independent

Monday 26 August 2019

Changing face of a county

From memories of 1798 to presidential visits, Anne Marie O'Connor tells us why this new collection of history has something for everyone

NICKY FURLONG'S LATEST BOOK is a wonderful waltz through yesteryear. Choc-full with beautiful old photographs, and excellently produced, County Wexford in the Rare Old Times is a perfect coffee table accompaniment.

It allows readers to dip in and out of historical moments, all beautifully photographed, and accompanied by words from the knowledgeable pen of historian and author Nicky Furlong.

The book is divided into several chapters that straddle a century from 1880 and 1980 and is a substantial 223-page work that allows readers to wallow in nostalgia.

Literally thousands of faces stare out of the pages and as the blurb suggests the book spans 'a time of major cultural, social, moral and economic change in Ireland'.

For those who may not even have one jot of interest in history, the pictures alone are there to be studied for the fashions of the day.

An elegant pic by Charles Vize of Violet Elgee in the arms of her beautifully attired mother circa 1910 is worthy of the €25 book price. The style! The sheer timeless beauty.

One of the many chapters of this book focuses solely on characters.

As Nicky puts it, ' A "character" stands recognisable from the crowd. Whether man or woman, he or she is identified as the life and soul, wit of the club, parish, pub mart, street or institution.'

And from there he goes on to show pics of the late great Taghmon man Ned Roche – both as a young communicant and an adult beauty pageant impresario. There's a pic of James 'Jem' Hess of Whitemill – a raconteur and teller of tall tales; ' Ba' Swift, from Keyser's Lane who was among many things an actor, singer, stage manager and resident comedian in the old Theatre Royal and a quaint pic of Lil and Marion Roche outside of the parents public house in Rowe Street.

Aside from people the book also looks at streets and views from bygone days.

How fascinating it is to identify old spots, and note how much they've changed through years of development and Celtic Tiger excess. There's a gorgeous two-page spread of Wexford town, and other pics include Ferrycarrig's old road, Killinick village, Borodale Bridge, Great Island.

One batch of pictures (or in this instance horror photographs as Nicky himself describes them) are of Wexford's derelict sites 40 years ago. The town is almost unrecognisable by comparison now.

Under another section of the book – that exclusive to clergy - there is beautiful, historical photograph taken by the late Pat Hayes in the magnificent Pugin St. Peters College Chapel with Bishop Donal J. Herlihy leading the first ever con-celebrated Mass.

Post Vatican Two, there is a poignant array of Roman style, beautifully decorated chausubles, which have since been replaced by more Gothic style priestly garb.

County Wexford in the Rare Old Times embraces all types of topics from memories of 1798 to presidential visits, armies and war, people of the sea, transport and sport. There's a picture of Nicky Rackard's wedding, the St. Brigid's Melodius Church Choir in Bunclody; Maureen Gauls dancing school in 1960; the Roche sisters from Scar and Duncormick and the Ram Family from Gorey. In his prologue, Furlong says that they collected photographs which are of importance ' beyond our confines because Wexford's geographic position and continuing development render it of more than usual significance'. 'One of the effects from which we hope present and future viewers will derive satisfaction is the realisation that we have survived and overcome times of the greatest difficulty in good heart and with determination.'

Long may that last! NICKY FURLONG'S LATEST BOOK is a wonderful waltz through yesteryear. Choc-full with beautiful old photographs, and excellently produced, County Wexford in the Rare Old Times is a perfect coffee table accompaniment.

It allows readers to dip in and out of historical moments, all beautifully photographed, and accompanied by words from the knowledgeable pen of historian and author Nicky Furlong.

The book is divided into several chapters that straddle a century from 1880 and 1980 and is a substantial 223-page work that allows readers to wallow in nostalgia.

Literally thousands of faces stare out of the pages and as the blurb suggests the book spans 'a time of major cultural, social, moral and economic change in Ireland'.

For those who may not even have one jot of interest in history, the pictures alone are there to be studied for the fashions of the day.

An elegant pic by Charles Vize of Violet Elgee in the arms of her beautifully attired mother circa 1910 is worthy of the €25 book price. The style! The sheer timeless beauty.

One of the many chapters of this book focuses solely on characters.

As Nicky puts it, ' A "character" stands recognisable from the crowd. Whether man or woman, he or she is identified as the life and soul, wit of the club, parish, pub mart, street or institution.'

And from there he goes on to show pics of the late great Taghmon man Ned Roche – both as a young communicant and an adult beauty pageant impresario. There's a pic of James 'Jem' Hess of Whitemill – a raconteur and teller of tall tales; ' Ba' Swift, from Keyser's Lane who was among many things an actor, singer, stage manager and resident comedian in the old Theatre Royal and a quaint pic of Lil and Marion Roche outside of the parents public house in Rowe Street.

Aside from people the book also looks at streets and views from bygone days.

How fascinating it is to identify old spots, and note how much they've changed through years of development and Celtic Tiger excess. There's a gorgeous two-page spread of Wexford town, and other pics include Ferrycarrig's old road, Killinick village, Borodale Bridge, Great Island.

One batch of pictures (or in this instance horror photographs as Nicky himself describes them) are of Wexford's derelict sites 40 years ago. The town is almost unrecognisable by comparison now.

Under another section of the book – that exclusive to clergy - there is beautiful, historical photograph taken by the late Pat Hayes in the magnificent Pugin St. Peters College Chapel with Bishop Donal J. Herlihy leading the first ever con-celebrated Mass.

Post Vatican Two, there is a poignant array of Roman style, beautifully decorated chausubles, which have since been replaced by more Gothic style priestly garb.

County Wexford in the Rare Old Times embraces all types of topics from memories of 1798 to presidential visits, armies and war, people of the sea, transport and sport. There's a picture of Nicky Rackard's wedding, the St. Brigid's Melodius Church Choir in Bunclody; Maureen Gauls dancing school in 1960; the Roche sisters from Scar and Duncormick and the Ram Family from Gorey. In his prologue, Furlong says that they collected photographs which are of importance ' beyond our confines because Wexford's geographic position and continuing development render it of more than usual significance'. 'One of the effects from which we hope present and future viewers will derive satisfaction is the realisation that we have survived and overcome times of the greatest difficulty in good heart and with determination.'

Long may that last!

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