French photographer Claude le Gall first visited Ireland in 1982. Working initially as a teacher of French, he returned many times to photograph a country that had changed little in decades. What became known as the Celtic Tiger, the economic transformation of the country, had yet to flex its muscle, and life carried on at a slow pace. These were years of mass emigration, as the young and ambitious left their homeland in the hope of better prospects elsewhere.
Le Gall brilliantly captured the face of this 'old' Ireland; the subsistence agriculture, travellers roaming the countryside in their caravans, the religious devotion in what was one of the most pious countries in Europe, and life in that social hub of every town - the local bar. Time in his photographs appears to move at a languid pace. Cows and pigs wander the streets, farmers still travel around in carts drawn by donkeys. Musicians play traditional music in local bars while, in another photograph, a smallholder sitting on a heap of peat, plays his accordion to his two children. A traveller washes down his horse in Galway Bay while, on holy Croagh Patrick, pilgrims kneel down to pay homage.
Being Irish is a fascinating collection of images that emphasise the warmth and hardiness of the people he met. Claude remembers a favourite expression he heard many times, a philosophical attitude to their often difficult lives: "Ah, it could be worse!"
Being Irish will be a hardback book in landscape format (27cm x 29cm). There will be approximately 150 images, in monochrome and colour.
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