Now you can put away that image of me dressed in a skin-tight neoprene suit balancing on a plywood or polystyrene plank crazily riding the wild surf at Coney Beach or Rest Bay, no, that’s not what I meant and you know it! My idea of surfing is sitting in front of my computer “surfing the net”, something which I do tend to enjoy from time to time.

As the build-up to Christmas continues so I have been looking around the internet for inspiration and image-links for a story which has been slowly germinating in the deepest recesses of my imagination. Based on fact, Christmas in the 1950s, I wanted to find some illustrations that would be suitable to accompany my typed meanderings. Needless to say there are countless sites that will provide me with examples suitable for my tale, but sometimes one can be led astray  and go wandering off at a tangent and completely forget one’s mission in the visual absorption of the material discovered.

A couple of websites have captured my imagination recently, both Irish as it happens, illustrating life in rural areas in the period I am researching. The first of these is the Kenelly Archive which has been put together to show the work of professional journalistic photographer, Padraig Kennelly, who worked from a studio in Tralee in southern Ireland from 1953 until the 1970s. The photographs show life as it was happening at that time and is an excellent record of a way of life now past. As we now approach Christmas I’m going to show you just one photograph from this vast resource and it’s one of hundred’s taken at a Santa school visit showing a group of children posing with Santa to have their image captured for posterity. This one is typical of the majority of the Santa series and shows the youngsters dressed in very run-down clothing, you just need to look at the shorts on the boy on the left to wonder how many more times they can be patched! An excellent site, not easy to navigate, but worth it if you’re interested in this period of social history.

The second site I am currently enjoying is the Clare County Library images on-line section. Once again, this is a vast site with thousands of images covering a much wider period than the Kennelly Archive. Of particular interest depicting the 1950s is the Michael John Glynne Collection which deserves a good browse. One of the photos which attracted my attention is this one from the Killahoe Heritage Centre Collection on the site and shows a group of six kids all with a cigarette in their mouths; I guess the oldest would be thirteen or so with the youngest about four or five, can you imagine this sort of photograph being taken in this day and age?

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