My Big Day – First Communion and Confirmation Photographs 1940-1970 from the Annie Brophy Collection form a wonderful nostalgic slice of Waterford social history at Christ Church Cathedral. Photos evoke such a stream of memory and each time I visit this exhibition I get into conversations about families and a vanishing Waterford and about hopes and dreams and the tears of memory.
It is the hopeful innocence that catches you from the bright young faces in long white long trousers, braided jackets and rosettes and badges. There are stories of money and expectation from Waterpark, Mount Sion and De La Salle.
I recognize and remember Dom Traynor with his optimistic open face, Niall Byrne from Tramore 1939, Danny Tobin the entertainer from Castle Street 1950. There’s Susan Grant from Christ Church in 1964 with her sister Rena Walsh. I remember I played on the docks with Pat Hanrahan when I see a 1957 photo of his sister Marie form Marble Lane – now the Tower Hotel Car Park. There’s Margaret Fagan with her parents and siblings from 1970 in Arundel Square.
I stop to grin and marvel at the 1956 photo of this newspaper’s John O’Connor holding a shiny prayer book. There’s Brian Havel in 1965 whose father designed iconic Waterford Crystal patterns.
I had an interesting chat with Ida Kennedy nee Gaffney from The Apple Market as well admired two family studies – Michael and Michelle O’Meara with children 1978 and the Tony Delicato family from the Venetian Café, John’s Street. So much art in its true definition of the work of the people who paid for it, now brightening up a venue that the Arts Council failed to support this year. Shame indeed.