‘Monumental Ireland’: New photo exhibition captures beauty of island’s ancient past

‘Monumental Ireland’: New photo exhibition captures beauty of island’s ancient past

A STUNNING collection of photographs highlighting the beauty of some of Ireland’s finest archaeological monuments will go on display to the public this month.

The display, chosen from an archive of 550,000 images, is designed to offer “fresh new perspectives on Ireland’s ancient monuments, reflecting their resilience and vulnerability”, curators of the Monumental Ireland exhibition explain.

The exhibition, which includes remarkable new imagery of the world-renowned Winter Solstice phenomenon at Newgrange in Co. Meath, will be on display in The Printworks in Dublin Castle from February 8-12.

It has been curated by the National Monuments Service (NMS) in partnership with the Office of Public Works (OPW).

“The exhibition provides in one space an accessible and breathtaking gaze at a range of monuments that tell the story of Ireland,” they explain.

The photos are all from the National Monuments Service Photographic Unit.

Originally set up in 1955, over the years the unit has built upon its collection of photographs and its archive is now approaching 550,000 images - mainly of national monuments and historic properties in State care.

“The Unit’s main function is to record conservation works at national monuments and to maintain its collection of photographs of sites and monuments, recording their condition and conservation works,” a spokesperson explained.

“Selected images from this photographic archive will be on display to the public at Monumental Ireland, allowing members of the public to witness and appreciate the monuments and the work of the Photographic Unit in cataloguing this heritage,” they add.

Images from Newgrange in Co. Meath are among the highlights of the photographic display

One of the highlights of the exhibition is a selection of remarkable new images of the world-renowned Winter Solstice phenomenon at Newgrange passage tomb.

“As part of a two year research project between NMS and OPW, imagery captured from a high resolution camera in the burial chamber and controlled via an internet connection, has shown the dawn sun rays illuminating the chamber as never previously captured, enabling this phenomenon to be witnessed by everyone,” they explain.

Speaking at the launch of the exhibition, Ireland’s Minister of State for Heritage, Malcolm Noonan said: “This exhibition is a wonderful display of the beauty of our archaeological monuments in State care, managed by OPW.

“I applaud the work of our National Monuments Service in curating this exhibition and managing its extraordinary photographic archive,” he added.

There are currently over 145,000 known archaeological monuments across Ireland, representing more than 12,000 years of human settlement.

Over the last 150 years, approximately 1,000 of these monuments came into the care of the State and are the responsibility of Ireland’s Office of Public Works and National Monuments Service.

The Monumental Ireland exhibition is free to view at The Printworks in Dublin Castle, where it runs from February 8-12. For further information click here.