Tuesday, December 10, 2013

The Church of Ireland's Library Uncovered a Photographic Treasure 115 Years Old

What a treasure looks like. Boxes of lantern slides -- the precursor to
photographic slides and slide projectors
In 2011, Rev. Stephen White brought to Dublin several old cardboard boxes found in the old Church of Ireland Killaloe deanery in Limerick.  He delivered them to Dr. Susan Hood, the archivist for the Church of Ireland's Representative Church Body Library.

Dr. Hood understood she had
Coming ashore at Jaffa Port (Credit: RCB Library, 1897). Note the
Turkish flag flying
just received a photographic treasure: hundreds of century-old "lantern slides" of  sites in Ireland, India, and the Holy Land.

Dr. Hood deserves credit for preserving the images, digitizing them last year and posting them on the RCB's homepage. 

We thank her for granting us permission to publish the RCB photographs.

Last year, Dr. Hood and BBC undertook an investigation to discover the name of hitherto anonymous photographer.  They were able to identify him as David Brown, a soap manufacturer from Donaghmore who was also an amateur photographer.  In 1897 he joined a pilgrimage led by his brother in law, a Presbyterian minister from Northern Ireland.

We present here Part 1 of the RCB Library Collection. 

Click on pictures to enlarge.  Click on the caption to view the original.

Damascus Gate (Credit: RCB Library, 1897) View inside Damascus Gate HERE
View Herod's Gate HERE
View Lions Gate HERE

Jews praying at the Western "Wailing" Wall.  The day is a Sabbath or Jewish Festival since the men are wearing
their Sabbath finery, including fur hats. The photograph is very unusual since in virtually all of the other 19th
century pictures at the Wall men are not wearing their customary prayer shawls (talitot) perhaps because of a
Jewish prohibition of carrying objects on the Sabbath, or because of the harassment of Muslim authorities.
 (Credit: RCB Library, 1897)
Church of the Nativity in Bethlehem. The man on the right is believed to be the photographer, David Brown. Note
the Turkish soldier on duty inside the Church.  (Credit: RCB Library, 1897).  A Turkish soldier was also on guard
in Joseph's Tomb in Shechem (Nablus). See below.
Joseph's Tomb (Credit: RCB Library, 1897). Certain
pictures, such as this one, were almost obligatory to
all visiting photographers assembling a travelogue.
Turkish guard inside Joseph's Tomb (Library
 of Congress 1900)



A "hides market," according to the RCB's Library caption, but no location is given. Actually, the photo is taken
in Jerusalem at the entrance of the Al Aqsa Mosque on the Temple Mount. Looming over the complex
on the hill is the Tifferet Yisrael Synagogue in the Jewish Quarter  (Credit: RCB Library, 1897). The
synagogue was destroyed along with the Jewish Quarter in 1948.
Next: Part 2 of the Irish Church collection

To read more on the Church of Ireland RCB Library collection and its discovery click HERE and HERE and HERE


  1. You mention the problem of carrying talitot on Shabbat. Therefore, the Kotel picture may be from a chag, when carrying is permitted, rather than a shabbat - just a thought

  2. These are amazing photos!

    In the last picture, the so called "hides market," note the tripod over the cistern head. These people are drawing water from the cistern on the Temple Mount/Haram esh-Sharif and are filling the skin "sacks" with water. These "skin sacks" were then carried into the Old City to deliver water to the inhabitants.

    "Skin Sacks" were not only used to carry water but also wine but especially for churning milk for yoghurt or cheese. For a sample see: