Dublin after dark: one photographer’s journey around the city

Andy Sheridan is an accidental photographer, and night-time trips have led to a deeply personal project for Pieta House

Killiney Hill: Little boxes on the hillside, Little boxes made of ticky tacky. Photograph: Andrew Sheridan

Life talks to everyone in distinct voices. On a Darkness Into Light Walk last year, it struck Andy Sheridan that the beauty of the event was the solidarity of difference. "Everyone who was was there for their own reason," he says. "I wasn't talking to people; it wasn't a social event for me. But it certainly was for a lot of people. They were chatting and asking each other how they were.

“And the scale of that, the numbers – there was a kind of a comfort in that. So then when it was coming around again, I thought, This could work. Even thematically this could work.”

Croke Park. Last one out, turn off the lights. Photograph: Andrew Sheridan
Along the prominade at Clontarf. Photograph: Andrew Sheridan

The “this” is an exhibition of his photography in the CHQ Building in Dublin on Thursday and Friday night, with all proceeds going to Pieta House. For the past year or so, Sheridan has been touring Dublin by night taking photographs. Scanning darkness for chinks of light.

This wasn’t always his thing. He is an architecht by trade and training and the photography is something he figured out by himself. Truth be told, he never much liked photography. He didn’t even like people taking photographs. Live, he thought. Be. See the world through your eyes. And then someone got him a camera and, before long, the camera got him.

Glover’s Alley, off St Stephen’s Green. Photograph: Andrew Sheridan

Within a couple of years, he had won a competition in the Metro and picked up an SLR camera as the prize. He made a website and threw up some of his favourites just for somewhere to put them and nearly fell off his chair one night when he got a random email asking were any of them for sale.

Last Christmas, he bought 90 frames in Ikea to chance selling some prints in Stoneybatter in the Lilliput Stores Christmas market. He sold 78 of them, again much to his astonishment. "That gave me a big boost in confidence, to be honest with you," he says. In fact, it pushed him to submit three prints as candidates to be shown in the RHA Annual Exhibition. Two of them were selected and will be on show over the summer.

And so to the idea of doing something for Pieta House this weekend. As Sheridan says, everyone has their reasons when it comes to Darkness Into Light. His come from the death of his brother Seán, who took his own life in 2015. None of this is explainable, none of it is easy. You do what you can do.

Smithfield, seen through Arran Quay. Photograph: Andrew Sheridan

And for this week, in this place, this is what Andy Sheridan can do. Show 36 photos of Dublin in darkness, shards of lights poking and flashing here and there, in the hope that people will like them and buy them and help lighten some of the load carried every day by Pieta House.

“He had his reasons, I guess,” Andy says of his brother. “Though that’s of little consolation. I, and everyone else who knew him, still keenly feel the pain and chaos that continue to reverberate from that burst of dark energy. Which is why I have decided to try, in my way, to do something to help

“Pieta House provide such an amazing service to some of the most vulnerable in our society. Those who are in danger of taking their own lives, and those who are left to deal with the aftermath of those that do.

“To go on the annual walk from Darkness Into Light is to appreciate just how many people are affected by all of this. The scale is overwhelming. So much resilience and collective strength in the face of so much sorrow and grief. The sun will rise again tomorrow. Life must go on.

St Patrick’s Cathedral. Photograph: Andrew Sheridan

“I know from my photographic work that the smallest of light sources can make all the difference. It can utterly transform a shot. Scary, black night-time alleys can be rendered beautiful with a single lightbulb. Pieta House is such a lightbulb.”

Dublin: From Darkness Into Light, a sale of photographs by Andy Sheridan takes place in CHQ on Custom House Quay, Dublin on May 4th and 5th. All proceeds to Pieta House. A gallery of Sheridan’s photos can be seen at andysheridanphotography.com