Martin Parr: From the Pope to a Flat White

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Forty years of transformation and upheaval: compiling Martin Parr’s longstanding love affair with Ireland

Martin Parr (born 1952) has been taking photographs in Ireland for 40 years. His work covers many of the most significant moments in Ireland’s recent history, encompassing the Pope’s visit in 1979, when a third of the country’s population attended Mass in Knock and Phoenix Park in Dublin, to gay weddings in 2019.

Parr lived in the West of Ireland between 1980 and 1982. He photographed traditional aspects of rural life such as horse fairs and dances, but also looked at the first hints of Ireland’s new wealth in the shape of the bungalows that were springing up everywhere, replacing more traditional dwellings. During subsequent trips to Ireland he explored the new estates around Dublin, documented the North and showed how, after the Good Friday agreement, the Troubles became the focus of a new tourist boom.

The final chapter of this book portrays a contemporary Dublin where start-up companies are thriving, the docks area is being gentrified and where icons of wealth and modernity are ubiquitous. Ireland has also now voted to allow both abortion and gay weddings, developments that would have been unthinkable 40 years ago. Parr published a book of his original black-and-white photographs in 1984. A Fair Day had an introduction by Fintan O’Toole, who subsequently became Ireland’s leading cultural commentator.

Pages: 128

Illustrations: 98