Look of the Irish: the communities captured by Tony O’Shea – in pictures

by The Guardian (Reprinted)

The majority of the photographs were taken in Dublin and County Kerry and, in spectacles of religious processions and marches, marking significant events of the recent past, convey a sense of community.

This is the first retrospective book of work by O’Shea. A large number of the images are previously unpublished.

From city streets to the remote countryside, O’Shea’s photographs document the spectrum of public life across Ireland and Northern Ireland.

Often warmly humorous, the images are unified by his subjects’ dignity and lack of self-consciousness. Collectively, they demonstrate O’Shea’s ability to combine the bleak and the joyful.

As an editor at the magazine In Dublin in the late 1970s, Colm Tóibín sent O’Shea out on Dublin buses to capture the life of the city from the upper deck. Read more by Tim Adams in the Observer on this image of two boys and a kestrel here

Ireland broke a record by making it to the quarter finals without winning a match in normal time. They were eventually beaten 1-0 by the hosts, Italy.

O’Shea’s photographs take in everyday life in markets and on bus journeys.

‘Tony O’Shea is interested in the moment where the ritual and the casual face each other in the complex light that comes from Irish skies. He likes gatherings and public spaces. And he is watching for the second when, even if his subjects are performing, a guard has been let down, and the camera becomes an uneasy, tentative, hesitant window into the soul’ – Colm Tóibín.

‘He seeks images of individual loneliness and isolation, figures in a state of reverie and contemplation, or figures in a state of excitement’ – Colm Tóibín.

An exhibition of O’Shea’s work at the Gallery of Photography Ireland in Dublin is planned for early 202.

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