The Photo Album of Ireland project explores the social history of photography in Ireland through the family album and other private collections. To chart this history we have looked at a range of themes beginning with the earliest practices in photography and continuing up to the advent of digital technology. We want to trace the ways in which photography makes visible larger changes in society -private family histories are often ruptured by key events in history.

We have invited leading photo-historians, writers and critics to contribute a range of responses to the project. These texts consider how our relationship with photography has evolved, reflecting on the impact of technological changes on our use of photography.

Writer Darren Campion considers the pivotal role of photography in photography in sustaining a sense of belonging to a particular place, family or community for emigrants from the perspective of the family album.

Essay by Darren Campion explores the role of photography in recording and reflecting the events of the Easter Rising.

Early Irish American Dageurrotype c.1845-1850. Dr Justin Carville discussed this rare early Dageurrotype of an Irish emigrant to the America.

In her essay ‘An evening with the photograph album’ Stephanie McBride explores the ‘unconscious optics’ in our photo albums.

Dr Orla Fitzpatrick discusses her grandmother and her relationship with the photographs from her time spent in America between 1895 and 1905.

Photography and the family album – essay by Darren Campion explores the social role of photography.

In Ireland, the first photograph was made of a bridge on the River Lagan in Belfast by Francis Stewart Beatty, a Belfast engraver, in September 1839…

Early amateur photographers were primarily drawn from the Landed Gentry. They had the necessary time and resources…

Photography was the new wonder technology of its time, attracting entrepreneurs keen to cash in on public fascination…

Towards the end of the 19th Century the photographic landscape was radically altered by the introduction of new developments in photographic technology…

Irish physicist John Joly – famous for his development of radiotherapy – developed one of the first colour photographic processes…