A tiny ripple of human turbulence

The Times We Lived In: Published; July 24th, 1955. Photograph by Eddie Kelly

 

As regular readers of this column will know only too well, this writer sometimes falls in love with a picture for no discernible reason. Today’s photograph is one such picture.

The caption reads as follows: “Attending a Mass for Countess Markiewicz in the Church of The Most Holy Trinity, Dublin Castle, yesterday, from left Senator A Clarkin, Mr Oscar Traynor TD, Mr Denis Larkin TD, Lord Mayor of Dublin, Mrs Clarkin and Mr Harry Colley TD.”

Why do I like it so much? First of all – I suspect – because it’s older than I am. (Not many things are, any more, outside of Ming vases and Neolithic monuments).

Then there’s the fact that, although these people have just come from a Mass for Countess Markiewicz, they all look delighted with life itself. Maybe it was an especially uplifting Mass. Then again, it wasn’t a funeral – Markiewicz died in 1927 – but a celebration of her contribution to Irish cultural life.

Taking centre stage in our photo is the tall figure of Denis Larkin, son of Big Jim, wearing the Lord Mayor’s regalia with considerable panache. He is flanked by Fianna Fail TDs Oscar Traynor and Harry Colley, both wearing standard-issue 1950s spectacles, one holding himself to a kind of strained attention while the other looks absolutely at ease.

But it’s not the folks in the foreground who make me smile every time I see this picture. It’s the people coming behind. No doubt they’re trooping out of church, anxious to get home for Sunday dinner and a nice drive to the beach, when they run into this line of happy posers, and come to an unhappy halt.

Look at the face on the man behind Mrs Clarkin’s right shoulder – and the two men behind Mrs Clarkin, one so tiny he can scarcely be seen, another looking baffled in a bowler hat. Behind them again, another man’s hat is perched at an impossible angle – while on the extreme left of the shot, there’s a chap whose expression is verging on the murderous.

A tiny ripple of human turbulence, travelling across time. I love it.

These and other ‘Irish Times’ images can be purchased from: irishtimes.com/photosales. A book, ‘The Times We Lived In’, with more than 100 photographs and commentary by Arminta Wallace, published by Irish Times Books, is available from irishtimes.com and from bookshops, priced at €19.99

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