A Little Nudge to Castleisland Camera Club Members

Railway photographer, the late Joe St. Leger from Cork on cine-film on this occasion as he documented the first train crossing the new bridge at Ballycarthy on the Castleisland to Tralee Road in May 2001. ©Photograph: John Reidy 17-5-2001

Because there is such a surge of interest in photography in the area since Castleisland Camera Club set out its stall a few years ago and because I came across an outstanding photograph of an amazing man, I thought I’d bring it to the attention of the club members.

The Clare Champion

John Kelly is one of the most naturally gifted news photographers in Ireland today.

He works with The Clare Champion and his workload is heavy and varied – but there’s no varying of the quality of the work he produces.

Chemically Stunk Darkrooms

We would be close to contemporaries in that we graduated from chemically stunk darkrooms and all the nervousness that came with loading and developing and arresting and rinsing and fixing and that heart-in-the-mouth first look at the roll of negatives against the light and grabbing a bite to eat and a cup of tea out of your hand while waiting for the film to dry and all that and more.

Stuff on Twitter

But this is not all about John Kelly. I was posting my Maine Valley Post stuff on Twitter this morning and up popped one of John Kelly’s inspirational photographs of the one and only Joe St. Leger.

The late Joe, who passed away in 2012,  was an extremely dedicated railway photographer and a native of Cork.

Born in 1930, Joe’s railway influences came from the fact that his family was living in the station house at Dunkettle – a short distance from Cork on the Cobh and Youghal lines.

Parents on Railway Staff

Both his parents were railway staff members and it was inevitable that he would become involved in the world of railways in some form.

Later on, he became a laboratory technician with the well known firm of Goulding Fertilisers.

I met him a couple of times on railway related issues and the last time was in May 2001 on the occasion of the first train over the new bridge at Ballycarthy on the Castleisland to Tralee road.

Basic Equipment

As John Kelly pointed out in the caption which accompanied his photograph, Joe’s camera equipment was basic – but what he did with what he carried around with him was the epitome of dedication and love of his subject.

He was a railway enthusiast with every fibre of his being. Unusually for a fellow photographer – most of them – he would look you in the eye while talking to you and not at your camera or lens or bag.

What he Saw Through his Lens

These were all trivialities to him. The important thing in his photographic world was what he saw through the lens of the one 35mm camera he carried in its case and attached strap and how he captured and preserved it.

Even though he was using a cine-camera also on the occasion of our last meeting.

Thank you John Kelly for the reminder and God rest you Joe St. Leger and thank you for the legacy of railway images.