Photographer returns to Inis Meáin after first capturing life on the island 50 years ago

Photographer returns to Inis Meáin after first capturing life on the island 50 years ago

A PHOTOGRAPHER who first documented life on one of the Aran Islands 50 years ago has returned to record a second chapter to the story.

Chris Rodmell has returned to Inis Meáin - one of the three Aran Islands in Co. Galway, with his lens to capture the traditional ways of life there and its inhabitants today.

Gathering the cattle in Inis Meáin 2023 (Pic: Chris Rodmell)

Rodmell’s fascinating journey has been recorded for the TG4 documentary Inis Meáin: Idir Dhá Linn, which airs this month.

In it the photographer reveals the tradition and resilience that remains on the island as well as its hope for the future.

“Fifty years ago, photographer Chris Rodmell equipped with an artistic eye captured the soul of Inis Meáin a place poised at the edge of transformation,” a TG4 spokesperson explained.

“His lens vividly portrayed the island's everyday life capturing the essence of hardworking farmers fishermen devoted housewives and curious schoolchildren.”

St John's Eve in Inis Meáin (Pics:Chris Rodmell)

“Through his photographs he etched a portrait of an ordinary yet extraordinary community steeped in tradition and untouched by the influx of modernity.”

They added: “Now in a remarkable sequel, Chris returns to complete the second chapter inviting a striking comparison between the island's bygone era and its contemporary existence.”

With his earlier knowledge of the island and its community Rodmell has been able to offer unique insight for the TG4 documentary, comparing the lives and traditions he witnessed five decades ago with that which he experienced in his recent visit to Inis Meáin.

Inis Meáin children relaxinv after hurling training (Pics:Chris Rodmell)

“His photographs and recollections offer a precious window into a world that was preserving the essence of an era teetering on the brink of vanishing into the annals of time,” TG4 admits.

“The documentary ventures deep into the pulse of Inis Meáin's community delving into the lives of those deeply ingrained in its history, those who chose to weave their destiny within its shores and those who traverse distances to partake in the island's cultural opulence,” they add.

Among the traditions that Rodmell finds have remained steadfast on the island is the practice of herding cattle to pasture and the Saint John's Day bonfires which continue to be lit every year.

Scoil Náisiúnta Inis Meáin 2023 (Pics: Chris Rodmell)

But there are new experiences too, such as the presence of many mainland children who now flock to the island’s local schools to learn Irish and the resurrection of the delicate art of knitting, which has been rescued from the brink of oblivion by a local indigenous enterprise.

“This documentary serves as a profound tribute to Inis Meáin's illustrious past, its dynamically evolving present and the aspirations harboured for its future,” TG4 explains.

Inis Meáin: Idir Dhá Linn airs at 9.20pm on December 28 on TG4.