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A Family History in Photographs

Clare People, Tuesday, 4th September 2007

Images of the famous Vandeleur family will return to the Kilrush homestead once again in the form of a public exhibition. A collection of rare photographs dating from the mid-nineteenth century will be placed on display at the Vandeleur Walled Gardens in Kilrush from September 6th, 2007.

'The Vandeleur Photographic Collection', which is funded by Clare County Council and The Heritage Council, contains over 300 images of different members of the family and their 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.

Even though Kilrush has existed since the 16th century, it was not until the 19th century that it began to expand into a bustling estate town. Much of this transition was initiated by the Vandeleur family, which invested huge sums of money and time into designing the layout of the town.

"The Vandeleur Photographic Collection is of great historical importance as it reveals much about both the public and private lives of one of County Clare's most influential families in the years after the famine", stated Rene Franklin, Clare County Archivist.

"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.

"No traces of the hardship endured by the 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 women sport the most up to date fashions, some even in fancy dress. The settings are luxurious and very much removed from the poverty that was gripping the country at the time."

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