Culture

The Sands of Time: Ireland Reeling in the Years

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Library of Congress Vintage Prints Provide a Window into the Past

We examine the impact of change on some of your favorite spots through the photographer’s lens.

  • Prints taken between 1890 and 1900 provide a window into Ireland’s past

  • Colorized images bring life to nostalgic scenes from a bygone era

  • Digitization has allowed a spectacularly curated collection to be made public

 

The Photochrom Process & Backstory

The heritage of some of Ireland’s favorite places and scenic spots has been reanimated and shared publically thanks to the wonders of modern technology. The collection features some breathtaking images from all four provinces sure to warm the cockles of Irish hearts and shutterbugs alike. The photochrom prints are colorized reproductions based on the original negatives shot between 1890 and 1900.

To celebrate these beautiful prints, IrishEmpire.org has hand-picked eight of our favorites and placed them alongside similar shots from the more recent past. We think you’ll agree that these Irish treasures have all aged remarkably well and look elegant at the end of any lens lucky enough to capture their beauty.

Carrick-a-Rede Rope Bridge in County Antrim

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The original bridge might struggle to pass a health and safety inspection but has no shortage of charm.

Perched precariously some 100 feet above sea level, this simple suspension bridge was first erected by salmon fishermen around 350 years ago.  Situated near Ballintoy in County Antrim, the bridge attracts thousands of adrenaline junkies and birdwatchers to savor its spectacular views of Rathlin Island, Scotland and the Causeway Coast.

Phoenix Park in Dublin

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Phoenix Park seems to be an eternal magnet for sunshine and tranquility.

Dublin’s Phoenix Park is one of the largest walled urban parks in Europe. Originally conceived as a Royal Hunting Park in 1662, it is today home to Dublin Zoo, Áras an Uachtaráin (the official residence for Irish presidents) and a herd of wild Fallow deer. It is a favorite public amenity for Dubliners open to visitors all year round.

Ross Castle in Killarney, County Kerry

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Ross Castle on the periphery of Killarney National Park looks like a home engineered to stand the test of time.

Ross Castle is a 15th-century tower house and keep on the edge of Lough Leane, in Killarney National Park, County Kerry. It epitomizes the type of stronghold built by Irish Chieftains during the Middle Ages. Originally constructed in the late 15th century, it was the ancestral home of the O'Donoghue clan. Nowadays, the site is overseen by the Office of Public Works and is open to the public seasonally with guided tours available.

Saint Patrick's Cathedral in Dublin

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Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is the largest church in Ireland with a spire reaching 140 feet to the heavens above.

Completed in 1191, Saint Patrick’s Cathedral is Ireland’s largest church. It exemplifies the Early English Gothic architectural style and draws its name from Ireland’s patron saint. The church is located adjacent to the site of the revered holy well where legend has it Saint Patrick baptized converts on his visit to Dublin.

Reginald’s Tower in Waterford City

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Waterford’s Reginald’s Tower has attracted everybody from the Vikings to Oliver Cromwell.

First built in 1003 as part of Waterford City’s defensive wall, Reginald’s Tower has been in continuous use for over 800 years. It is Ireland’s oldest civic building and also carries the distinction of being the sole urban monument in Ireland to retain its original Viking name. Down through the ages, Reginald’s Tower has been a mint, prison, military storehouse and museum.

Vale of Avoca in County Wicklow

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Tucked away in Wicklow’s Garden of Ireland lies the Vale of Avoca with its rolling hills and glorious vistas.

The Vale of Avoca is nestled away in the lush green hills of County Wicklow — The Garden of Ireland. It is the scenic confluence of the rivers Avonmore and Avonbeg. The riverbed is festooned with red stones thanks to its rich copper deposits and the picturesque village of Avoca was the base for Ballykissangel —  a popular BBC television drama in the 1990s following the escapades of a Catholic priest in a rural community. The area has also been an inspiration and muse for Thomas Moore, the celebrated 19th-century poet and entertainer.

Blarney Castle in County Cork

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Blarney Castle attracts up to half a million visitors per year hoping to inherit the gift of the gab.

Blarney Castle and its fabled stone represent one of Ireland’s greatest legends and tourist attractions. Leaning backward to kiss the Blarney stone is said to bestow the gift of eloquence on all those who honor this quirky Irish ritual. IrishEmpire.org recently sent Colin Carroll to unravel the mysteries behind this world-famous site and custom.

Glendalough Monastic Settlement in County Wicklow

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Glendalough’s Early Medieval monastic settlement was founded in the 6th century by Saint Kevin.

Set against the stunning backdrop of a glacial valley in the Wicklow Mountains National Park, this early Christian monastic site was founded by Saint Kevin of Glendalough in the sixth century. Apart from its religious importance as an ecclesiastical attraction and destination for pilgrims, Glendalough is cherished for its abundant wildlife, famous Round Tower and beautiful walking trails teeming with biodiversity.

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