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'Small Lives' Exhibition Captures Irish Childhood From Long Ago
An exhibition capturing images of Irish childhood from 1880 to the 1970s is currently on display in Dublin. The exhibit, which has run since the end of August, is called ‘Small Lives’ and features fifty photographs drawn from the National Photographic Archive. The photos display over eighty years of the trials and tribulations of being a child in Ireland. Mostly in black and white, the images range from children of the upper classes taken in the 1880s to more candid shots of city kids taken in the 1960s. Take a look at a selection of these captivating images.
The National Libray of Ireland describes the exhibition which runs at the National Photographic Archive in Temple Bar until June 2012.
The 50 photographs – mostly black and white – are drawn from across NLI’s collections, and range from formal studio portraits featuring children of the landed classes taken in the 1880s to more candid shots of city kids taken in the 1960s.
Small Lives shows Irish children not just in the context of their own lives but also in the context of Irish history, incorporating major events such as Michael Collins’ funeral in 1922, the Eucharistic Congress in 1932 and the Arranmore Disaster in November 1935 – events which were an important part of 20th century Irish social and political life.
As well as photographs, the Small Lives exhibition features a number of illustrations dating from the 1830s. These illustrations, housed in NLI’s Prints and Drawings Department, demonstrate how children were depicted before photography. They show how line drawing could suggest movement – something which photography could not do in the 1800s, when the technology was still in its infancy.
During the War of Independence local people believed that a miracle had stopped Templemore from being completely destroyed. Around 15,000 people a day came to pray at the statues outside Dwan’s shop.
Pictured outside their school in Connemara, Co Galway, these children are being shown a Froebel’s “first gift” which was a tiny ball attached to a string. Froebel’s gifts were coloured shapes designed to teach children through touch and play.
Photographed in 1963, these two girls are shown collecting turf.
This snap of children skipping rope was taken outside the Ballymun flats in north County Dublin. The flats were built in 1966 as part of a plan to move families away from tenement life.
This photo shows a tightly packed classroom of 44 boys in Waterford in 1902.
Titled ‘A place to read’, this photo shows a boy sitting in a tea chest in the busy Cumberland Street market which is still held every Saturday in Dublin.
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