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Emmett's Rowing Club. Archival Code: GCCA/GS09/01 Galway County Council Archives

Photograph of Major John MacBride, c.1900. The Allen Library

Memorial card for Fr. John Sullivan S.J., 1933. Archival Code: ADMN/3/150 (9) Irish Jesuit Archives

Senior and second class students, Crescent College, Limerick, 1876-78. Archival Code: sc/cres/3/7/1/1 (1) Irish Jesuit Archives

Members Of The First Waterford County Council, April 1899. Archival Code: WCC/PH/1 Waterford County Archive Service

Hamilton Family Of Ballintra And Derry. Archival Code: P/72 Donegal County Archives

Rucky Hill, Dundalk to Carrickmacross road improvement scheme, 1938. Archival Code: LCC/RDS/ Louth County Archives

Carlton Orchestra, c1940. Archival Code: D1422/B/17/109

St Eugene's Football Club, champions of Strabane Junior League, 1909. Archival Code: D1422/B/15/4 Public Records Office Of Northern Ireland

Four Circus Girl Performers, c1910. Archival Code: D1422/B/17/7 Public Records Office Of Northern Ireland

Photographs Of Wicklow
Brittas Bay - 1940s, Coleburn and Hopkins, GAA - Wicklow football team - 1898, Miners - Glendalough, The Murroughs - end 19th, early 20th, Wicklow main street - Hopkins, Wicklow town train station - 1950s. Wicklow County Archives

Photograph of religious procession in Dublin, c1940. Archival Code: KSAP 411, Knock Shrine Association

Castle Fogarty, Thurles, county Tipperary. The Allen Library

Photograph of Jack Lynch and Patrick Hillery visiting Brother Allen's Museum. The Allen Library

Photograph of O'Connell Schools Junior Dramatic Society, c.1950s. The Allen Library

St Canice's Christian Brother School in Croke Park, c.1937. The Allen Library

Footballers at Colaiste Iognaid, Galway, 19[53]. Archival Code: SC/GALW/3/2/7/10-75 Irish Jesuit Archives

Blackrock College Garden Party, 1937. Archival Code: AB7/PH Dublin Diocesan Archives

Blessing Kilmacud Church, Dublin, 1955. Archival Code: AB8/B/PH. Dublin Diocesan Archives

Patrician Monastery, Tullow, Carlow, 1911. Delany Archive

There were various attempts at capturing images on mixtures of chemicals before the nineteenth century. However, many people accept that photography was invented by the Englishman, Henry Fox Talbot in 1834. The earliest photographs were negative images on metal plates. Another material commonly used in the early days of photography was glass. Gradually photography became more widespread as new equipment was developed, making the process easier. A major breakthrough came in the 1880s when George Eastman developed film rolls for use instead of photographic plates. Eastman invented the Kodak camera.

One of the largest collections of early photographs in Ireland is the Lawrence Collection, which was compiled in the period 1880-1914. William Lawrence had a studio in O'Connell Street, Dublin, and his staff travelled all through Ireland, taking about 40,000 images.

Early photographs on metal or glass plates need to be carefully stored and protected, and sadly, many have not survived. A further problem with all photographs is that the images are made up of chemicals, which can deteriorate, especially if they are not stored in the correct conditions.

Photographs are very important sources for historians and other researchers because they capture scenes and people in ways that could never be explained using the written word. In particular, they can show street scenes with names of businesses and other details; interesting aspects of social history like the interiors and exteriors of houses; and the type of clothing worn and implements used by people in many different situations. 

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