Irish Eyes – Photographs by Alen Macweeney

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In 1965, Alen MacWeeney came upon an encampment of itinerants in a waste ground by the Cherry Orchard Fever Hospital outside Dublin. Called tinkers and later styled Travellers, as they preferred to call themselves, they were living in richly colored caravans, ramshackle sheds, and time-worn tents. MacWeeney was captivated by their independence, individuality, and endurance, despite the bleakness of their circumstances. Accepted by the Travellers, he began to take photographs. Over five years, he spent countless evenings in the Travellers’ caravans and by their campfires, drinking tea and listening to their tales, songs, and music — which had been rarely shared or captured by camera and tape recorder. (The CD included with the book includes Travellers’ music, songs, and stories.) In a moving essay about his days and nights among them, MacWeeney writes: “Theirs was a bigger way of life than mine, with its daily struggle for survival, compared to my struggle to find images symbolic and representative of that life.” In Irish Travellers, Tinkers No More, Alen MacWeeney has created a superb record of a vanishing way of life and created a photographic masterwork.

View more of Alen Macweeney’s work on his website. Although no longer in print, you can locate used copies of Irish Travellers here.

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