Vandeleur Exhibition Comes To Town

Clare People, Tuesday, 25th September 2007

An exhibition featuring more than 300 images of different members of the famous Kilrush-based Vandeleur family, their relatives and friends will be launched this evening in Clare Museum at 7pm. The exhibition, which is entitled the Vandeleur Photographic Collection, will be launched by the Mayor of Clare and Kilrush native Patricia Mc Carthy and comes to Ennis after a successful two weeks run at the Vandeleur Walled Gardens in Kilrush. 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.

“This photographic collection is an important window into a period of our history. History is what forms us and makes us what we are. The Vandeleur family and their period in this county is a typical example of what is good and bad,” said Cllr Mc Carthy.

“Kilrush benefited from the influence of the Vandeleur family and its development could well be an example today of good planning, resulting as it has in a well planned Town, with wide streets, some striking buildings and a Market Hall forming a central focal point for the town. They also saw the potential of the Shannon Estuary and established a thriving port, which brought employment to the Town and surrounding area. The family had a long military tradition and this involved them in the recruitment of locals to fight in numerous wars including the Great War. All the Vandeleur landlords were not as progressive however. Unfortunately Kilrush like many other areas throughout Ireland suffered under an absentee landlord, a period which saw many evictions take place.”

According to Rene Franklin, Clare County Archivist, the Vandeleur Photographic Collection reveals much about both the public and private lives of one of County Clare’s most influential families in the years after the famine.

"The collection provides a rare and fascinating glimpse into the daily lives of the Vandeleurs; their homes; leisure activities; families and friends; travels; and fashions of the day, at a time when the rest of the county was struggling to survive,” she said. “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 personal and official) on some pages. Each page of the photographic album contains annotations, and the volume is indexed with the name and date of many images.”

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