Lighthouse Photography Exhibition Opens at NUI Galway

Monday, 25 May 2009

Photographs of Irish lighthouses, taken at the turn of the 20th century, feature in an exhibition taking place in the James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway. The maritime-themed exhibition 'Safety for all' coincides with the visit of the Volvo Ocean Race to Galway, and will continue until 30 June. The photographs were taken by the well-known Irish astronomer and mathematician Sir Robert Ball (1840-1913) who was the scientific advisor to the Commissioners of Irish Lights for almost thirty years. Images in the exhibition come from a collection donated by the Commissioners of Irish Lights to the National Photographic Archives. John Cox, Acting-Librarian at the James Hardiman Library, said: "This is a beautiful exhibition. It includes panoramic views of Irish quays, coastlines and islands. It also offers unique insights into early 20th century social life in coastal areas through informal portraits of lighthouse keepers and their families. We also have pictures from the construction work on the Fastnet Lighthouse, which show the dangerous working conditions for those involved". 'Safety for All' also contains photographs depicting the rather unusual landings which had to be undertaken by lighthouse inspectors. In the absence of landing jetties, inspection teams were often lifted ashore from their ships by the lighthouse keepers, using manually operated derricks. Additional aspects of the exhibition include material held by the Special Collections and Archives departments of the James Hardiman Library. These photographs are taken from the Balfour Album of 1892, which was created by folklorist Robert J. Welch as a gift to the former Chief Secretary of Ireland Arthur J. Balfour. Also on view are images from the Ritchie Pickow Photographic Archive taken between 1952 and 1953 by American photographer George Pickow, and the Heinrich Becker Archive which includes photographs taken in Ireland from the 1940s to the 1980s. The James Hardiman Library at NUI Galway is open in the summer month from 8.30am to 5.30pm, but closed on bank holidays, Saturdays and Sundays. The exhibition is free and all are welcome.
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