From the ar­chives Novem­ber 27th, 1954

The Irish Times Magazine - - NEWS - Ar­minta Wal­lace

Pub­lished: Novem­ber 27th, 1954 Pho­to­graph: Der­mot Barry

It must be one of the steep­est city- cen­tre hills any­where: and it cer­tainly wasn’t any less steep in 1954, when Der­mot Barry took this won­der­fully at­mo­spheric pic­ture from near the bot­tom of St Pa­trick’s Hill in Cork.

The cap­tion reads: “Guard Dick O’Con­nor, who reg­u­lates the traf­fic at the MacCur­tain Street – Bridge Street cross­ing in Cork has one prob­lem partly solved for him, for it is only one car in 50 that ever tack­les St Pa­trick’s Hill ( in back­ground), be­cause the gra­di­ent is one in three. Guard O’Con­nor is a ju­nior All- Ire­land foot­ball player.”

Ac­tu­ally, the garda has the look of an or­ches­tral con­duc­tor as he beck­ons the traf­fic from MacCur­tain Street to­wards the bridge.

Not that there’s much traf­fic, if the num­ber of cars in the pic­ture is a re­li­able guide. But maybe that was rush hour, 1950s- style. If Dick O’Con­nor were stand­ing in the same spot to­day, there’d be a line of parked cars stretch­ing along be­hind his right shoul­der, and a mo­torised mad­house pretty much ev­ery­where else.

In many other ways, though, the streetscape hasn’t changed all that much. Thanks to the won­ders of Google maps you can take a vir­tual “drive” up the hill – some­thing you can’t do in real life – and see that many of the build­ings have re­tained the same fa­cades and door­ways.

At the top of the hill, the house with the win­dows on the side is now painted a strong shade of blue. Whether this was so in the 1950s, our photo can’t tell us. In­stead it’s a mas­ter­ful study in mono­chrome.

The garda’s out­fit in deep­est black, the peak of his cap of­fer­ing a shiny con­trast. The dif­fer­ent shades of the cars. The re­flec­tions on the wet sur­face of the road – even the shoes of the lady who’s cross­ing the street are du­pli­cated there, help­ing to bring the viewer’s eye up the hill and down again. Google maps, 1950s- style. With more em­pha­sis on the style.

Ar­chive pho­to­graphs and other

Ir­ish Times images can be pur­chased from irish­times. com/ pho­to­s­ales

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