I follow this wonderful website, Wistorical.com, on Facebook and when old pictures of Ireland are shown, I am amazed at how beautiful the faces are, and I am also saddened at how tough life was in Ireland in the not so distant past.
The face of an older lady, in Galway, sitting at a spinning wheel, is languid and calm, but her eyes are so sad. The photo is colorized, and part of a collection published as postcards by the Detroit Photographic Company.
The Sheep and Wool Heritage Center in Leenane, Connemara in County Galway is a great way to see how sheep and wool and spinning played an important part in the history of the west of Ireland.
If you can’t wait to get there and buy some of their original wool products, you can shop online and have your hat, gloves, scarf, whatever you’d like, delivered to your door, all the way from Leenane!
There is another photo of women sitting on the floor sorting through tobacco leaves at the Lambkin Snuff and Tobacco Factory in County Waterford.
Who knew that tobacco was grown near Adare Manor in Limerick? Not me, that’s for sure. And in addition, who knew that a tobacco factory would later be used by a family called Lyons to make tea?
Rough work though, sitting and stripping, whirling or doing whatever else needed to be done to tobacco leaves to make those leaves smoke worthy.
The photos are beautiful, a window into a bygone era, and a reminder that we don’t have it too bad today. I am glad that someone had the wherewithal to record those stories and photograph those faces, before they were lost forever to us.
I purchased two books by Turtle Bunbury, who is responsible for Wistorical.com. The Vanishing Ireland series is a lovely collection of those faces from the past, each face has a story to go with it. Worth buying, definitely.
A second book that I purchased is Margaret Hickey’s Irish Days, which offers more details about its subjects. Anyone with ancestors from Ireland would love these books.
Anecdotal, funny, and a detailed historical record of what life was like in Ireland for those that have come and gone before us.
If you have Irish origins, go beyond The Quiet Man and read what life was really like in Ireland in the last two centuries.
It wasn’t an easy life by any means, yet these people smile. They had what they needed, I suppose, and appreciated life for the little pleasures it brought.
March 17th is only a few weeks away. Why not connect with your Irish roots, don’t just leave it until Saint Patrick’s Day. Vanishing Ireland and Irish Days, brush up on you ancestors and their history.