West Cork village in the frame
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.
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.