In 1913 Two Frenchwomen Took The Earliest Color Photos Of Ireland

In 1913, two Frenchwomen, named Madeleine Mignon and Marguerite Mespoulet, took a 2-month-long trip to Ireland.

The two women were a part of a world-wide project called Archives of the Planet (Archives de la Planète). It was initiated by Alberth Kahn, French banker and philanthropist, and it aimed to create “a kind of photographic inventory of the surface of the earth, as it was occupied and organized by men at the beginning of the 20th century.” So, the project was kind of like a primitive Google Maps.

The photographs captured by Madeleine Mignon and Marguerite Mespoulet are the earliest color photos of Ireland. Through the lenses of their Autochrome Lumière cameras, these adventurer intellectuals documented priceless moments of remote villages, Irish rural settlements, lives of locals adhering to traditional Gaelic values, ancient Celtic monuments, prominent Christian sites, green landscapes, cemeteries, street settings from Galway city and much more.

Without further ado, let’s commence our photographic trip back in time to the 1900’s Ireland.

Disclaimer: The photos belong to the archives of “Autochrome de Marguerite Mespoulet (inv.A 3 706). © Musée Albert-Khan – Département des Hauts-de-Seine”

Mother of seven making fringes for knitted shawl – Galway, Ireland – 29 May 1913
Two fishermen and a boy – An Spidéal, Galway, Ireland – 31 May 1913
The boy is dressed in a skirt which is common in the region for all boys up to the age of 12.
Two men making coracles – River Boyne, Oldbridge, Ireland – June 1913
A coracle is a small boat, traditionally used in Ireland (particularly on the River Boyne), Wales and Scotland.
The word “coracle” comes from the Welsh “cwrwgl”, cognate with the Irish “currach”,
Two coracles on the Boyne – Oldbridge, Ireland – June 1913
Girl wearing the traditional dress of Claddagh – Galway, Ireland – 26 May 1913
Main Ní Tuathail, a 14 year old girl from Claddagh wearing a traditional Claddagh dress – Galway, Ireland – 26 May 1913. Claddagh (Irish: an Cladach, meaning “the shore”) was a fishing village close to the centre of Galway city. The people of Claddagh lived away from the City of Galway and retained their Gaelic customs, language and dress well into the 1930s. The original village of thatched cottages was razed in 1935 and replaced by a council-housing scheme.
Mother and child outside a dwelling – Claddagh, Galway, Ireland – 25 May 1913
These dwellings are typical of Irish peasantry in the 18th and 19th centuries. The neatly thatched roofs and whitewashed walls show skilled craftsmanship, but cannot hide the true desperation and poverty of the native Irish
A village wheelwright in County Louth – June 1913
A wheelwright is a person who builds or repairs wheels. This man has painted his doors with the same paint as his wheels!
Cemetery and round tower – Clonmacnoise, Ireland – 2 June 1913
A stone-carved Celtic Cross – Clonmacnoise, Ireland – 1 June 1913
Mellifont Abbey – Louth, Ireland – June 1913
“Outside car” on the route from Headford to Claregalway – Ireland – 29 May 1913
Eel fisherman – Lough Ree, Athlone, Ireland – June 1913
Man cutting turf – South Connemara, Ireland – 29 May 1913
Ross Abbey – Headford – 29 May 1913
Selling fish at the port of Galway – Ireland – 26 May 1913
Livestock, the day of the fair – Galway, Ireland – 29 May 1913
Mansion of the Conyngham family – Slane, Ireland – June 1913
Athlone Castle – Ireland – June 1913
Round tower – Glendalough, Ireland – June 1913
Roundtower, Roscam, near Oranmore – Galway, Ireland – 27 May 1913
Glendalough, Ireland – June 1913
Weaving – An Spidéal, Galway, Ireland – 31 May 1913
Ross Errilly Friary – Headford, Galway, Ireland – 29 May 1913
Woman and abandoned dwelling – Lough Ree, North Athlone, Ireland – June 1913
Isoltated house – South Connemara – Ireland, 31 May 1913
House in a gorse bog – South Connemara, Ireland – 29 May 1913
Currach transporting turf – River Shannon, near Athlone, Ireland – June 1913
Turf Transport – An Spidéal, Galway, Ireland – 31 May 1913
Glendaloch, Ireland – June 1913
Traditional Irish knitwear – An Spidéal, Galway, Ireland – 1 May 1913
Galway, Ireland – 1 May 1913
Galway, Ireland – 1 May 1913
Galway, Ireland – 1 May 1913

Argun Konuk
Argun Konuk

A 24-year-old travel & history enthusiast who has been sharing his travel experiences and introducing the unpopular unique places in the world!