Monday, October 22, 2012

A Blasht from the Pasht

In the 1950s I went on a school trip to Armagh city. As usual I had my camera with me. Well, on this occasion it wasn't my camera. I had one on loan from cousin Ciaran. Mine was a bellows 116 camera and pretty conspicuous. His was a neat little 16mm which took two shots for every conventional 35mm frame, so you got over 60 shots per roll of film.

In August 2004 I put up a web page describing my trip. At that time I had free hosting from Tripod, but only 2MB for the whole site. So I optimised my pictures like mad, both in size and resolution. I ended the page with a general shot of the city from the Cathedral steps. It was even fainter than the version of it above, and you can clearly see from the blockiness of the sky how much it was optimised.

Anyway, there the matter rested until this morning (2012) I received an email out of the blue from a chap called Marc. He had come across my page and was particularly interested in this photo which he said showed his house. He wondered if the photos were my own and, if so, might I have a larger, better resolution, shot so that he could see how his house looked in the 1950s.

It was a long shot, in more ways than one. But I managed to come up with the negative and scanned it at a massive 2400ppi. You can see the result above and the house is clearly visible on the far side of the road, opposite the Cathedral gate. It is a listed building. It was built, towards the end of the nineteenth century, by an industrialist as his town house, and he also built the 31 houses behind it for his workers.

This (above) is what it looked like at full size. (Click on the image to see it at max.) Marc was thrilled and showed it to his mother who told him something he didn't know. There had originally been an iron railings outside the house, but this had been taken away and melted down during WWII. In the meantime a wooden fence had been put in its place and that remained there until about 1955. You can see the fence in my photo. So he learned something new and I got a better dating on my trip and photos.

I am always telling people, particularly those who are following up their family history, that they should have a presence, however minimal, on the web. That way people can find you and you never know what they might be bringing to the table.

So, thanks a lot Marc. It's been a busy morning.


Póló said...

The building next door, on the right, was built before the Cathedral itself but it is now going down the Swannee.

It was bought by a developer who wants to demolish it and build a huge complex on the that site and the adjacent filling station site which they own.

The tiles were removed from the roof in 2007 and the building is now subject to creeping demolition. The local authorities are either unwilling or unable to intervene.

An absolute disgrace.

not-a-saint said...

Hi Pól,

It was a great coincidence finding your photos on the internet and very kind of you to get back to me when I contacted you. You just never know what the day brings and who you might meet in life (or even on the net) and how things evolve from that. I learned about your school trip to Armagh and a bit about you and you learned a bit about our family home called "Cathedral View" and the "Sherry’s of Armagh".

It was nice of you to look out the original negatives and write a blog about our connection with Armagh.

You are right about the white house next door No. 6 Cathedral Road, Armagh. It was built between 1761-1835 and our house, a listed building was built much later in 1885.

Since the new developer took over Kearney’s filling station in Armagh around 2006, she has put in numerous planning applications to demolish this white period house and to replace it with a 2500sq ft (235sq m) SUPERMARKET, OFF-LICENCE, FLATS, ATM-MACHINE and build further SHOPS and OFFICES on the site behind and to the side of this building.

Not really something you would expect just 10m away from the main Cathedral gates as the Cathedral is one of the most important tourist attractions in Armagh.

Neither the "fat cats" from the Cathedral, nor Cardinal Seán Brady seem very bothered at the moment, but the late Cardinal Cahal Daly was very annoyed about it, as it is a disgrace to let such a beautiful and historic house fall into such disrepair and it is also very disrespectful to all the families who’s funerals leave the Cathedral grounds to go to the cemetery as they have to pass this house.

I have linked your blog to my Armagh online album:


Póló said...

Thanks Marc and good luck with your campaign.

Anonymous said...

Good find - and heartening to see how such treasures can help today.