PHOTOS: More Images Of The 1970s From ‘Through The Lens’

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John Cleary

Well-known photographer John Cleary’s book, ‘Through The Lens’, is a treasure trove of memories for the people of Tralee and Kerry.

Here’s just a few images from the book – which covers events from the 1970s – where you might see some familiar faces…

IRA firing party at Rath cemetery Tralee.

John Cleary describes how this photo came about:

“IRA firing party at Rath cemetery Tralee. This began when the editor of the Kerryman told me to cover the funeral of an IRA man who died in South Kerry, and to watch out for the firing party at the grave side.

When I arrived at the cemetery I made enquiries about the arrangements, but was told that their would be no firing party due to the large number of Detectives and Gardai present, returning to the Kerryman, I informed the editor.

That night I received a phone call about 10pm. In my home in regards to a local press assignment in town, and was told that a person was waiting at my front door. I lived in a very quiet area in Tralee but in the month of February a very dark district.

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Opening the door, I found a man wearing a jacket and hood covering his head and face, it was very dark in the estate where I lived especially during the month of February, he told me to take my car and would not converce with me except to direct where I should drive.

He told me to avoid the town centre, after driving in the outskirts of the town I arrived at Ballinorig, and was told to stop just inside the entrance to Balliorig estate, he left the car, in the mirrow I saw him crossing the road into the Rath cemetery.

He returned quickly and told me to drive to the far side of the cemetery, where i was told to drive off the road and park at a car sales business.

He again told me to follow him and crossed the road into Rath cemetery, he leading the way and I about five paces behind, we were walking towards the old IRA Republician grave in the Cemetery.

It was dark with only the street lights to guide our way. I could hear a group on teenagers in the old church ruins in the cemetery. The person in front of me stopped and listened for sounds, all of a sudden he turned back towards me and ran pass me back the way we came.

I followed running, he stopped and came back once more and led the way to the Old IRA grave, we stopped and after a few minutes I heard a number of men running toward us in the darkness coming from the Ballinorig direction.

The only available light came from the street lights: three men in fitigues and wearing Ballaclavas, two with Russian Kalashnikov machine guns and one with a revolver.

I asked the person that led me to the cemetery.  ‘Am I to take a photo of these men,’ I asked. He said yes, an order was given and the two with the Machine guns fired a deafening volley of about 60 shorts over the IRA grave, with my camera pre-focused from the street lights I got off one exposure.

Again some one shouted an order and every one ran off in different directions with me running back towards my car.

In the darkness and confusion i ran into the teenagers running against me in the opposite direction screaming the IRA are shooting, when i got back to my car the person that led me to the shooting had disappeared.

I developed the film and photo and dropped the latter in the letter box of the Kerryman that night as i was travelling to Dublin next morning. The photo was published, in the Dail it was a hot topic and over the next few weeks I had some explaining about this event.”

Cllr. John Joe O’Sullivan, Ballyheigue, all dressed up for the St. Patrick’s day parade in New York, about to leave Ballyheigue on Tuesday with support from the Ballyheigue people who travelled with Cllr. John Joe to Shannon Airport.

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Members of Port of Tralee Sea Scouts, 2nd Kerry Troop, Scout Association of Ireland, pictured with Sea Scout Leader Mr. Brian O’Daly in celebration of yet another end of season adventure. 

A hitch developed in an excavation job in Denny Street, when a 50 ton Tracks excavator sank in silt and could not be freed under its own power. The excavator was rested on planks until  a machine with a longer reach was brought from Dublin, 

‘Through The Lens’ by John Cleary Photographer.

We’ll have more great images from the book next week. The book, priced €20 is currently on sale in O’Mahony’s Bookshop or from John Cleary on 087-2518012.

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