Barry’s Tea family donate more than 5,000 images of Cork

Photographs were taken by late Anthony Barry when he was Lord Mayor of Cork

Street scene of Patrick Street,  Cork, showing No. 68 K & M O’Connell and Thompsons Cafe, including a ‘shawlie’, taken in the 1960s. Photograph: Anthony Barry

Street scene of Patrick Street, Cork, showing No. 68 K & M O’Connell and Thompsons Cafe, including a ‘shawlie’, taken in the 1960s. Photograph: Anthony Barry

 

The Barry family, who own Barry’s Tea, has donated an archive of more than 5,000 photographs of Cork from the last century to the Cork City and County Archives.

They were taken by the company’s founder, Anthony Barry, who ran a small grocery business on Bridge Street and Princes Street in Cork in the 1930s which came to specialise in tea. Under his son, former Fine Gael TD Peter Barry, the business continued to grow and developed into Barry’s Tea.

Anthony Barry was an election agent for W T Cosgrave and was himself elected as a Fine Gael TD for Cork in the 1954 and 1961 general elections.

He was a keen photographer and in 1961 when he was elected lord mayor of Cork, he began taking photographs of the city and its people.

Current Lord Mayor, Cllr Tony Fitzgerald, paid tribute to the generosity of the Barry family, including Mr Barry’s granddaughter, Ireland South MEP, Deirdre Clune, for donating the collection.

“Viewing these photographs is like opening a door and finding yourself at the centre of 1960s Cork.”

‘Unique collection’

Chief archivist at the Cork City and County Archives, Brian McGee, said the Barry donation was a “unique collection” of photographs that captured Cork at a period of great transition as demonstrated by the fact it comprises both black and white and colour images.

“Areas such as Merchant’s Quay, Patrick Street, and the Coal Quay bear witness to the businesses and residences of Cork past, with dock workers, shoppers and ‘shawlies’ amongst the many subjects of interest,” he said.

“The collection would be significant alone in the fact it illustrates a city through the lens of a former mayor, but what is most striking is Barry’s sense of clarity, purpose and a keen eye for the subject matter at hand - his city and his people.”

Mr McGee said the archive collection is in the process of being catalogued, with more than 200 photographic albums transferred to the archive’s repository in Blackpool. The cataloguing process will be a massive preservation project in its own right.

“The albums contain over 5,000 original 1960s and 1970s photographic prints and these images are being specially digitised and repackaged to international archival standard, in order that they can be preserved and made accessible for future Cork generations.”

Several hundred images from the archive are accessible on the archive’s online catalogue at corkarchives.ie.