Historic photographs depict hardships in Ireland's rich past

Like many Emory departments and divisions, Special Collections in Woodruff Library will be celebrating the Olympics by offering visitors a view of the world. From July 1-Aug. 9, Special Collections will be offering visitors a unique view of Northern Irish life and literature.

According to Steve Ennis, manuscripts librarian and literature bibliographer in Special Collections, the exhibition "Homeland: Historic Photographs of the North of Ireland, 1900-1935" is being offered in conjunction with the hosting of the Irish Olympic team by the city of Decatur. The traveling exhibition from the collections of the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in Northern Ireland documents everyday life in Ireland through the work of two professional photographers, R.J. Welch (1859-1936) and W.A. Green (1870-1958). Their photographs depict social and working life in turn-of-the-century Ireland, including shipbuilding and the Belfast-built liners in which many immigrants crossed to the United States.

The 50 photographs have been selected from two major collections of glass plate negatives held by the museum. Green's photographs often document agricultural and rural traditions in the villages and small towns of northern Ireland, while those of Welch depict industrial development of the same period. From the 1890s to World War I, Welch had a regular commission to document the shipbuilding firm of Harland and Wolff Limited. His photographs provide a record of shipyard life during an era when Belfast was one of the world's leading shipbuilding centers.

In conjunction with the exhibition, original manuscript materials from Woodruff Library's Irish literary collections also will be on exhibit, including materials from the papers of a number of poets from the north, among them Ciaran Carson, Seamus Heaney, Michael Longley, Derek Mahon and James Simmons. The manuscript materials on exhibit reflect these poets' own imaginative responses to Ireland's past and have been selected to compliment the major themes of the exhibition.

The exhibit is open Monday-Friday, 8:30 a.m.-5:30 p.m., and Saturdays 9 a.m.-5:30 p.m. For more information, call 727-6887.

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