An unusual photographic exhibition depicting life in the west of Ireland in the late nineteenth and early twentieth centuries, will provide Galway audiences with a rare glimpse of a by-gone era. The exhibition, entitled Regeneration: the West of Ireland, 1890-1914, will take place in the James Hardiman Library, NUI Galway from Tuesday 8 November to Friday 16 December 2005 and is a joint event with the National Photographic Archive.
The exhibition draws upon the National Photographic Archive's Congested Districts Board Collection and Connemara Album, which dates from 1904-1916. Both sets of photographs were created to record the difficulties facing economic development in Mayo, Galway and Donegal between 1906 and 1914 and in Connemara in 1892. They provide a fascinating view of the west of Ireland one hundred and more, years ago.
These images are supplemented by photographs from the Balfour Album of 1892, which is part of the James Hardiman Library's Special Collections.
The Congested Districts Board was established in 1891 with the primary aim of alleviating poverty in the most disadvantaged places along the western seaboard. Its work continued until 1923 when the Land Commission took over some of its functions. The collection of photographs comprises 105 images, 40 of which can be attributed to the well-known Belfast photographer, Robert J. Welch, documenting congested districts along the west coast.
The Balfour Album depicts scenes from Galway and Connemara from the early 1890s. Created by Robert J. Welch, it was a gift to the former Chief Secretary of Ireland, Arthur J. Balfour in recognition of his support for the building of the Galway-Clifden Railway.