This 1922 photo from the National Library of Ireland, showing National Army troops for crossing Athlone town bridge for the takeover of Custume Barracks from British forces, has been colourised for the new book 'Old Ireland In Colour 2'.

New photo book adds colour to our past

Revitalised historic photographs from Athlone town, Kiltoom, and Birr are among those featured in a recently-released sequel to last year's bestselling book, 'Old Ireland In Colour'.

John Breslin and Sarah-Anne Buckley's 'Old Ireland In Colour 2' features an array of evocative photos from the past which have been renewed using a "unique blend of cutting-edge technology, historical research and expert colourisation."

Photos from all 32 counties appear in the book, and local interest centres on the inclusion of photos such as the nearly-century-old image, from February 25, 1922, of the Irish troops crossing Athlone's town bridge for the takeover of Custume Barracks from British forces.

"The barracks were originally built as temporary accommodation for cavalry and infantry units in 1691, and named after Sergeant Custume, who defended the bridge from the forces of King William III during the 1690 Siege of Athlone," the book explains.

"After the takeover by the army of the Irish Free State, they served as the headquarters of 4th Western Brigade until the brigade was disbanded."

An even older local photo, from 1903, captures a bog scene in Kiltoom. It depicts two men with spades digging in a pit for turf while others, and their donkey, look on.

Men with spades digging for turf in Kiltoom, Co. Roscommon, in 1903, as depicted in 'Old Ireland In Colour 2'.

The book also adds colour to a photo dating from the 1880s which shows the Rosse six-foot telescope, known affectionately as the Leviathan of Parsonstown, at Birr Castle.

"It was the largest telescope in the world from 1845 until 1917, when the Hooker Telescope was built in California," explains the caption in the book.

The book's version of an 1880s photo of the 'Leviathan telescope' in Birr.

'Old Ireland In Colour 2' is divided into six sections, under the broad headings of Politics and Revolution, Children and School, Working Life, Sport and Leisure, Ireland and the World, and Urban and Rural Scenes.

It contains over 150 images, accompanied by detailed captions, to give a portrait of life in Ireland throughout the nineteenth and twentieth centuries.

Both of the authors both work at NUI Galway. John Breslin is a professor who has taught engineering, computer science and entrepreneurship over a twenty-year period, while Sarah-Anne Buckley is a lecturer in History and President of the Women’s History Association of Ireland.

* 'Old Ireland In Colour 2', published by Merrion Press, is out now in hardback, priced €24.95.