Tuesday, 10 January 2012



 Thank you to Clara Hoyne for bringing my attention to Abandoned Clare

A duty to document dereliction

An abandoned home from David Creedon's Ghosts of the Faithful Departed

Two recent Irish publications can be seen in the light of these renowned exemplars. Deirdre O'Mahony's Abandoned Clare (Abridged) and David Creedon's Ghosts of the Faithful Departed (Collins) both consider local instances of dereliction and decay.
Abandoned Clare,   which has a magazine format, comes under the umbrella of Abridged, an ambitious "art/poetry initiative" based in Derry and active since 2004, with some 23 projects notched up to date, with Gregory McCartney as project co-ordinator.
O'Mahony's photographic exploration of abandoned sites in Co Clare, together with a short introductory text, forms a compelling portrait of small-town and rural Ireland at a particularly testing time.
It is not an exercise in nostalgia, though there is inevitably an elegiac quality to some of the stories that emerge, such as that of Paddy Cahir from Rinnamona, whose repertoire of practical and craft skills was truly exceptional.
We see his stone-built workshop, inside and out, at Kilnaboy in images that concisely convey a wealth of information about a time, a way of life, an individual, a family and a community. Several unoccupied houses are depicted, in varying stages of dereliction. There are the remains of a co-operative mushroom farm at Tubber, and a lace-making factory, pre- and post-demolition, at Ennistymon. Abandoned schools indicate a dwindling population.
O'Mahony, an artist whose projects are generally site-specific, set out not to lament "a lost utopian past but to stimulate, provoke and provide evidence of other ways of doing things". Set against such symbols of economic decline as photographs of a closed travel agents and a ghost estate, this suggestion may seem a little perverse, but it is borne out by the work.
The photographs show a world in transition, as detailed by Vergara, referring to the historical layers underlying what we see now. They also confront us as questions about what might form, in O'Mahony's words, "a sustainable future for rural communities".
She first exhibited the photographs in X-PO in Kilnaboy last year, a venue she established in 2007 to cater for cultural and social activities and projects of several community groups . Abandoned Clare, she notes, elicited an extraordinary response from its local audience, so the project doesn't end with the publication but will continue. The original photographs and a related archive can be seen at X-PO.
Abandoned Clare by Deirdre O'Mahony, published by Abridged is available at X-PO, Kilnaboy and from deomahony@gmail.com and abridged@gmail.com
 For a sympathetic and interesting review of Ghosts of the Faithful Departed, go to

Johnny and Paddy Cahir's Workshop Interior, Kilnaboy Co Clare 2010


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