Fermanagh’s photographic heritage will be explored at a free public lecture taking place at Enniskillen Castle Museums this Thursday 19 May at 7.30pm. The talk will be given by Elizabeth Kirwan Manager of The National Library of Ireland’s National Photographic Archive, who will talk about the Lawrence Collections at the National Library.
Townhall Street, Enniskillen from the Diamond -
Copyright of Fermanagh County Museum
In 1865, aged 25, William Lawrence opened a Photographic Studio in Sackville Street, Dublin, just opposite the GPO. In the proceeding decades Lawrence's Studio captured scenes from every corner of Ireland up to 1914. The Lawrence Studio’s output was huge, and 40,000 surviving Lawrence Studio glass plates are housed in the National Library.
From the 1880s, new photographic techniques allowed for the rapid development of commercial photography. Towards this end, Lawrence employed Robert French. Born in Dublin, French progressed through the Lawrence Studio to become the chief photographer. Most of the Lawrence Collection outdoor photographs were taken by Robert French.
The Lawrence collection has 40,000 images in total and are an invaluable visual record of the history, society and culture of the island of Ireland between 1865-1914. The collection contains over 300 images of Fermanagh; 125 of which are of Enniskillen. Some of the photographic plates date from 1870.
In 1916 the premises in Sackville Street was looted and burnt down during the Easter Rising. Most of the portrait negatives were destroyed. The negatives of scenes around Ireland were stored in Rathmines and survived. The firm closed down in 1942. In 1943, The National Library bought the surviving 40,000 Lawrence Studio glass plates plus their Stereo Pairs and Eblana collections (1860-90) for £300.
Speaking about her lecture, Elizabeth Kirwan Manager of The National Library of Ireland’s National Photographic Archive said:
“Fermanagh County Museum’s spring exhibition series documents Enniskillen’s rich heritage. Thousands of the National Library of Ireland’s photographic treasures are online at www.nli.ie, while many more are not as widely known. This lecture will highlight the contribution the National Library’s Lawrence photographic collections can make to documenting Enniskillen’s visual history.”
Speaking about the forthcoming lecture, Sarah McHugh McHugh, Manager of Museum Services said:
“I am delighted that Elizabeth Kirwan is coming to show us some of the wonderful images captured by the William Lawrence studio in the 1800s and early 1900s. These are literally a snapshot of life in the past that will be fascinating for anyone with an interest in their local area. I hope everyone can come along and enjoy learning of their local history.”
This lecture coincides with the Museum’s spring exhibitions – Enniskillen: A Model Town and Shooting the Past: Capturing our Local Heritage. Both exhibitions continue until 30 May.
This event has been organised in conjunction with the Clogher Historical Society Cumann Seanchais Chlochair
For more information, please contact:
Fermanagh County Museum, Enniskillen Castle Museums, Enniskillen, Co. Fermanagh
Tel: 028 6632 5000 from NI & UK or 048 6632 5000 from ROI
Email: [email protected]