May 13, 2020

Family Fortunes (Irish Times) My Love for Cameras....

These days of lockdown due to the global pandemic do have some silver linings. One of these is that it has given me some time and headspace. I have no excuse but to return to my blog to give some news of my life and particulary my writing life. I have sadly neglected this outlet for a long time. 

I am going to start by publishing some of my writing/articles that have been published in the last while.

Below find a piece that was published in the Irish Times last year in the Family Fortunes column that is included in the paper every Friday:


Cameras and Binoculars

My fascination with cameras and binoculars began when I was about ten. I started helping my Dad in our chemist shop for the late-opening on summer evenings. I suspect that my ‘help’ was really just so that he would have some company in the shop. I’d dust and tidy some of the shelves, re-arrange the postcards so that all of the same images were stacked together on the rack and, when I was older, work the till.

The tourists, mostly Americans, drifted in and out on their way to or from the restaurants and bars in town. Many bought postcards and toiletries like toothpaste and shaving foam. But, strangely, we sold many pairs of binoculars and very many cameras.

I made up a sign for the shop window with: “Binoculars: Cheapest in Town” with a drawing of two little eyes and eyelashes drawn over the ‘o’ in binoculars and felt like I was well on the road to a marketing career.

My father came into his own when he launched into the sale of a camera with a customer. He showed them a box camera, then cameras that used 35mm rolls where the film was spooled from one spool to another. He used often have the camera and his hands up to his elbows inside a black zipped bag when he was spooling on a film that had got stuck for some reason.

Then came the magic Polaroid camera that developed photographs on the spot. As time went on he sold instamatic cameras that used 126 cartridges that you dropped into the back of the open camera. However, the camera that most intrigued me was the 110 pocket camera. It was a longish cuboid that had a slim cartridge that was easy to load. My Aunty Anna bought one of these coveted cameras from us.

When my twenty-year old cousin Margaret came on holidays from the US with her friend, Aunty Anna gave her a loan of her camera before she took off on her cycling trip. When Margaret arrived back to Killarney a week later, she gave my dad her film to be developed. When they were developed, there were 24 very interesting photographs, all detailed studies of Margaret’s left eye. From then on my father was even clearer to potential purchasers as to which side of the camera the viewfinder was on to avoid any future anatomical studies of the optical variety. Or perhaps it was the beginning of the eye-selfies?


The link to the piece on the Irish Times website is: