Yes, Claddagh girl is slightly askew. Not the girl`s fault, nor the original photographer. But me, the person who snapped this photo at a recent exhibition.
The exhibition was based on the work of Albert Kahn. I was drawn by the chance to see true colour photography of the Ireland of 1913.
Albert Kahn was a wealthy banker and philantrophist. He believed that using the latest technology of the time to record the richness of cultures all around the world and to present them to others would help encourage peace in the world.
These pictures were taken in summer 1913, by two women involved in the Kahn project,Marguerite Mespoulet and Madeleine Mignon-Alba.
No, my technique for photographing photographs has not improved in this shot. But this picture is still worth seeing if only to get a glimpse at the life of the subject. She`s also in Claddagh and is fringing shawls for a living. The cloak worn by the subject was actually the last one in the Claddagh region. Shawls, such as worn by this lady, were more in favour by then.
This photograph was taken west of Galway in a place called Spiddal, Connemara. There`s a better copy of it here.How the men and women of Connemara survived is a mystery to me. It`s got more rock than grass and is constantly battered by Atlantic wind and rain. But if you look closely at the clothes on these men you`ll see they`re patched and ragged. The little boy is wearing a skirt but that was the way back then. Boys wore skirts til they were about twelve years of age.
This photograph shows the last of the cottage spinning wheels. Again, taken in 1913. It`s a sign of times passing and a little change to a place where everthing stayed the same for generations. See the abundant rock? yes, we`re in Connemara, Co Galway again for this picture. The cross over shawls and woollen skirts were again, the clothes of the peasant womenfolk.
One hundred years on, and I am grateful to be living in this century. Looking at those pictures, I am very sure that, if I were alive back then I`d be eeking out a living fringing shawls and trying to keep a clatter of kids fed.
Instead I`ve pressures of another sort.
Oh, I`m sure the weather chart for Ireland, wouldn`t look a whole pile different one hundred years ago. See, it`s piddling rain all along the south west and west coast? That`s Kerry and Connemara for you. But it`s pretty much fanning out in a wide sweep across the country. And pounding on my window as I type.
Thankfully, I don`t have shawls to fringe, or fish to fish, or potatoes to dig. But I do have a long slow run to take care of. And I hate to run in the driving rain.
Imagine putting off your fishing or potato gathering or shawl fringing just because of a piddly bit of water? No, I`m not as hardy as my ancestors.Maybe if I ran as if my life depended upon it, I might make more progress.