There was not a selfie in sight at the photographic exhibition at St Patrick’s Boys School this week. The boys and their female counterparts from across the road were engrossed in an old black and white photo of Fossett’s circus when I walked into the room.
Photographic historian Sean Curtin was giving the students a presentation on changes in photography. Glass negatives were being shown to students who may never have known even a film camera.
The photos stretching over a 100 years, from 1880 to 1980, are etched the history of St Patrick’s parish on the walls of the school.
Sports teams smiled through glass frames in victory and defeat, the Hurlers Bar stood as the lone building on the old Dublin Road, boys in short trousers played in lanes and identical twin sisters stared stony-faced out of a pram.
The exhibition, part of City of Culture, showed the changes in photography over the years to students, as well as giving them a lesson in the history of their local area.
Observant pupils noticed even the slightest changes in the pictures compared to the present day.
Some put their hands up to say that the spire had not yet been built onto the nearby church, while others identified the site where the school is now built.
Sean Curtin, whose latest book, Limerick, A Stroll Down Memory Lane, Vol 14, is on sale now, said he experienced huge changes in photography during his lifetime: “I have see it all, from glass plate negatives right up to the present technology.”
Even though the world is advancing at a lightning pace it is nice to know these children can look back and see humble beginnings.