Tuesday, August 02, 2016


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This competition is now over and this post traces it from beginning to end. I have amended the post to bring it up to date (17/2/2017). There were five clubs entered in the clubs category and each got a month's exhibition. This was followed by an exhibition of the finalists and included those from the individual (non-club) category.

There was a set theme for this year's competition: Remembering 1916. This can be interpreted as loosely as you like and looking at the first club to exhibit, the Howth photo club, there is no shortage of ingenuity and imagination out there.

I am starting this post with a some shots which appealed to me from this first round.

Anyway, to the business. Why did I pick these particular photos? What was it that appealed to me?


The opening shot above is from a re-enactment of the Rising. I like the black and white and then the colour in the proclamation. Clery's in the background is also evocative as it was destroyed in 1916 and has recently been wrecked again, this time by the vultures.

The printing of the proclamation was a story in itself and much ingenuity was called for to get the finished product onto the streets. Having had an Adana hand press in my day I'm a sucker for anything to do with the old style printing where each individual letter had to be set up. I can nearly smell the ink looking at this photo. And I like the upside down "I" in the word RISING which I take to represent the many imperfections in the finished product on the day.

A standard posed shot but here counterpointing 2016 and 1916 as a young boy reflects on the fate of an ancestor, a member of the Citizen Army, killed during the Rising.

And finally, that element of 1916 that had been ignored by nationalists for most of the century since, the battle of the Somme in the latter half of 1916. I had an uncle killed in a High Command cock-up there in September 1916 and I'm glad to see this aspect of the times coming to the fore.


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This could have been a very conventional shot but it isn't. I like the quirky composition with the heads behind the papers. And full use is being made of that wonderful series of archive material The Revolution Papers which will be continuing publication up to the end of the year. Today's Miriam Lord adds her own quota of quirkiness.

I think it was an Italian squadron which actually provided this tricolour at the end of the day. But it is a fabulous shot and reminds me of the 1966 Vampire flypast at the GPO.

This apparently casual shot has many layers of meaning, at least for me. The GPO is the backdrop but it is the layman and not the nun who is collecting for the poor who were supposed to have gone by now. But what of this rare religious bird? What does she do for a living. Educate, rehabilitate or just pray? Not forgetting the wee ad for the visitor centre which includes a 1916 museum.


Some interesting entries this month from the local photo group.

A few personal favourites below.

We might as well start with a bang. There are a lot of features in this photo which might escape the casual observer. You need just the right light, a convenient puff of wind and a good sense of positioning at the very least.

This is a very creative shot of the Children of Lir in the Garden of Remembrance in Parnell Square (just in case you were wondering). The sculpture itself is a beautiful piece of work but quite hard to photograph with any originality. The use of black and white adds a touch of the ethereal and the grotesque.

My first reaction to this one was "What the hell has this got to do with 1916?". Then I noticed the columns and realised that it was a view FROM the Custom House. Very clever.

Then I wondered "What had the Custom House got to do with 1916 other than look down on the Helga shelling the city centre?". But what I didn't know, and just checked out, was that 200 prisoners were held in the courtyard during the Rising without food, water or any treatment for their wounds.

And there must have been other people who knew the score, as these variations (above and below) attest. Nice thinking here and proof that, to the photographer, no source is inexhaustable.

This one made me smile. Maybe it's a bit on the cheeky side. But beautifully taken, right down to the water drops.

This one is not as easy as it looks. The idea is good and maybe not entirely original. I've tried it myself without success. Angles and lighting are very tricky and this shot has captured it all.

This is a particularly dramatic shot and must have been captured in the depth of a wet night to get that degree of abandonment.

This is a very creative photo which relies on some clever post-processing. The location of the Connolly statue limits very much the angles from which it can be taken. It is very hard to get any sense of depth or space with the rear wall so close to the statue and the traffic in front. It is almost like trying to photograph Connolly crossing the road among today's buses and cars. This is a beautiful piece of work.


This month it's the turn of my own local club.

There were fewer entries this month than previously, though there may be more to come as the Bank Holiday intervened.

Some shots that struck me are reproduced below and I'll just make some general comments at the end.

Overall, I had difficulty seeing the link between 2016 and 1916 in some of the photos though I may have been missing the subtleties involved. I was glad to see that again this month's club had not forgotten the Somme and I was also glad to see some black and white entries.


While this photo is clearly a re-enactment of 1916, it has an added dimension in its controversial backdrop honouring the constitutional thread in the struggle for home rule, which backdrop was shamefully removed following protests from those whose version of Irish history is a begrudging one.

I also like the relatively high black and white content in this month's exhibition.

I'm not sure how much symbolism is intentional here, but for me it is a very provocative photo and all the better for that.

I like the composition in this photo. It suggests lots of movement and is not shot from the usual angle. Unfortunately there is another similar photo in this month's exhibition.

Unfortunately my reproduction here doesn't do this photo justice. But it caught my eye for something of an abrasiveness or shrillness about it.

