Clare Archives
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Vandeleur Photographic Collection


The Vandeleur Photographic Collection contains over 300 images of different members of the Vandeleur family, their relatives and friends. The photographs date from 1857 to 1871, the post-famine years when West Clare was struggling to recover from the devastation of crop failure, evictions and starvation. No traces of the hardship endured by local people can be found in these images as the subjects pose formally for their portraits. The men are often captured in military attire and the women sport the most up-to-date fashions, some are even in fancy dress. The settings are luxurious and very much removed from the poverty that was gripping the county at the time.

The photographs themselves are all black and white although a small number have been tinted with colour. Further colour is added to the album through the use of beautifully sketched borders and the use of stamps (both private and official) on some of the pages. Each page of the photographic album contains specific annotations. The volume is indexed and provides the name and date of many images.

The Vandeleur Photographic Collection is of great historical importance in both local and national contexts. It reveals much about both the public and private lives of one of County Clare’s most influential aristocratic families in the years after the famine. It provides us with a broader glimpse into Irish life in the mid to late 19th century. In effect, these photographs, which capture daily activities of the wider Vandeleur family, allows one to gain a unique insight into a period of history which is rarely seen and which is critical in coming to an understanding of the development of modern Ireland today.

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Group photgraph from Vandeleur Collection