West Cork vil­lage in the frame

Irish Examiner - County - - News - Áilín Quin­lan

A penin­sula com­mu­nity in West Cork which im­mor­talised some lo­cal res­i­dents in an eye-catch­ing ex­hi­bi­tion plans to re­peat the pro­ject in the fu­ture af­ter it met with such a pos­i­tive re­sponse.

The ex­hi­bi­tion of 20 im­pos­ing black-and-white por­traits, com­mis­sioned by the lo­cal com­mu­nity coun­cil and drawn from the pop­u­la­tion of the ru­ral Sheep’s Head penin­sula, is cur­rently on show in the din­ing room of a restau­rant in the vil­lage of Kil­cro­hane.

Fea­tur­ing men and women of all ages, the pho­to­graphs, each of which is ac­com­pa­nied by a short piece of text giv­ing the thoughts of each sub­ject and an in­sight into his or her sense of place, pro­vides a fas­ci­nat­ing cross-sec­tion of the com­mu­ni­ties of Kil­cro­hane and Ahak­ista.

“The idea is that these por­traits also gives an in­sight into each of the peo­ple pho­tographed,” said Anne O’Dono­van of the Muin­tir Bháire Com­mu­nity Coun­cil.

The ex­hi­bi­tion on dis­play at the Old Cream­ery Restau­rant in Kil­cro­hane un­til the be­gin­ning of Septem­ber, is set to be show­cased in other lo­cal venues in Kil­cro­hane and Ahak­ista over the au­tumn months.

It fea­tures ev­ery­one from Kil­cro­hane shop­keeper and postmaster Frank O Ma­hony, whose pithy, but sage, ad­vice is to “Do the right thing and you al­ways know what the right thing is,” to Ahak­ista-based artist Annabel Lan­gr­ish, who quotes from the prose poem ‘Desider­ata’.

“It’s all very much about keep­ing it lo­cal,” ex­plained Ms O Dono­van, who added that when the com­mu­nity coun­cil heard that pho­tog­ra­pher Shay Hun­ston was

work­ing on a spe­cial pho­to­graphic pro­ject, Peo­ple of the

Wild At­lantic Way, they de­cided to com­mis­sion him to do a se­ries of por­traits.

“The com­mu­nity coun­cil con­tacted Shay and asked if he would be in­ter­ested in com­ing to the Sheep’s Head and he was very en­thu­si­as­tic,” she said, adding that fol­low­ing a de­tailed nom­i­na­tion and se­lec­tion process which en­sured the ex­hi­bi­tion would dis­play a strong cross-sec­tion of the lo­cal com­mu­nity, the 20 pho­to­graphs were taken:

“The Coun­cil pur­chased the pho­to­graphs. We put them up for dis­play first in the lo­cal Com­mu­nity Hall in Kil­cro­hane and then it moved to the Cream­ery Restau­rant.”

To date, she says, the ex­hi­bi­tion has re­ceived a very strong and pos­i­tive re­sponse as peo­ple were fas­ci­nated both by the stun­ning por­traits and by the things they chose to say in the text ac­com­pa­ny­ing each shot.

“There’s a steady flow of peo­ple in to see it — peo­ple are re­ally struck by the pho­to­graphs and by the in­di­vid­ual quo­ta­tions and philoso­phies of each of the peo­ple pho­tographed.

“This was very much a com­mu­nity re­source. It cap­tures faces in a mo­ment of time in the com­mu­nity and it is some­thing that we would hope to house in a per­ma­nent way within the com­mu­nity. It is very much a cel­e­bra­tion of the lo­cal com­mu­nity and the di­verse peo­ple within that di­verse com­mu­nity,” she said, adding that the suc­cess of the pro­ject had been so over­whelm­ing the com­mu­nity hopes to carry out a sim­i­lar pro­ject with dif­fer­ent peo­ple at some point in the fu­ture.

“It has been a huge suc­cess. This is a re­source for the fu­ture,” she added.

John Joe Bowen, black­smith, is one of Shay Hun­ston’s im­ages of lo­cal peo­ple on dis­play at the Old Cream­ery Restau­rant in Kil­cro­hane.

Pic­tures: Shay Hun­ston

Frank O’Ma­hony, postmaster and shop­keeper in Kil­cro­hane.

The im­age of Eleanor O’Dono­van, chef at the Old Cream­ery Restau­rant, on dis­play in Kil­cro­hane.

>> Annabel Lan­gr­ish, Heron Gallery.

<< Eileen Le­hane of Eileens Bar in Kil­cro­hane.

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