This representation of Frongoch is of a section of a ceramic panel showing various features of the camp site and its environs. I have to declare a particular interest in Frongoch and its surroundings and this photo caught my fancy.

I'm not sure how the connection with 1916 works here unless it is the funeral of a well known rebel. I note the undertakers are Masseys who have laid many of my family on the Ma's side to rest. I like the photo for its sense of dignity in death without overdoing the macabre.

The Swords Viewfinders are exhibiting their entries up to the end of December.


The final exhibition in this year's competition has now gone up. It consists of the ten finalist images from each of the clubs' entries and also the ten finalist images in the public category. That makes 60 pictures in all in the final adjudication. That will take place on the evening of 16 February 2017 when the prizes will also be presented.

I'm not going to say too much about this particular exhibition as most of it comes from material covered above and I have entered the competition myself and am still in the running.

The Clubs

Many of the photos I have reproduced above have gone on into the final as have many others.

My own favourite is the one above. It shows great imagination and makes great use of two commemoration exercises, The Revolution Papers and a current newspaper supplement. It shows a good sense of humour and is well composed. Let's see if the judges, whoever they may be, agree with me.

The Individuals

Again I have to compliment Michael Edwards for introducing this new category in the centenary year. It is clear from his shop and Facebook page that he is interested in promoting photography among the wider public and this is a great incentive for people to jump in and click.

This is the new centenary wall, so to speak, the finalist images in the public category. I think it was probably planned for this category to have its own exhibition, as did the clubs, but between on thing and another, including Christmas and Santa, the programme fell behind schedule. I suspect the clubs may have been getting a bit impatient for the final adjudication. In any event the public category went directly into the final phase.

You can see from that display that the images covered a broad range of 1916 related locations.

This one evokes what must be a unique event. A non-combatant wife shot in Ringsend during the Rising while her husband perished on the Western Front on the same day. She died from her wounds a few days later. He fell in Hullach, in Northern France, where a German gas attack poisoned 385 members of his regiment. One thing we have learned during the recent commemorations is that the Rising cannot be considered in isolation from WWI, and I was glad to see that theme taken up in a number of entries.

Clerys also figures in a number of entries. It is a searing comment on what has not been achieved by the Rising or the State which followed it, when staff could be turfed out into the street while the moneybags scuttled off with pocketfulls of dosh gained from a disgraceful financial wheeze. The tattered tricolour says it all.

16 February 2017

And so the great moment finally arrived. The judge had a good pedigree and we were all anxiously awaiting the outcome. Kay's café were lining up the refreshments and the prizes were out on display. Some very handsome bronze plaques commemorating individual Proclamation signatories and some medallions commemorating all of them.

Unfortunately Kyran couldn't make it to the presentation but he had done his adjudication and the prizewinners in the overall clubs category had little rosettes beside their exhibits.

So it was up to Michael to do the honours, and we were all on tenterhooks to see who was the overall winner of this prestigious competition.

The Clubs

And the well deserved winner was Pat Carey from St. Benedict's Photo Group, the local club in Donaghmede.

Pat later posed proudly with his winning shot, which was one of those I had picked out at the Benedict's exhibition (above) as a favourite.

And just to let you have another look at it in all its glory.

Pat was actually the first person I met when I arrived on the scene last night. He told me I had embarrassed him, but fortunately not mortally! It turned out that the nine favourites I had picked out of the Benedict's entries for inclusion above had all been his. Seems like we both have good taste when it comes to photography.

The Individuals

I had a few shots riding in the individual category, but when I checked out that category I didn't see any rosettes on the wall, so I was a bit disappointed. Then I noticed that cards had appeared on three of the entries since I last saw them and I assumed that these were the prizewinners in that category. None of them were mine.

As it happened, Michael started with this category, though I missed him saying that. He started praising a photo for its simplicity, relevance, and natural lighting and I was trying to figure out which one that was when it turned out to be the one below, Seomra 1916.

I was thrilled as this was one of mine and it turned out I had won the individual category in the first year of its existence as a separate category.

I have been taking photos since the 1950s and this is the first time I ever won anything in a competition.

You can get the backstory on the photo here.


I'm glad to report that, again this year, Raheny did well on the prizes front.

Anne Nathan

Anne Nathan with another lily, and this one is bleeding.

Dom O'Brien's lady with a rifle in one hand and a mobile phone in the other.

A special prize for Sharon Hughes's look back to Joseph Plunkett through a modern child's history homework and two different generations of letter, one on paper from Joseph to Grace and one on a mobile phone referring to the homework.

And I'm in Raheny myself.

Next Year

Finally, Dermot announced the theme for the next (2017) competition, Our Town - what makes where we are from special.

I would just add a general qualification/apology to any of the photographers who may be looking at their own photos on this post. There may be slight variations in lighting and perspective from the originals as I photographed the exhibits on the wall under the prevailing lighting and in some cases had to do a little post-processing to get back as near to the original as possible.

Thanks to Michael Edwards and the Howth, Sutton, Donaghmede, Raheny & Swords Photo Clubs for allowing me to reproduce the images

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