Photography exhibit remembers Irish in first World War

‘Portraits of the Invisible’ examines lives of 50 Irish men and women during ‘Great War’

Portraits of the Invisible, an exhibition of portrait photos of Irish men and women involved in World War opens at the National Photographic Archive. The images were collected by the NLI during a series of WW1 roadshows. Video: Bryan O'Brien


A new exhibit launched Wednesday in the National Photographic Archive seeks to commemorate the contributions of the Irish in the First World War.

The exhibit, entitled Portraits of the Invisible, features photographs of 50 men and women who served as soldiers, medics, nurses, drivers and more, accompanied with short biographies of their lives.

The photographs shown were donated from families of those who served in the war, mainly collected at a series of roadshows held by the National Library of Ireland beginning in 2012.

The roadshows held in Dublin, Wexford and Limerick gave families an opportunity to present documents relating to their ancestors’ experiences in the war.

Carol Budd-Cullen of Monkstown, Co Dublin, attended the first roadshow held in Dublin.

“I was thrilled because I knew that my grandfather had a very interesting story and it had disappeared into the mist” she said.

Her grandfather Charles Budd, a captain in the Royal Army Veterinary Corps, was a recipient of an MBE in 1919 for his invention of a training aid for farriers and is commemorated in the exhibit.

Sara Smyth, the exhibit’s curator, noted that exhibition aims to “document the unique Irish experience” of the First World War.

“What we are aiming for is not the history or politics of the War, but to show the impact of the war on Irish men and women and their families.”

The exhibit, which is being run in partnership with the British Embassy, is part of Europeana 1914-1918, an EU archival project relating to the War.

Speaking before the launch, British ambassador Dominick Chilcott described the exhibit as a look at a key moment in modern history and its impact on “people very like us.”

The exhibition runs until January 2016 in the National Photographic Archive in Temple Bar.