Sliabh Luachra Old Photos Project – A Labour of Love for Paddy Flynn


Paddy Flynn - set up Sliabh Luachra Old Photos project on his Leaving Cert year. ©Photograph: John Reidy
Paddy Flynn – set up Sliabh Luachra Old Photos project on his Leaving Cert year. ©Photograph: John Reidy

For most students the dawning of their Leaving Cert year looms large and dominates the landscape and mindset for the duration.

Not for Paddy Flynn. The St. Patrick’s College student, Cordal GAA Club PRO and now founder of the Sliabh Luachra Old Photos Project is busier than ever at this important juncture in his young life.

Time and Interest

The Sliabh Luachra Old Photos Project – acronym to be avoided here – is one that’s consuming a lot of Paddy’s time and interest at the moment.

There is a lot of hunting down associated with old photographs and they can be a minefield with copyright issues and so on.

Preservation of the Past

Paddy sent a pick from his collection and captioned them as well as he could. However, another part of the preservation of the past is the recording, wherever possible, of the names of those in the old photographs.

“I’ve always been a man of eclectic interests from politics to religion or even sports but if anything has a way of taking my undivided attention it’s been history,” said Paddy by way of explanation of the world he’s delving into now.

Love and Interest in History

“I’ve honed my love and interest in history from school and visits as a youth to the local library, a place I’d highly recommend as a starting place for budding historians.

“I also had a source much closer to home in my grandmother, Kathleen Curtin.

Many a Sunday as I’ve grown from child to man I called to my grandmother in Cragg, Castleisland to hear tales of Sliabh Luachra and Ireland of long ago.

Grandfather Mick Pierce

Tales of ancestors, townsfolk and men like my great grandfather, Mick Pierce who fought for Irish Independence almost a century ago.
Irish history is very much aural and so unique in the spectrum of European history that it requires our attention for it to be retained, documented and passed down to our descendants.

The great majority of our local history is taught as it was in the hedge schools, in education through conversation with our wise Irish elders and through stories.

Sense of Duty

My budding interest in local history led me to gain a proactive sense of duty to start an old photos group on Facebook which now garners almost three hundred members.

I had got the idea to start one locally from a similar group in Ballyheigue which I had already been contributing work to as my great grandfather was a military captain there.

Ironically I chose my busiest year to start the local history group. But having said that it was an enjoyable break from the hustle and bustle of school work and beneficial for my research and English skills.

Articles and Old Photos

I’ve already contributed articles and old photos on a variety of topics from a piece on famous local clerics; Archbishop Prendiville and Bishop Denis Mary Bradley to an account of the Dance Hall Era with help from my grandmother.

I also did a piece on the McElligott’s business with help from Gina McElligott who gave me the start I needed to get the group up and running with a very generous contribution of her collection of old photographs to show online.

Overwhelming Response

The response in the four months since I started the group has been overwhelmingly positive. I’ve had wonderful feedback from locals and people abroad in the USA, U.K and Australia who love to see a little of home and relive memories of times gone by.

Recently I’ve been able to put my work to good use in sourcing old photos for Denis Cronin, the new proprietor of The Crown Bar & Restaurant which I hope people will enjoy viewing there.

For me this is what it’s all been about and I’ve enjoyed getting such wonderful feedback and interest.

With Irish history it’s all about enjoying what resurfaces because so much of it has been lost or is hidden and it’s there to be unearthed.

In a way our historians are all like archeologists as so much of our history is buried under eight hundred years of foreign occupation but it’s there alright, it just needs to be rediscovered and cherished.

Discovered Image of Padraig O’Keeffe

This was the case with a recent discovery of mine, an old photograph my grandmother had from 1945 of a St. Joseph’s Secondary School feis/talent show which included none other than the great Padraig O’Keeffe.

This was major find as photos of the man are so rare and the find has certainly spurred me on to continue my work.

Of course the vivid history of Castleisland and Sliabh Luachra has made my small contribution that bit easier with the great work done by so many others, past and present.

Amazing Contributions

Michael O’Donohoe, Timothy Murphy, Fr. Kieran O’Shea and more have made amazing contributions – to name but a few

There are great articles out there to be read and I find the use of old photographs compliments written works so well and that’s where I see my part to play.

I’m constantly looking for old photos to post online and share with others. If anyone wants to contribute they can do so on the group: Sliabh Luachra Old Photos.

A Thousand Words

“They can also post them to me so I can copy them or send me an email at: or give me a ring at 087 36 72 948.

“I look forward to the continuation of the group and the reliving of history through old photos. They say a picture paints a thousand words and, by God, the old photos certainly do.

“My final word of advice on old photos is this: cherish them, share them and most important of all, look after them,” Paddy concluded.Contact-banner

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