Treasures of Limerick past to get a new lease of life

Limerick Leader archivists Stephen Lappin, Kevin Tobin, Grainne Keays and Kelan Chadwick

Limerick Leader archivists Stephen Lappin, Kevin Tobin, Grainne Keays and Kelan Chadwick

  • by Alan English, editor

A MAJOR exhibition featuring 125 classic photographs from the Limerick Leader’s unrivalled archive will be staged at Shannon Airport early next year, when the paper will celebrate 125 years of publication.

The exhibition, From Limerick with Love, is being held as part of a collaboration with Limerick City Museum and Archive and Limerick School of Art and Design. There are hopes that it will be staged at a venue in the city later in the year.

A huge project which aims to digitize upwards of 30,000 photographic negatives from the 1970s in the Leader collection and make them available for viewing by members of the public has been under way for several months, another joint initiative with the Limerick City Museum and Archive. It is from this vast collection that the exhibition pictures are being chosen.

Taken by staff photographers through-out that eventful decade, they capture all aspects of local life as seen in the pages of Limerick’s paper of record.

Four local graduates – Kevin Tobin, Grainne Keays, Stephen Lappin and Kelan Chadwick –have already digitized thousands of images from what is by far the most complete photographic history of life in Limerick. The collection dates to the early 1950s.

Our archive team has uncovered many outstanding pictures which were never even published in the paper when first taken, as well as a huge number of negatives carrying real local significance which have been lying in filing cabinets for decades. The digitization project brings them back to life, to be enjoyed by generations of local people.

We believe this project is of immense local significance and the exhibition is the perfect way to highlight the treasure trove at 54 O’Connell Street.

Regular readers will be aware that in recent years the Leader has republished a huge number of archive photographs, which have proven exceptionally popular. However, only a small percentage of the collection has been digitized so far and we are delighted that – thanks to the endeavours of our in-house archive team, along with the expertise and enthusiasm of city archivist Jacqui Hayes and her team – major inroads are being made.

A key aspect of From Limerick With Love, which will open in March, will be the participation of 75 students from Limerick School of Art and Design.

Each will choose a picture from the exhibition and respond artistically to it, with the students’ artwork displayed side by side with the original photographs. From Limerick with Love is being managed by exhibition planner Anne Kearns, part of the Limerick City Museum and Archive team. Local historian Sharon Slater, who recently published her first book, is also lending her knowledge to the project.

The exhibition is being part-funded by City of Culture 2014 and is an official part of the year’s programme.

Shannon Airport, of course, has a long history with Limerick city. By placing the photographs and the students’ work in the airport we hope to portray Limerick in a positive light for the expected 760,000 visitors to the region over the six months of the exhibition, as well as highlighting the City of Culture initiative.

Aine Nic Giolla Coda, from the fine art department at LCAD, is supervising the college’s response to the archive photographs.




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