Community spirit produces unique photographic record

 

A year ago, a Kerry community decided to mark the millennium by holding up a mirror to itself in photographs. The idea was conceived by Father Pat O'Donnell in the Parish of Kilflynn and Abbeydorney.

He called in the expertise of freelance photographer Ms Eileen O'Leary, who had returned to her native county having worked extensively in the US. A disparate group with no knowledge of professional photography was assembled, including farmers, a local priest, teachers, publicans, students, an environmental scientist and a salesman.

Their mission was to capture life as it is lived on a daily basis in this part of Kerry, and their work is now available to a wider audience.

Last weekend, the Minister for Arts, Heritage, Gaeltacht and the Islands, Ms Sile de Valera, officially launched Picture the Time - Rural Life in Ireland.

Beautifully produced by Walsh Colourprint in Castleisland, it contains 140 images from the 16,000 photographs taken by the 14 local people who formed the team. This was a community effort with a difference.

According to Father O'Donnell, latent photographic talent emerged under Ms O'Leary's guidance and both parts of the parish, which sports two rival hurling teams, united as never before.

"We wanted to do something ourselves for the millennium and to show ourselves that it could be done. It's fair to say we achieved that through a wonderful community spirit," he added.

From the inevitable image of Kerry supporters at a football match to images of place and time with young and old subjects, this is a remarkable photographic collection which has done the parish proud.