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Bare Bones: Dublin Street Photography 1950-2000

Bare Bones: Dublin Street Photography 1950-2000

The Little Museum of Dublin presents urban photography exhibition

“And the bare bones of a fanlight
Over a hungry door”

From ‘Dublin’ by Louis MacNeice
Photograph by Mick Brown

A little girl poses on a bicycle in Blackpitts. A man helps Gardai with their enquiries. Another man shows off his songbirds at the Bird Market. These glimpses of urban life were among the photographs that featured in an exhibition in the museum in summer 2021.

Bare Bones: Dublin Street Photography 1950-2000 featured remarkable scenes of urban life by photographers such as Tony O’Shea, Tony Murray, David Jazay, Evelyn Hofer, Bryan Meade, Perry Ogden, Elinor Wiltshire, Brendan Walsh, Doreen Kennedy, Mary Kuhn and Mick Brown. 

The exhibition is not a celebration of the city it reveals; there is little room for glibness in these accidental revelations. Nor is the show presented with any great ceremony.

In depicting the lived experience of Dubliners, our original hope was that this exhibition might have a nostalgic appeal. It became something more complicated, reflecting the Dublin of Bare Bones as a place full of humour and incident, but also a town that seems bound to the past in ways that are not particularly flattering. 

If the show had a theme, it was the stickiness of deprivation, for the streets of a city do not lie; sometimes they are where people go when feeling unwelcome elsewhere. So that man is looking for work. Another shifts coal. Those kids are truculent rather than cute, they refuse to pose for the camera. And look! That woman would have you returned to the arms of Jesus. 

You probably know her face. You may even know her name.