Dubliners (2007 - 2013)
Dublin has a special ‘home from home’ vibe for me. I learned the art and craft of photography here between 2007 - 2013, taking classes and spending countless hours in the darkroom at the Gallery of Photography. My Dublin of 2007 was very different to today. At the tail-end of the Celtic Tiger, Ireland was living in style. There was massive investment in the city and its infrastructure; in business, the low corporation tax was beginning to attract the American tech giants; the border was open, and a large migrant workforce was settling; and, night after night, there were parties, packed restaurants, live music, street performances, and endlessly flowing booze. While rents were high and most were therefore relatively poor, the overarching vibe was a sense of fun and freedom. Anything was possible.
What’s particularly noteworthy about this period is the transition of conservative Ireland to a very modern country, and Dublin as a world-class city. Tradition meshed with modern to create new ways of doing things. I lived in the middle of the city centre, and assembled a very international group of friends, many of whom are featured here - Spanish, Polish, Italian, Brazilian, Argentine, Dutch, French, Belgian, Canadian, and of course, Irish. We embraced local culture with gusto. There was the Dun Laoghaire Festival of World Cultures, the arrival of the Tall Ships on the Liffey, trips up and down the coast on the DART, the most important date in the year, St. Patrick’s Day and, naturally, the pub. Everything was celebrated, especially public holidays, which were usually extended, greatly anticipated, and accompanied by blow out parties.
There are also several pictures here of my monthly trips to the Smithfield horse market, a fair for buying and selling horses, slap bang in the city centre. This could be a distressing event, with clearly abused animals, and loutish hawkers. I have many more photos, which I may collect into their own gallery at some point. Also featured is the Foggy Dew, my beloved local in Temple Bar where we danced to fiddles, spoons and bodhráns; the characterful brick warehouses of Grand Canal Dock, later bulldozed to make way for high-end apartments; and the U2 Wall on Hanover Quay, now also sadly departed.
These photographs are mostly portraits, and mostly shot in film. The energy of the city stands out as I bring together my work in six landmark years. The images here shriek with laughter, rattle with music and rhythm, and pulse with life and sheer happiness. These were some really good times.
Back then, Flickr was the photographic platform of choice, which was more raw than the perfection that Instagram demands today. Many of these images featured in my now deprecated Flickr gallery, which I used while evolving my style. It’s not until the pictures are grouped together that they begin to create a narrative of that era.