A step back in time on World Photography Day

Last Friday happened to be ‘World Photography Day’ so to celebrate I went along to the Arts Centre to take in a photography exhibition in the upstairs gallery. On show was a collection of photographs taken in Roscommon and surrounding areas back in the 80s by a British photographer called Martin Parr.

  ‘So Near & So Far – Roscommon in the 80s’ takes visitors back to a much simpler time. A time when couples gazed lovingly at each other by the ‘mineral bar’ in dance halls, a time when ipads and smartphones weren’t needed and hay bales were thrown by local men for competitive fun.

  What struck me about Parr’s collection was that some of the photographs could easily have been taken that very day in some of Roscommon’s rural towns and villages. Parts of Roscommon have escaped the modernisation and blandness of the Celtic Tiger and globalisation.

  The collection of photographs is a nostalgic throwback to the Roscommon of ‘Moone Boy’ fame. There are pictures of men with donkeys and cattle at a fair day, there are Morris Minors abandoned in the countryside, there is a picture of Garda kneeling in a town square to pray while on duty.

  My World Photography Day was well spent, taking a peak at rural Ireland pre-Celtic Tiger and pre-technology. While there are pictures depicting young men tending to their hair in a dance hall toilet, there is something refreshing about the lack of ego or self-consciousness of those in the majority of the pictures. People seemed to worry less about superficial things back then, and Martin Parr captures this beautifully.

  So Near & So Far, Roscommon in the 80s runs at the Arts Centre until Tuesday, October 11th. Martin Parr will talk about the collection and his long career in photography on October 11th. Places are limited so contact the box office to book a place for the lecture (090-66258240).