It’s not just at Christmas time that books of photographs hold a fascination for me and the latest Jack O’Neill collection, Waterford Through The Lens Of Time, has a fine timeless quality of history and stories and personal memories in pictures.
Because it is about Waterford, and compiled by a man, a retired train driver, it has a steam wreathed touch of magic that goes to the heart of the child within people – isn’t a train driver – a steam engine driver, such a magical job. There is another pleasure, as I pass Jack O’Neill regularly about the town.
His photo on the back cover of this book is memorable and was snapped by a young photographer, Emlyn Farrell, a grandson of the legendary snapper, Simon Farrell.
So much of this book re-awakens family and growing up memories for me, mostly inspired by places my father brought me. One such location was the beautiful 1866 Railway building, knocked in the sixties. Even though it is in black and white, I clearly see the yellow brick work on an iconic building that housed such a fascination for me. Trains, stations, trolleys, people coming and going, such a sense of purpose and of a greater world out there, somewhere.
The many shots of the docks are full of that possibility of travel. On page 109, there is a photo of a riverside walk, before Bell Lines was buil,t and my father, a proud Ferrybank man, brought me and my brother there so often. There is a stab of memory, the bitter sweetness of sad re-call of much happier moments.
This book, at just under two hundred pages, is a real treasure and memory of change and the value of change.
I liked the photographs of a Pigbuyers Dispute and the extracts from papers in 1896 about it, especially from this newspaper, where the then Bishop of Waterford and Lismore, Dr. Sheehan, appealed for talks and arbitration.
Enjoy this book and let it rekindle or make anew, a thought and a memory of the way things were.