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Documenting a Beara year in photographs

March 6th, 2018 7:10 AM

By Southern Star Team

Members of Beara Camera Club discussing and critiquing photographs at one of their recent monthly meetings.

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A group of photography enthusiasts  on Beara has embarked on an ambitious project to record an entire twelve months of life on the peninsula, writes Helen Riddell

A PLAN to create a photographic archive of life in 2018 on the Beara Peninsula has been announced by Beara Camera Club as one of their key projects for the coming year.  The club’s members are aiming to create a digital photographic archive of the entire Beara Peninsula, capturing buildings, locations and events of potential historic interest for future generations over the course of the calendar year. The club hopes to have up to 1,000 photographs in the archive by the end of 2018. 

Beara Camera Club was founded in 1991 by John Eagle, for photographers living and working on the Beara Peninsula as way for them to come together and share their work and knowledge. John, who is renowned for his photographs of Irish lighthouses outlines that it was in November of ’91 when he and fellow photography enthusiast Marie Pearce started the club.  ‘Our very first member was Matthew Higgins, and we held our first meeting at the Eyeries Café which was owned by Phil Pearce.  We met there on a regular basis before moving to John Murphy’s restaurant in Castletownbere. The club book was kept by John on a ledge on the roof of the front door porch.’ The current club secretary is John Lucas. He outlined how the club is open to anyone with interests in photography, regardless of the type of camera they have. ‘Our members include beginners in photography and professionals and any type of camera is allowed – from a camera phone to state-of-the-art camera systems.’ The club embraces any aspect of photography, from black & white to colour, from beginner to professional, from traditional film to the latest digital, from snapshots to studio, from portraits to landscape to sport to photo-journalism.

The club meets every month for discussions, to arrange field trips, exhibitions and to select photos, which go into a monthly window display in Castletownbere library. A topic is picked at each meeting for the following month’s library exhibition. 

Following the AGM at the start of this year, the camera club decided to launch their archive project for 2018 as a means of having ‘a whole year of photos in one place,’ John Lucas explained.  They plan to present copies of the photographic archive to the County Library and to the Castletownbere Library; the club also hope that a selection of the photos may be published in book format at the end of the year. All club photographers are invited to submit photographs to the Beara archive, and for the purposes of the project Beara is defined as the peninsula to the west of the N71, including Bonane but excluding Kenmare and Glengarriff. The peninsula includes Bere Island, Dursey Island and Dinish Island.

 The year is calendar 2018 and all photos must be taken within this timeframe. Subjects that the group hopes to capture for the archive include historical and archaeological sites; ruins and decaying machinery; all public buildings in Beara (e.g. schools and churches, houses of interest and local businesses); industry and industrial activity, particularly fishing and farming; landscape and weather events.  Drone photography is also permissible for the archive. 

The club will also be continuing with its Beara Schools’ Photo Competition, which they launched last year to promote and encourage photography amongst school children in Beara. The competition is for all pupils attending schools on the peninsula, with pupils asked to take photos on a given subject.  In 2017 the topic was ‘Moving Water, Immovable Rock.’  John said they were delighted with the entries for the inaugural schools competition which saw the finalists being presented with their prizes at a presentation ceremony held at the Beara Coast Hotel last May. 

 The evening also included an exhibition of all the entries, all of which he says, were of a very high standard.  As well as individual prizes, Lauragh National School received a special award for being the school with the highest proportion of its pupils entering the competition – a staggering 100%.  The 2018 schools’ competition is now open and the topic this year is ‘Ruined.’

 The Beara Camera Club meet in Twomey’s bar, Castletownbere on the second Monday in each month, and welcomes new members.  For further details contact [email protected]

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