Images of Kilkenny city from the early 1900s and the same images taken in 2013 as a comparison.

Some of the old photographs here are from the Laurence Collection which is curated by the National Library of Ireland. The following excerpt is a re-print from the website:

On the 20th March 1865 at the age of 24 William Mervin Lawrence opened a Photographic Studio opposite the G. P .O. at Sackville street Dublin. Over the years the studio successfully photographed the length and breadth of Ireland. The collection consists of 40,000 glass plates mainly from the period 1880-1914, but some plates go back to 1870.

Lawrence was not himself a photographer, but an early entrepreneur. He opened his Studio in his mother’s toy and fancy -goods shop (see photograph right)
At that time there was great interest in Studio Portraits and he employed a portrait photographer.  At that time his brother, John Fortune Lawrence, took stereo photographs and William took a keen interest in them, and took over the sales.

He employed a team of printers, artists (colourists and retouches).  In 1880 when the dry plate process came in William Lawrence employed Robert French as his chief Photographer French was born in Dublin and spent some time working in the Royal Irish Constabulary, then joined Lawrence Studio, and he worked his way up as printer, artist and then assistant photographer.  He took over 30,000 photographs of the “Lawrence Collection”. 

 Robert French retired in 1914 and William Lawrence in 1916.
In 1916 the premises in Sackville Street was looted and burnt down during the Easter Rising.  Most of the portrait negatives were destroyed.  The negatives of scenes around Ireland were stored in Rathmines and survived.  The firm closed down in 1942 and the following year, the negatives (glass plates) were acquired by the National Library of Ireland

I hope you enjoy the comparison between the images taken at the turn of the 20th century and their counterparts from the early 21st century.

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