Captured in Time – The Arthur Collection Exhibition

Captured in Time – The Arthur Collection Exhibition

4th to the 26th of August 2017
Opening hours are Tuesday – Saturday, 12-5pm

A photographic exhibition celebrating the Arthur Studios in Ennistymon
from the 19th to the 20th Century

Launched by Fiona Courage, granddaughter of Joseph Arthur,
at The Courthouse Gallery, Ennistymon, on Friday the 4th of August 2017 at 8pm

This exhibition is kindly supported by Clare County Council, Creative Ireland, and local sponsors.

The Exhibition will be launched by Fiona Courage, granddaughter of Joseph Arthur, on Friday August 4th at 8pm and will run to August 26th in The Courthouse Gallery, Ennistymon.  Opening Times are Tuesday to Saturday 12-5pm

This exhibition departs from the previous exhibitions organised by the Old Ennistymon Society – ‘Vanishing Heritage’ (2013) and ‘Snapshots in Time’ (2015) – in that it focuses on the work of one particular family of photographers.

Most of the photos in this exhibition were produced by Joseph Arthur, whose base was Ennistymon, while others came from his brother John Arthur’s studios in Clonmel. The photographs include postcards, portraits, photographs of local families and schoolchildren, of marriage and death and some of businesses and shops.  Cultural groups are also covered, such as brass bands, the circus, sports clubs and the Ball Committee. Political events are also portrayed, including the Kilshanny Boycott (1896), the Volunteers and the burning of Ennistymon and Lahinch during the War of Independence.

Who were the Arthur Family?

The Arthur family were renowned photographers in Ennistymon, County Clare, from the mid-19th Century to the 1940s. In their studio in Deerpark House, Church Street, Ennistymon, Joseph William, and his children Joseph, John, William and Catherine, created a wide ranging collection of images of County Clare on glass plate negatives and film. At various times, the Arthur family also had studios in Ennis, Miltown Malbay, Kilkee and Lisdoonvarna.

The Ennistymon Arthurs were a branch of the Arthurs of Limerick, an illustrious merchant family who had developed the Arthur’s Quay and surrounding streets of Limerick city.   The Ennistymon connection began with Patrick Arthur. He had property in Main Street – the McDonagh/Hill residence – and by 1811 members of the family lived in Deerpark House.

Joseph William Arthur, grandson of Patrick, was born in Limerick in 1820.  A man of artistic inclination, Joseph was a poet, musician and artist.  A self-portrait still hangs in the home of his great-granddaughter. By the 1840s the new art of photography had come into being and it was no surprise that he was interested in this medium. He went to Clonmel to train under the guidance of a Mr Collins, who at the time had built a reputation as a photographic artist.

Being ill-suited to life as a Limerick merchant, Joseph decided to relocate to Deerpark, Ennistymon, where his mother resided following the death of her husband William. Here he established himself as a photographer. In 1859 he married Kate Cooney of Kilshanny.

They had nine children, four of whom became professional photographers – John, Joseph, Catherine and William. William worked in America as an artistic photographer and ferrotyper. He returned to Ireland and worked for a brief period from the Ennistymon studios before entering the Christian Brothers in 1889 and taking the name Br. Canice.  Other members of Joseph’s family were keen amateur photographers. Examples of work from different generations of Arthurs are shown here.


The Old Ennistymon Society gratefully acknowledges the assistance of the Arthur family in the sourcing of photos and information on the family – Gabriel Arthur, son of Joseph, London; Fiona Courage, granddaughter of Joseph Arthur,  Sussex; Miriam & Chris Arthur, Lisdoonvarna; Anne-Marie Brennan, London; and Michael Kelly, Waterford, the family historian and great-grandson of John Arthur. The contribution of the many local respondents to the appeal for Arthur photographs is also acknowledged.

Exhibition Events:

4pm Saturday 5th August
Join us for an audio visual presentation, ‘Memories of my Father, Joseph Arthur’, an interview with Gabriel Arthur by his daughter Fiona Courage.

Heritage Week Events

21 August, 7:30pm – 9:30pm
Free Talk: Louis Haugh Discusses Historical Photography in the age of the Arthurs
Artist, photographer and historical photography expert Louis Haugh discusses the methods and techniques familiar to the generations of the Arthur family from the 1890s to the mid-20thC. Join Louis as he retraces the history of photography from its invention in the 1840s to the present day, looking at material from the Arthur Studios and antique cameras from his own collection.

22 August, 2:30pm – 5pm
Cyanotype Workshop with Louis Haugh: All Ages (Free, drop in)
Discover the magic of photography with this fun and exciting workshop suitable for all ages. Participants will make and take away their very own unique ‘photograms’, a cameraless technique that captures the shadows an object casts on the paper.

23 August, 1:30pm – 4:30pm
Wet Plate Collodion workshop with Louis Haugh (Free, prints €5 each)
Photographer Louis Haugh will take your portrait or a family photograph using the age old process of wet plate collodion, a magical technique that captures an image directly onto a tin plate using silver crystals. Watch closely as the image develops before your eyes.

For further information contact  065 707 1630