Kathleen Connors and Nellie Handrigan, Cherry Orchard, Dublin
Alen MacWeeney (American, b. Ireland, 1939) chromogenic print on white wove paper 15 1/4 x 15 in. (38.7 x 38.1 cm) Gift of Douglas J. Wetmore '79
Alen MacWeeney was born in Dublin in 1939. He is an internationally renowned photographer, currently based in New York. He began working in photography in his teens, winning several awards for his early works. At 16, he was given his first job as a press photographer at The Irish Times. He worked for a year before leaving to pursue his own work. Several years later, MacWeeney sent a letter to Richard Avedon, asking to be his assistant. Avedon hired MacWeeney and brought him to work in both his NYC and Paris studios, giving MacWeeney the opportunity to travel at the young age of 21.
MacWeeney soon became impatient with the limitations of studio photography. He returned to his home in Dublin, traded in his 120 camera for a new 35mm Leica, and began trying his skills in street photography. This period of MacWeeney's practice marked the development of what became his signature style. MacWeeney has carried this style of photography throughout his career and into today, even using 120 in the vein of his street photography, as can be observed in his Yeats ('65) and Travellers ('65-'67) works. The composed, gritty images compliment his subjects, made obvious in works as early as his Pennsylvania photographs taken in the Amish Country in 1962, to his 1980s New York Subway photographs where his style is especially exemplified.
Alen MacWeeney is still active, living in New York City and Sag Harbor, and traveling to Ireland often. His collection was recently acquired by University College Cork in Ireland, where it will be archived and maintained. His works are featured in the permanent collections of many prominent museums such as MoMA, The Philadelphia Museum of Art, The Art Institute of Chicago, and more, as well as in private collections of institutions such as Columbia University, Boston College, and elsewhere. MacWeeney's collection continues to grow as he continues printing in his personal studio darkroom and photographing in the analog and digital mediums.
Source: Alen MacWeeney website
This photograph is part of MacWeeney's body of work on The Travellers. For more reading on the Travellers:
Alen Mac Weeney and the Irish Travellers: LINK
A Brief History of Irish Travellers, Ireland’s Only Indigenous Minority: LINK
Pat Galvin's poem, "Traveller": LINK and an article about tributes to the poet at his funeral: LINK
Images of Travellers in the news today:
To extend and amplify your experience with Alen MacWeeney's photo, Marty Fahey offers two musical selections:
Margaret Barry, "Queen of the Gypsies"
Read more about Margaret Barry
And, for a second musical exploration: Irish Traveller Pipers-The Dorans
Felix Doran, "Within a Mile of Dublin"
The Doran brothers--Johnny and Felix-- were brought up in Rathnew, Co Wicklow and were direct descendants of the great 19th century travelling Wexford piper John Cash.
Johnny Doran died tragically in 1950, age 42; but, fortunately, the Irish Folklore Commission had made recordings of his music in 1947, a year before he was struck down in an accident. These recordings were published by NPU in 1988.
Felix Doran spent his early years as a travelling musician, performing extensively throughout Ireland before settling down in Manchester in the 1960's. He died in 1972. Recordings of Felix made in the 1960's were published by Topic Records (Felix Doran, "The Last of the Travelling Pipers") four years after his death. .