Inspired by Ghostlight

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Ghost LightWhile reading Ghostlight by Joseph O’Connor the One City One Book for April 2011, my interest was sparked.

The library has copies of John Millington Synge’s writings, including his plays, poetry as well as numerous biographies.

I discovered a book of photographs taken by John Millington Singe My Wallet of Photographs the collected photographs of J M Synge arranged and introduced by Lilo Stephens. 1971.

I decided to photograph these same places in Wicklow and Dun Laoghaire in 2011. Places that feature in Synge’s letters to Molly Allgood, the woman who inspired Ghostlight. These photos are currently on display in the Dublin City Library and Archive, Pearse Street.

I wanted to walk in Synge’s and Molly’s footsteps, to soak up the atmosphere, the essence of the places in his photographs.

What wonderful social documents Synge's photos are. He was essentially interested in people and his photographs are a wonderful record of daily live around 1907. These photos include blacksmiths, people making hay, cutting turf, at market, selling apples at the fair, potato pickers, school boys on Dun Loaghaire pier. These people inspired Synge’s writing with their language and stories.

The camera was used to produce a visual record of the types of people he brought to life in his literary and dramatic works” Lilo Stephens

It was a pleasure to discover, while retracing Synge’s steps, that the places are geographically unchanged, even some of the buildings are still there. I’ll finish with Synge’s own words from a letter he wrote to Molly on 2nd May 1907

What wouldn’t I give to be out with you now in this rich twilight coming down from Rockbrook or Enniskerry with strange smells and sounds, and the first stars, and the wonderful air of Wicklow? Is there anything in the world to equal the joy of it?”

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