An original and gripping compilation

Shot of a Garda involved in the Mossie Moore murder investigation, via the Kennelly ArchiveThe Kennelly Archive, recently made available online, is a superb collection of photographs providing a rich historical record of Co Kerry in particular and Ireland in general from the mid-50s to the mid-70s. A selection of the most evocative of the photographs has been published in a sumptuous book – Eyewitness (complete with a jacket blurb from my fellow Kerryman and TCD colleague Brendan Kennelly praising it as “one of the most original, gripping compilations ever to come out of Ireland”, which, if anything is an understatement – the review here is even more adulatory).

The shot on the top left is part of a collection of 124 images relating to the Mossie Moore murder, the events which inspired John B Keane‘s play The Field, made into an oscar-winning movie of the same name directed by Jim Sheridan and starring Richard Harris and John Hurt. The visceral connection to the land, which is the dark heart of The Field, is one of the themes beautifully captured in the Kennelly Archive photographs.

The images are by turns gorgeous, moving and arresting – my favourite is a perfect composition of a ship called the Oranmore beached at Banna strand in February 1970). Taken together, the archive is a powerful, poignant and provocative chronicle of Ireland in the two decades before membership of the European Economic Community [now the European Union] on 1 January 1973 changed us forever.

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