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Vandeleurs on Display

Clare Champion, Friday, 14th September 2007

An exhibition of rare photographs dating from the period immediately after the Great Famine was launched at the Vandeleur Walled Gardens in Kilrush last week.

The Vandeleur Photographic Collection contains over 300 images of different members of the famous Kilrush-based 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.

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.

Of Dutch origin, James Vandeleur established the family homestead at Sixmilebridge in East Clare during the late 1630s. Reimbursed by the Cromwellians for losses during the 1641 rebellion, the Vandeleur family prospered before moving west to Kilrush in 1688. The Vandeleurs soon became the most prominent landlord family in West Clare and established some of Kilrush town's most recognisable features, including Kilrush House and the town's wide streets, many of which were named after Vandeleur family members.

"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 exhibition will be re-located to the Clare Museum in Ennis at the end of the month.

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