Remarkable Old Photos of Ireland

This wonderful selection of photographs illustrates Ireland at the very start of the 20th century. Concentrated in Co. Galway, the images depict thatched cottages, shawl clad women, small farms and barefoot children. Indeed, the poverty shown in some of the photos is striking. All of the pictures are taken from the United States Library of Congress collections and are public domain. I hope you enjoy them.

thatched Irish cottage
Thatched cottages, location uncertain, 1901


the claddagh
The Claddagh, Co. Galway city, 1901


old photo monaghan
Country school, Co. Monaghan, 1900


old photo Galway
Street vendors, The Quays, Galway city, 1902


old photo galway city
The Claddagh, Galway city
old photo claddagh
The Claddagh, Galway city, 1901


old photo shop street galway
Shop Street, Galway city, 1903


old irish photo
Spinning, possibly Donegal, 1907


old photo achill
Achill island woman, 1903


old irish man
Old man, Co. Galway , 1901


old Irish farm
Irish cottage scene, location uncertain, 1907


irish peasants
Farm scene, location uncertain, 1902


Man and cart, 1901


old ireland
Jaunting car, location uncertain, 1896


old irish cottage
Thatched cottage, Cushendall, Co. Antrim, 1903


Cattle market, Galway city, 1901


‘A letter from America’, 1902


cutting turf
Cutting turf, Kiltoom, Co. Roscommon, 1903


Antrim, 1902


Irish cottage scene, location uncertain, 1907


Barefoot children, Galway city, 1904


High Street, Galway city, 1901


Inside an Irish cabin, 1904


Donegal cottage scene, 1903


Street vendors, Cork city, 1905


Carry turf, Dooagh village Achill Island, Mayo, 1903
Carry turf, Dooagh village Achill Island, Mayo, 1903
Thatched cottage, Co. Armagh, 1903


Barefoot boys, the Claddagh, Galway city, 1903
Barefoot boys, The Claddagh, Galway city, 1903


Sheep fair, Killarney, Co. Kerry


32 thoughts on “Remarkable Old Photos of Ireland

  1. Great……never seen photos like these …….but can relate to all that my parents chats about the old time ………under English rule and depravitation

  2. Wonderful I wonder if the pic of women with foot in water on Achill Is is next to what is now called the deserted village and if that is Slievemore Mt in background. Anyone who might know Teresa McDonald founder of Achill Field school of Aracheology could bring this to her attention or U of Galway that runs her program now. Thanks so much Anne J

  3. I could be wrong but it looks like the photo Man & cart, 1901 and the photo Cattle market, Galway city, 1901 have the same buildings in the background. Love old photos!

    1. You are right Nancy. That building is the same as the one with the man and cart. This building was replaced and was a part of Ward’s garage. The replacement building (Ward’s) had a large sign erected above it advertising Castrol and was erected around 1960. It is now part of Dunne’s Stores in Galway City.
      Christy Kelly

  4. What a fantastic thing to come in to work and find. I love the old photos and those faces have a thousand tales to tell! Thanks Richard. A great glimpse into our history.

  5. What a wonderfully fascinating collection of images. I am certain most of these have scarcely ever been seen. Thankful to whoever put them together and published them.

  6. Being part of the UK resulted in such poverty in Ireland. The anti Catholicism of the ruling elites, generation after generation meant Ireland didn’t reach anywhere near it potential until modern times.

  7. Such stirring Photos! Many quicken the blood. The barefoot spinner’smile.
    Many, many thanks for sharing.

  8. My old mother would reminise about children with no shoes and travelling in a jaunting cart to town with her mother driving it. Her father was an officer in the Irish army so they moved all over the country. The poverty in Dublin was pitiful and much worse than anywhere else. How times have changed here.

  9. Memories of a hard life and times in Ireland.. Never fail to be amazed when thinking of what the people have gone through. Watched Julie Walters on an edition of Who Do You Tjink You Are and it showed pictures of snow eviction and breaking down the door with a battering ram so that the cottage couldn’t be lived in again

  10. A glimpse into the past how my grandparents / great grandparents lived. A tough cold and hard life living in dirt floor stone cottages that probably had no plumbing. A day to day struggle very similar to neolithic village life.

  11. Feel emotional as I look at these amazing photos. My grandfather was born in in 1871 in Glangevlin Co Cavan. Thank you so much

  12. I’m planning a trip to Ireland with my parents and sons this July. It is so exciting to see these pictures. If only we could go back in time to see and hear these beautiful folks in living color !

    1. I would love that too, I’m not that old but I have a great feeling about that time. I use to live in San Francisco/California but my family is from Roscommon Town/Co Roscommon ad am now living here in Roscommon and looking for our history. Cheers and good luck with your trip. You will love it, I bet you will.

  13. The Claddagh bayside village (later suburb) of Galway city makes a few appearances
    among these old photographs.

    It would be nice if someone who knows the romantic history of the Claddagh Ring would
    attach that story to the photo collection, yes?

  14. At present I am doing my Ancestry and found out my Great Grandfather is Irish his sir name was LEARY.
    When I saw these photographs my heart just melted thinking how hard it must have been for them it brought tears to my eyes.

    May be one day I just might be able to get the chance to visit this wonderful country.
    Thank you for sharing these photographs.

  15. Amazing photos. My family were the Lenihans who farmed in the Barleymount Killarney and my family the Courtney’s were tailors in the main street in Killarney. My great great grandfather Jerimiah Courtney met my great great grandmother Julia Lenihan milking cows for her family. They were such strong people. No one today is doing it hard when you look at the conditions these families lived in. Makes one appreciate what we have today and that wouldn’t be without the stamina of our ancestors.

  16. Amazing old photos, endlessly fascinating…I’d love to hear the conversation of those 3 in Co. Armagh 1903, while the horse waits patiently. And that woman in the Galway market looks a character, she has everyone laughing.

    I’ve been on a quest for a photo of my Grandma’s old village in Mayo in the early 1900s, it was tiny, and called Cahir I think…there was a spinning wheel in the photo that she’d recognized but that photo got lost. Anyway this is a fun way to spend an hour 😀

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