William Lawrence (1840-1932) On the 20th of March 1865 at the age of 21, William Mervin Lawrence opened a photographic studio opposite the G.P.O. at Sackville St, (O’Connell St) Dublin. Over the years the studio successfully photographed the length and breadth of Ireland. The collection consists of some 40,000 glass plates dating mainly from 1880-1914, but some go as far back as 1870. Lawrence was not himself a photographer but an early entrepreneur. Above; The iconic image of Killorglin in the late 1800s. (Photograph courtesy of the ‘Lawrence Collection’) Above; The Metal Bridge after construction, circa 1885. (Photograph courtesy of the ‘Lawrence Collection’) Above; Rossbeigh, in the late 1800s. (Photograph courtesy of the’ Lawrence Collection’). Lawrence opened his studio in his mother’s toy and fancy goods store during a time when there was great interest in studio portraits. Lawrence then employed the services of a portrait photographer and quickly established himself in business. During this period his brother, John Lawrence also took stereo photographs and William took a keen interest in them. Later Lawrence would employ the services of Robert French. The Lawrence collection are the earliest known photographs taken of our villages, towns and cities. It would appear that Robert French came to Kerry on more then one occasion as is evident in his photographs of Killorglin, Glenbeigh and Caherciveen. As a result of this, the changes and progress of the period can be witnessed. For example, in one photograph, one can see the construction of the County Bridge (1882-1885). Another, taken from almost the same spot can be dated to around 1891-1895 which shows the completed bridge. The changes in Glenbeigh village (especially the road infrastructure) are also very evident. Above; Glenbeigh in the late 1800s. (Photograph courtesy of the ‘Lawrence Collection’). Below; A different angle of Glenbeigh in the late 1800s. (Photograph courtesy of the ‘Lawrence Collection’) Below; Killorglin County Bridge during and after construction. Circa 1882-1895. (Photographs courtesy of the ‘Lawrence Collection’) Robert French 1841-1917. (Chief Photographer of the Lawrence Collection) Robert French was born in Dublin in 1841. He spent some time working in the Royal Irish Constabulary. French then joined the Lawrence studio and worked his way up as a printer, artist and then assistant photographer. French was then employed as Chief Photographer and he travelled the length of the country over a period of 20 years. He took over 30,000 photographs of the 40,000 which exist. Photographs taken include the earliest images of our villages, towns and cities, not to mention scenic sites and even land evictions which were taking place during the period. Below; The camera Robert French used to photograph Ireland. Below; An evicted family living in a mud hut near Glenbeigh, photographed by Robert French. Circa 1882-1885. (Photograph courtesy of the ‘Lawrence Collection’).
Above; Whinn’s Castle Glenbeigh in its glory days. Circa 1882-1885. (Photograph courtesy of the ‘Lawrence Collection’).