the water in the UK decades previously.
And there are those  who don't appreciate the beauty of our countryside and are unwilling or unable to pay bin collection charges,  not caring where their rubbish ends up.
Of course I know I'm going to feel unpatriotic when I push the publish button so it's a case of taking a deep breath and thinking 'publish and be damned.'

6 comments:

  1. Very true Mairead, theres a lot of gritty reality out there. Your photos tell a great story. Old abandoned buildings fascinate me. I would love to have the time and money to restore even one!

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  2. I think this subject should be addressed. Greed and lack of respect for age old culture has left many villages and towns deserted. It's rampant here in North America as well. Big Box stores move in and the small business' can't compete with the cheap prices. Walmart and Costco are fine examples. I live in a rural area where people dump their rubbish constantly. It disgusts me to know end. Thankyou for bringing these issues to light. Sometimes the truth hurts.

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  3. p.s I just ordered a book called 'Vanishing Ireland' by James Fennell and Turtle Bunbury. It's a photo journalistic into elders lives who are seeing 'their Ireland' disappear. Will let you know what I think.

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  4. I've seen that series Kerry and I'm sure you'll enjoy it - some wonderful portraits and insights into a changing world.

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  5. You're so right here Mairéad. We don't always show the full picture and I sometimes think people only want to see the fantasy but not the real Ireland. So good to read an honest post like this.

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