Facebook page leads to Old Carlow Photos book

It all began when Dermot O’Brien decided to clear out his attic

What started life as an attic clear-out and developed as a popular online presence has now been crystallised as a book for anyone with an interest in old photographs, or Carlow, or both.

Old Carlow Photos: The Book is edited by Dermot O'Brien, a Carlow town-based teacher and photography enthusiast whose discovery of a trove of old images in his home planted the seed of the publication.

“I was putting off clearing up my attic for a good while and, eventually, two summers ago, I went up to it and I came across all my old negatives and photographs,” he recalled at the weekend.

“I was looking through them and thinking, ‘people never saw some of these’.


"At the time Chris Hadfield the astronaut was sending photos back from space and putting comments up on Facebook about them and generating a huge amount of traffic."

Facebook group

Mr O’Brien decided to set up a Facebook group, Old Carlow Photos, starting with some of his own material and inviting others to post their own work.

Hundreds of photos poured into the group and were eventually categorised into sections including streets in Carlow, sports, people and various social occasions.

The impetus to publish a book came from a viewpoint Facebook founder Mark Zuckerburg might not appreciate.

“I realised that Facebook won’t be there in five or 10 years and those photos will be lost, but what I have here is a great social history of Carlow. Even my kids don’t realise a lot of what the town would have been like years ago.”

‘Flat out’

He and his friends "crowdfunded" the publication of the book using fundit.ie and have been "working flat out" for the past five months putting the material together.

The result is a handsome, hardback, A4-sized volume of more than 125 glossy pages and more than 700 photos, some of them accompanied by comments they elicited when first uploaded to Facebook.

The only rules for inclusion were that photographs had to be at least 25 years old but also in living memory, with many dating back to the 1950s and some as far as the 1920s.