Mohill: A portrait of an Irish town

A local photography club has recorded a day in the life of the Leitrim community

 

Bridie Murphy is usually one of the first to appear on the streets of Mohill. Every morning she walks her dog, Beauty, through the streets of the Leitrim town, 10 miles from Carrick-on-Shannon, as the shop doors slowly begin to open.

Hail, rain or snow, the duo are there, both wearing high-viz vests. On the last day of March, however, Murphy and her pet, along with many of her neighbours, made a detour on their way home over the course of the day.

In all, hundreds of locals from Mohill’s homes, shops, businesses, schools and clubs came to help the town’s energetic, enthusiastic Photography Club to capture a “Portrait of an Irish Town”.

The day’s efforts followed six months of collaboration between professional photographer, Brian Farrell, and the local enthusiasts, who were linked through Leitrim Council’s Arts Office programme, “Artist in the Community”.

Kisses galore

For 12 hours, from 8am to 8pm on a Friday, in the town’s Butter Market car park, members of the club took turns standing behind a camera in their pop-up studio and photographed those willing to stop and stand.

Couple Packie Joe and Kathleen McGarry stood a moment and Packie stole a kiss.There was a lot of kissing in Mohill that day.

Michael Wall and Susan Frazer met while working with Dublin hairdresser David Marshall, 26 years ago. They married and moved across the Shannon. Now Michael has a barber shop in Mohill and Susan still looks after the women of the town.

Rebecca Allen, who lives outside Mohill, teaches yoga and brought her beau Declan Colley into town and kissed in public, while Francis and Maureen McNobala, who celebrated their 58th year of marriage the day before, were not going to be outdone.

Like Bridie Murphy, some came with pets. Mark McCrann brought a newborn lamb, while bikers, who had rolled in from Dublin for the day, came, too, along with the doctor in his Morris Minor.

Day in the life

Gravedigger Clint Taylor, dressed in his customary shorts, arrived with his friend Mike Dickenson. The two big men filled the pop-up space.

Teachers brought pupils and school-children brought smiles. Michael Crawford from Glebe Street brought a memory: 100 years to the month after his uncle Pte John Cumiskey, No. 7048 was killed in action serving with the 6th battalion Connaught Rangers at Messines, Belgium.

Oliver Fallon had visited the grave two years previously, photographed it and brought the image back to Michael.

Now Oliver, a member of the photography club, stood behind the camera to take a portrait of Michael.

The light moved from left to right as evening came and darkness fell. In the end over 300 portraits were captured for posterity for Mohill. A day in the life of a Leitrim town, but a priceless record.

The archive of photographs will form the basis of an exhibition later this year in Mohill and Carrick-on-Shannon.

The project was made possible by support from the Leitrim Arts Office which funds the Artist in the Community scheme.