t has once in a while been said that “war or not, you ought to still pay the butcher”.
The veracity of this pronouncing becomes apparent with even a casual turn via the Murphy Collection, which was donated to Tipperary County Library via the Clifton-Browne circle of relatives.
When digitized by way of Dr. Pat Bracken of Thurles Library, the collection gave a fascinating insight into Irish rural lifestyles of the length, but no longer inside the way, the majority would have predicted.
Containing 1,053 photographic negatives referring to the duration from the 1890s to the Nineteen Thirties, the pics were taken at a time while Ireland becomes already firmly on the street to rebellion and Civil War.
Yet the sector portrayed in tv series Strumpet City and Rebellion, along with that of films together with The Wind that Shakes the Barley and Michael Collins appears nowhere.
Rather than violence and warfare, the snapshots display an own family properly included with the social lifestyles of the Ascendancy.
Life goes on as regular with abundant scenes of supposed ‘garrison interests’ — looking, horse racing, croquet, tennis, and hockey.
Part of the minor landed gentry, the Murphys of Ballinamona House, Cashel, had been a number of the small number of rich landowning Catholics.
Taken via siblings Edmond and Kathleen Murphy, both of whom had remained single, the early images deliver the effect of a tranquil and comparatively prosperous society, worlds far away from the trauma of the Great Famine just 50 years earlier.
The gentry portrayed inside the collection simply radiate the unconscious charisma of electricity, even as less prosperous folks seem content material and accepting in their lot.
Certainly, there is little proof inside the pix that this is a kingdom already inexorably on the path to revolt.
The undying imagery continues with serene images titled ‘Judging yearlings at the Dublin Horse Show’.
Yet this become captured at a time while the 1913 Lockout — initiated by way of namesake
William Martin Murphy — convulsed the encircling capital town.
Hints of deep-rooted but, perhaps, socially universal inequalities are furnished via two photographs from 1914.
Pigs roam unhindered via an impoverished- searching Athenry road, at the same time as a tennis party takes place at the substantial and nicely-manicured lawns of Ardmayle House.
People keep having a jolly old time even after the 1916 Rising, which was in all likelihood appeared without delay afterward as simply a blip on the street to Home Rule.
The human capacity to manage through compartmentalizing lifestyles and discounting unpalatable realities is sincerely tested via the image titled ‘Cricket suit between Cashel and Tramore, 31 of July 1916’.
Players in impeccable whites stand languidly around, reputedly without the slightest care.
Yet the competition passed off whilst the bloodiest and the perhaps most gruesome war in history was at its peak at the Somme.
Certainly, the healthy couldn’t have passed off had the British authorities succeeded in imposing conscription in Ireland.
The Murphys had been a military family but a disability avoided Edmond from enlisting, despite the fact that Kathleen did end up a volunteer nurse. It became nearly inevitable, however, that the youngest of the own family, Alfred Durham (Durrie), would be part of the British army.
A whole lot-adorned officer, he fought in France and rose to the rank of lieutenant colonel.
Yet issues approximately Durrie and the ever-gift opportunity of a “Regret to tell you” telegram are positioned aside at Ballinamona.
There are tennis events and visits to extremely good mansions at Tudenham Park and Belvedere House, Co Westmeath.
Even when, in November 1917, Durrie dies in the Third Battle of Ypres, there is no trace within the collection of what should have been the family’s profound grief.
The War of Independence became an uncomfortable time for the landed gentry but the Murphys — covered, possibly, with the aid of their Catholicism — appear little discommoded.
As preventing raged, they holidayed in Kerry and took the individualistic step of journeying Great Blasket whilst renowned authors Peig Sayers, Tomas O’Criomhtháin, and Muiris O’Súilleabháin resided there. Later, they journeyed to the North as Belfast suffered its worst-ever sectarian rioting.
Apparently unfazed, Kathleen is pictured crossing the then difficult Carrick-a-Rede rope bridge with insouciant aplomb. Afterwards, their individualistic spirit is emphasized with a climb of Galtymore, while woefully ill-attired to accomplish this.
Perhaps it’s far the disappointingly dismal reality of Irish independence but the glamour seems to evaporate after 1923. Gone is the cricket, croquet, horseracing, and the huge residence visits at the same time as, in more egalitarian times, the social magnificence of those photographed turns into extra tough to bet.
Facilitated perhaps, through the appearance of the motor vehicle, garrison sports are changed through much less fashionable hillwalking excursions. There are expeditions to Lough Muskry, Greenane and Coumshingaun, however, you can’t escape the sensation that this as soon as the excessive-flying family is now in twilight.
Mother of the family Mary Ellen Murphy died in 1931 and, after two poignant images of her grave, the chronicle of pictures ended quickly afterward.
In many methods, the Murphy Collection tells a melancholic tale and yet it’s miles strangely heartening.
In a time while stoically ‘getting on with it’ was the motto, the Murphys survived the tragedy of the Great War and the atrocity-weighted down War of Independence.
The Collection is certainly well worth a glance if most effective as it puts our present-day travails into a more true perspective.
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