AN avid photographer, author, publisher, and collector, Tom Cronin is passionate about preserving and celebrating our past and is the man behind the best-selling book Classic Cork: Photographs of Old Buildings and Old Bridges and of the Vintage Cork and Beautiful Cork photographic calendars.
His latest book The Classic Irish Postcard Collection (his 8th publication to date) is a beautifully produced, quality hard back with high-gloss reproductions of old postcards from almost every county in Ireland.
The book gives the reader a brief snapshot into the history, lives and lifestyles of Irish people captured in that single moment in time recreated in each postcard, and it would sit very comfortably on the shelves of every bookstore, gift shop, and duty free in Ireland.
In fact, much of the interest Tom has received since its launch in May has been from the international media, both in the UK and US. With over 40 million people of Irish descent living in the US alone, it is little wonder at the interest from that side of the Atlantic.
Writing postcards was de riguer for previous generations. Even if one were only going to Crosshaven from Cork for a week’s holiday, dropping a few lines to key family members was a pre-requisite.
“Technology has done away with postcards,” says Tom.
Postcard writing is a dying tradition as people have replaced handwritten notes with the instant access of apps like Whatsapp or Snapchat.
“I wanted to capture as many counties as I possibly could in this book and have been compiling the 595 postcards reproduced inside for the past two to three years”, he explains.
“All those used date from the turn of the century. I have a large collection myself and also know keen collectors of postcards who allowed me to reproduce them.”
From a busy market day in Dunmaway to hanging carcasses of meat outside a butcher’s shop in Carlow’s Dublin Street, the stand alone elegance of Fota House to the long cars in Gorey, Co Wexford packed to capacity with refined day trippers en route to Courtown harbour, and kneeling supplicants at St David’s Well, Tom Cronin’s carefully chosen postcards let us travel back in time for that brief moment.
Cork readers will be compelled by the unfamiliar site of a tram or even horse drawn coaches, laden with wooden crates and leather luggage, traversing Patrick’s Bridge, or the elegance and calm of the well-healed ladies and gentlemen as they take a leisurely walk down the leafy, tree-lined Mardyke, a bustling quayside in Cobh with the lofty Cathedral keeping silent watch on the hill behind, to the heart stopping sight of someone being lowered by the ankles outside the parapets of Blarney castle to kiss the blarney stone and gain eternal eloquence.
The occasional appearance of a snippet of a handwritten postcard, written in beautiful inky copperplate, or a trace hint of postal mark rooting the post card in time and place, gives the book an even greater intimacy.
The Classic Irish Postcard Collection by Tom Cronin will both entertain and educate the reader and make a most gorgeous gift. It retails at €50 and is available to purchase in the Crawford Art Gallery, Emmet Place, Cork or via www.tomcroninpublishing.com.
A portion of royalties from each sale will be donated to CUH.