Unknown Woman in Ireland 100 Years Ago

In recent days I have been browsing through old photographs of Ireland that are now online. 100 years is a long time, and yet when I see 1913 I think about my father’s birth date, January 1928, and it doesn’t seem like such a long time ago. To see color photographs of Ireland in 1913 makes 100 years seem even less of a distance from today.

Irish girl in the Claddagh in Galway May 1913. Picture from Old Color Photos of Ireland blog

Irish girl in the Claddagh in Galway May 1913. Picture from Old Color Photos of Ireland blog

The Old color photos of Ireland blog has some fantastic photos that make you realize the people in the photos are REAL people, with no shoes, dirty feet and well worn hands from hard work.

The color in the photograph on the left is vivid, and if I could get my hands on that scarf that she is wearing!

This girl is probably not even twenty I would guess. I wonder if she wore shoes in the winter? I wonder what the life expectancy  rate was back then?

There’s no doubt about it, she is living a hard life, and yet she smiles for the camera. Don’t show any signs of suffering on your face, don’t let the world know that times are hard and maintain an air of respectability. Or maybe that isn’t what her smile portrays at all? Maybe she really is content, maybe she is happy with her lot in life. Somehow though I doubt it.

Irish girl in Claddagh, County Galway. May 1913 Picture via Old color photos of Ireland blog

Irish girl in Claddagh, County Galway. May 1913 Picture via Old color photos of Ireland blog

Here she is standing at the cottage door. The smile is gone. This is a more natural pose I think. She’s looking off into the distance and her eyes search for something or someone.

According to Turtle Bunbury, who brought us the beautiful Vanishing Ireland books, with his photographer friend James Fennell,

“In May 1913, Marguerite Mespoulet and Madeleine Mignon, two French women in their early 30s, arrived in Co. Galway, armed with heavy cameras and, more importantly the Autochrome Lumière plates, which enabled them to produce the first colour images of Ireland.”

The photographs are allegedly the first color portraits ever taken in Ireland. I am glad that Marguerite Mespoulet and Madeleine Mignon took pictures around Galway in 1913. It brings the past to life. Color adds expression and emotion to the photographs. Wouldn’t it be wonderful if someone knew this girl’s name? It might even be your grandmother, you’d never know.

Here’s one more picture from the Old Colour Photos of Ireland Blog. Visit the blog for more pictures of men with the old coracle boats, Irish cottages, Clonmacnoise, and Melifont Abbey all in color and taken in 1913. Remember, in 1913 Ireland was still governed by England. Three years after these photos were taken the Easter 1916 Rising would begin the separation of both countries and result in Irish independence.

Mother of seven making fringes for knitted shawls, Galway, Ireland, 29 May 1913 Picture Via Old Colour Photos of Ireland Blog

Mother of seven making fringes for knitted shawls, Galway, Ireland, 29 May 1913 Picture Via Old Colour Photos of Ireland Blog

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5 thoughts on “Unknown Woman in Ireland 100 Years Ago

  1. [this woman was born Aine ui Conghaille in 1877 she married Michael o Toole and lived in the claddagh in galway .She died in 1952 and her grandson is Tommy H and you can contact him on.Hope this is helpful

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