Kennelly Archive brings Kerry’s history to life
Padraig Kennelly 1929-2011
The Kennelly Archive can be viewed for free in its entirety at www.kennellyarchive.com, the story of Kerry between 1953 and 1973 is revealed in hundreds of thousands of photographs that together tell a tale of a country shedding a traditional, rural past and turning its face towards the modern world
Padraig Kennelly 1929-2011
If a picture is worth a thousand words, the Kennelly Archive is an entire library, where the shelves are packed with true-life stories waiting to be rescued from the past and released to the present.
In the Archive, which can be viewed for free in its entirety at www.kennellyarchive.com, the story of Kerry between 1953 and 1973 is revealed in hundreds of thousands of photographs that together tell a tale of a country shedding a traditional, rural past and turning its face towards the modern world.
Padraig and Joan Kennelly’s photographs from 1953 to 1973 are frank, penetrating images of the county at work and at play, at home and in public.
Remarkable for their clarity, the photographs were state-of-the-art at the time they were taken, and thanks to the very latest digital transfer techniques, they are even sharper today than on the day the cameras clicked.
The Archive, and the story it tells, is also remarkable in scale: over 150,000 pictures are currently available for viewing. It will include 600,000 photographs when complete.
According to Padraig Kennelly, there is a simple explanation for the massive number of photographs in the Archive.
“Photography was our business and livelihood, and to a great extent, the more we took, the more likely it was that we were to be able to live,” he says.
“We had to feed ourselves and our family, and photography was not yet really recognised as a business enterprise, so it was very difficult, particularly when we began.”
But even from his earliest days as one of the very first photojournalists in Ireland, Padraig Kennelly has always believed that today’s photography is tomorrow’s history.
The Kennelly Archive transforms that belief into a resource that will be of significant benefit to historians and researchers into Ireland’s recent social history.
It will be at least of equal interest to anyone with even the smallest interest in Kerry’s recent past, and in the stories, events, people and places that shaped the county’s present.
“Photographs illustrate a moment in time, and thanks to the wonders of digital technology, they can now capture that moment forever,” Padraig says.
“The images in the Archive provide an entry point into the past for anyone who wishes to explore Kerry from a social and historical point of view.
“But it’s equally important that people use it in a relatively casual way - to find old pictures of themselves, or their families and friends in the 1950s, say, or to see how their parents’ generation lived, worked and enjoyed themselves, in the dance halls and the sportsfields, the schoolyards, the farms, the fields and the factories.