In this digital age, it seems that everyone who picks up a camera is instantly a “photographer.”
And, true, many amateurs are pretty good, but the flip side of the coin is those gifted photographic artists like Tim Durham from Co. Westmeath, whose work shines head and shoulders above most. Tim, a professional photographer since 1989, has a unique outlook on life and an interest in many aspects of our world that hold no sway with most people or with other photographers.
Tim has a particular interest in architectural interiors and, in 2006, he photographed the last month of The Irish Times newspaper in its former offices on D’Olier Street in Dublin. He also photographed Shackleton Mills in Lucan in 2009 and Tara Mines for a show at the Solstice Arts Centre. He is also interested in architecture, landscapes, and almost anything else his artistic eye sees.
Tim’s beautiful photographs from Shackleton Mills, formerly known as the Anna Liffey Mill, are currently on display in Dublin at The Irish Architectural Archive, 45 Merrion Square, and they illustrate how a building reflects and records the activities and lives of those who once worked there.
In this case, nearly two centuries of milling and millers from the water-powered flour mill are represented by rollers, sifters, ovens, weighing scales, silos, and vacuum tubing. After the millers, the building was used for a decade as a warehouse to store school desks, wax cauldrons from the Rathborne candle factory, auction lots of books in banana boxes, and a display board for the Blanchardstown Brass Band.
In 2002, the Fingal County Council bought the old mill and plans to create an industrial heritage and visitor center for the Liffey valley.
The Irish Architectural Archive in Dublin is an independent company that collects, preserves, and makes available the records of Irish architecture – from the earliest to contemporary structures.
If you are in Dublin between now and December, do stop by the Architectural Archive to see Tim’s magnificent images. The exhibit is open Monday to Friday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. For more information, visit iarc.ie/exhibitions or Tim’s website at timdurham.ie.
Some of his many other interesting projects include a photographic study for the Kells Town Council based on the town of Kells and the Island of Iona and their connection with St. Columbkille and the Book of Kells. He is also working on a project for Westmeath County Council on the history of social housing there.
Tim also teaches art documentation and leads photo workshops. I met him many years ago when my son and I took a photo workshop in Donegal Town. He’s a great teacher and his workshops are a lot of fun and extremely worthwhile.
MUSEUM OF COUNTRY LIFE
If you’re near Castlebar, Co. Mayo, you might want to catch the exhibit at the Museum of Country Life in Turlough Park that features watercolors by Sampson Towgood Roch depicting town life in Ireland in the early 19th century. The works offer a rare glimpse of everyday Irish life at the time.
Artifacts, similar to those in the paintings, accompany the watercolors. The exhibition is on loan from the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum and runs until November.
An exhibit called “Safe Secrets: the Story of the Coggalbeg Hoard” opens Oct. 21 at the museum. The exhibit features an important hoard of Early Bronze Age sheet gold work found in a bog at Coggalbeg, Co. Roscommon, in 1945. The gold work was placed in a safe at Sheehan’s pharmacy in nearby Strokestown in 1947, but in 2009, there was a break and the safe was stolen. After an intensive investigation by the Irish police (An Garda Síochána) the gold was recovered in a Dublin dumpster. The exhibit will be on display at the Museum of Country Life until next summer.
In addition to special exhibits, the museum has a great gift shop with interesting books and gifts for sale, and the café offers seasonal meals and snacks, including freshly-baked goodies, specialty teas, and coffee.
The museum, which is well worth a visit, is open from Tuesday through Saturday, 10 a.m. to 5 p.m. and Sunday from 2 to 5 p.m.
There’s almost nothing more “Irish” in my opinion – or more fun – than the assorted country fairs held across the country in the fall.
A couple of my personal favorites are the Ballinasloe Horse Fair, reputedly Europe’s oldest international horse fair, held this year from Oct. 1-9 in Co. Clare, and The Maam Cross Fair in Connemara scheduled for Oct. 25, at and around the crossroads by Peacocke’s Hotel.
The Ballinasloe Fair runs for many days and is really fascinating. There are all kinds of vendors on the town’s streets there and all sorts of competitions and all kinds of farm animals and it’s just a great fair to attend.
To me, the Maam Cross Fair, which I’ve attended several times, is the essence of Connemara and it’s on a Tuesday, Oct. 25, this year. I love walking among the vendors, people and animal watching. It’s fun!
Again, there are all kinds of vendors and local farmers selling excess produce as well as Connemara ponies, cattle, sheep, and other animals. I’ve seen geese, ferrets, puppies and goats for sale at Maam Cross.
The Connemara fair apparently stems from the tradition of local farmers selling their surplus produce at the crossroads to supplement the living they managed to eke out from their rocky soil. The fair is a major event in Connemara, and this year there will be trophies and cash prizes for best filly and colt from registered parents, along with the cup for best pony. Horseshoeing demonstrations and a horseshoe throwing competitions are included in the many attractions planned for this year’s event.
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If you aren’t a fan of country fairs, there are many other types of festivals planned for Ireland this month.
For instance, the Wexford Opera’s 60th festival season will run from Oct.21 to Nov. 5. Check it out at wexfordopera.com. Tickets are already extremely limited, so don’t tarry.
Other festivals include the Dublin Theatre Festival (dublintheatrefestival.com) and the Belfast Festival (belfastfestival.com) that is held Oct. 14-30.
Then there’s the Guinness Cork Jazz Festival (guinnessjazzfestival.com) from Oct. 28-31 and gourmands worldwide will want to mark their calendars for the 35th Bollinger Kinsale Festival from Oct. 7-9. Kinsale, as you probably know, is touted as the “Gourmet Capital of Ireland.”
For more information about what’s going on in Ireland this fall, visit Tourism Ireland’s website at discoverireland.com
No matter when you choose to travel, you couldn’t pick a better destination than Ireland. Enjoy your trip there whenever and wherever you go and don’t forget to check the internet for the latest airline and ground travel specials. And, visit discoverireland.com for the latest in news about Irish happenings.