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Caught on camera: leaders, soldiers and ordinary people in a time of war

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  • Caught on camera: leaders, soldiers and ordinary people in a time of war

    Caught on camera: leaders, soldiers and ordinary people in a time of war

    The photographs of WD Hogan form a powerful record of the War of Independence and Civil War period, writes GENEVIEVE CARBERY

    VIVID IMAGES of ordinary people, as well as photographs of historic figures, including some revealing pictures of Michael Collins, are to be seen in an exhibition in Dublin which opened at the weekend.

    The “Witness to War” exhibition at the National Photographic Archive, Temple Bar, features a collection of photographs from the Irish Civil War and the War of Independence. The photographs by press and commercial photographer WD Hogan have not been displayed in public before.

    The pictures include many historic figures, such as Michael Collins, as well as photographs showing rank-and-file soldiers and the impact of war on ordinary people in Cork and Dublin.

    Hogan had the official sanction of Sinn Féin during the War of Independence and of the Army during the Civil War. For this reason the collection of photographs is arguably one-sided; however, organisers said it is an “undeniably powerful record nonetheless”.

    Many revealing photographs of Michael Collins are on display, including six close-up photographs taken in sequence of Collins speaking from a platform. Another shows him surrounded by women. Collins is also captured in a casual moment standing outside the Gresham Hotel on the night the Treaty was formally ratified by the second Dáil, on January 7th, 1922. He is shown arriving at the Mansion House during peace negotiations with British prime minister David Lloyd George.

    Days before his death a strong-looking Collins was photographed in uniform attending the funeral of Arthur Griffith at the Pro-Cathedral on August 16th, 1922. The picture was taken less than a week before Collins was assassinated at Béal na mBláth.

    There are many photographs of the women involved in the events of the time, such as the widows of Tom Clarke and Pádraig Pearse dressed in black as they attend a peace meeting at the Mansion House in 1922; or a group of ordinary women holding Rosary beads at a peace vigil outside the Mansion House.

    The photos showing the deprivation and suffering of ordinary people during the turbulent period stand out in the collection.

    One photo shows a barefoot boy holding a sword which has been salvaged from the ruins of Cork city barracks in 1922.

    Another image shows a woman standing outside the ruined remains of her cottage at Meelin, Co Cork, following a raid by the Black and Tans.

    The young faces of soldiers on all sides are striking: from a close-up of three Black and Tans in their mismatched uniforms, to officers on board the SS Lady Wicklow as it brings Free State troops from Dublin in 1922.

    The ruined streets of Cork and Dublin also feature prominently: Patrick Street destroyed by fire; an armed car on Henry Street, Dublin; and a photograph showing black smoke coming from the Four Courts after the building was taken by Free State troops.

    The exhibition also features handbills and posters relating to the Treaty and original letters between the photographer and the censor’s office.

    The collection was compiled by Capt Rev Denis J Wilson, chaplain to the National Army Forces. It was acquired in recent years by the National Library.

    Photograph: Michael Collins entering Dublin's Pro-Cathedral for the funeral of Arthur Griffith on August 16th, 1922; within a week he would be dead. Photographs: National Photographic Archive


    The photographs are on display at the National Photographic Archive, Temple Bar, Dublin.

    The exhibition runs until May 24th and secondary school students are particularly welcome;
    Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world. Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has. Margaret Mead

  • #2
    sounds like a very interesting exhibition of a pivotal time in our history.

    definitely going to drop in soon.
    An army is power. Its entire purpose is to coerce others. This power can not be used carelessly or recklessly. This power can do great harm. We have seen more suffering than any man should ever see, and if there is going to be an end to it, it must be an end that justifies the cost. Joshua Lawrence Chamberlain


    • #3
      Not going to get a chance to go. That sounds like a book waiting to be compilled- and I would definitely buy a copy if they did.