Wednesday, 26 December 2012

Two photographs in a new book on Portobello

Portobello by Maurice Curtis, published earlier this year by the History Press

Patrick Comerford

Two of my photographs have been used to illustrate Maurice Curtis’s new book on the history of another Dublin locality, Portobello.

Maurice has already written illustrated histories of Harold’s Cross and Rathmines. In this new book, he looks at Portobello, which lies on the bank of the Grand Canal, stretching from South Richmond Street to Clanbrassil Street and the South Circular Road and including some of the adjacent roads and streets.

Henry Grattan ... once a key figure on the frieze of The Irish House (Photograph: Patrick Comerford, 2009)

Both photographs, which are printed in black and white rather than the original colour, appear on page 25, to illustrate Henry Grattan’s connections with the Portobello area.

The first is my photograph of Henry Grattan from the frieze of The Irish House, which once stood on the corner of Wood Quay and Winetavern Street.

As Maurice recalls, Henry Grattan was rewarded with a house and land near Portobello for his sterling work in achieving Irish legislative independence in the late 18th century.

The Irish House shortly before its demolition ... it represented the pinnacle of James Comerford’s career as a stucco artist

The second photograph, which is not my own but which comes from my collection, is a photograph of The Irish House shortly before its demolition. The stucco work on the Irish House was designed by my great-grandfather James Comerford (1817-1902).

Portobello is one of Dublin’s best-known suburbs, and has long been a centre of artistic and cultural life in Dublin. The list of luminaries associated with Portobello includes some of the great names of Irish letters, including George Bernard Shaw, James Joyce and Brendan Behan; some of Ireland’s best-known actors, artists, directors, sculptors and painters, among them Barry Fitzgerald and Jack B Yeats. And there are prominent politicians and presidents too.

In this new book, Maurice invites us to join him on a visual tour of Portobello through the decades, recounting both the familiar and the events and places that have faded over time, revealing many fascinating details.

In this tribute to a well-loved part of Dublin, Maurice claims the area was named after an area on the East Coast of Panama, although I always thought that Portobello, along with Rialto and the Grand Canal, took their names from Venice.

This is the third book with The History Press for this author and local historian, who is a long-time resident of Dublin.

● Maurice Curtis, Portobello (Dublin: The History Press, 2012), 128 pp, ISBN: 9781845887377 .

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