Images of Limerick have struck an emotional chord

Anne Sheridan

Reporter:

Anne Sheridan

IMAGES of Limerick in the 1970s which have captured people’s attention from as far away as Hawaii and the Solomon Islands will go on display in Limerick for the first time next week.

IMAGES of Limerick in the 1970s which have captured people’s attention from as far away as Hawaii and the Solomon Islands will go on display in Limerick for the first time next week.

Limerick born photographer Gerry Andrews, 59, will hold his first solo exhibition of work, entitled Shaped by History – Limerick in the 1970s – in the Hunt Museum next week.

It will be opened by the Minister for Finance Michael Noonan on Friday, June 8, at 6pm, and will be dedicated to the photographer’s late wife June. For decades, the black and white images of Limerick lay in his vault, but after recently being unearthed and featured in the pages of the Limerick Leader, the reaction they have received have taken him by storm.

“I didn’t expect that it would get this big. I’m just astonished by the amount of interest from all over the world. I’ve had emails from people from Hawaii and the Solomon islands, so many different places that I’ve lost count. There’s interest in all the pictures, but people’s main source of interest – regardless of where they’re from – seems to be in the Limerick photos,” he told this newspaper.

Some of the images featured in the exhibition – predominantly taken around the Milk Market – measure up to four feet in size, while a banner measuring eight metres by four erected outside the Hunt is sure to capture the public’s attention over the coming week.

Mr Andrews is also trying to identify the people he photographed all those years ago, as many of the images are without captions. “I would love to get the stories behind the pictures and know what became of these people, and what they did with their lives. It was a time of significant hardship and many people have forgotten what it was like in the 70s. That was the real period of austerity,” he said. The acclaimed photographer, who has taken pictures all over the world, struggles to understand why the Limerick images in particular have struck a chord with so many people who have never even visited Ireland or Limerick.

Perhaps, he says, it’s because they symbolise people’s “romantic notions of Ireland”, which no longer correspond with the images tourists see in any Irish city. “This has been a great walk down memory lane for me; it has been quite nostalgic and emotional at times.” The exhibition will run until September.