Home, National Library of Ireland

New photographic exhibition launched at the NPA, Temple Bar

Wednesday, 1 February 2023
Orange graphic with black text reading People and Places

The National Library of Ireland (NLI) has, today (31.01.23), launched a new exhibition, People and Places in the National Photographic Archive, Meeting House Square, Temple Bar.

The exhibition captures the social, cultural and technological changes that have taken place across Ireland from the middle of the 19th century up to the turn of this century.


Images featuring women in the 1860s selling refreshments in Killarney; a passing steam train in Clones, Co Monaghan in 1959; and children outside Dublin’s Ballymun flats in 1969 are some of the photographs which give a glimpse into both Irish history and the evolution of photography. The exhibition comprises 50 photographs taken between 1858 – 2001, representing the age of analogue photography in Ireland. Photographs on display include early forms such as salt paper print and stereo-pair up to more contemporary photography.


Commenting, Acting Head of Exhibitions, Learning and Programming at the NLI and curator of this exhibition, Sara Smyth said: “What’s collected today becomes history tomorrow. As Ireland’s memory-keeper, the NLI continues to collect and share a vibrant national collection that documents historical and contemporary life on the island of Ireland. The NLI houses over five million photographs, which are a visual record of the history and culture of Ireland.


“The exhibition will run until 2025 and phase one will feature framed photographs from 20 of our most popular collections. The images selected speak to the diversity of Ireland, with photographs representing almost every county, North and South of the Border.


“We highlight working-class and middle-class communities; women, who usually appear less often than men in history telling; and we juxtaposition rural communities alongside their urban counterparts. Themes, such as climate change and transport, are also addressed.”


This free exhibition will be accompanied by a programme of events and will run from the 1st February until 2025, with updates made to the exhibition’s content throughout its life cycle. Booking is not required.