New book claims 1916 Rising leader Patrick Pearse was camera shy

Patrick Pearse.

A new book insists 1916 Easter Rising leader Patrick Pearse was camera-shy and was determined to be photographed only from the side.

That’s because he had a pronounced squint, explains the book Patrick Pearse: A Life in Pictures.

Most iconic pictures of him are taken from the side because he felt the squint was disfiguring.

In family pictures, or pictures of him with groups of colleagues, Pearse always struck a sideways pose even though everybody else in the picture would be looking straight at the camera.

But the book, reviewed in the Irish Independent, also includes a rare image of Pearse looking at the camera face on, which, although somewhat blurred shows the extent of his squint.

The book, compiled and written by the curator of the Pearse Museum, Brian Crowley, says that Pearse was “very self-conscious” about his eyes.

Crowley wrote, “It appears to have affected him from birth and was hereditary. Whenever possible, he made sure that he was only photographed in side profile.”

Another rarely seen picture of Pearse in the book shows him as a schoolboy wearing glasses. The squint is visible in that picture also but it appears to have got worse as he got older and was very pronounced when he reached manhood.

The review says the iconic profile pictures of Pearse, such as the one on the cover of the new book, have given him a distant, heroic image over the years.

Crowley wrote, “From his teenage years on, he rarely allowed himself to be photographed in any way other than in profile. He carefully controlled how the camera, and posterity, would see him.”

The book tells the story of Pearse’s life in pictures, from his comfortable middle-class childhood in Dublin to his development into a rebel leader prepared to use force to win an independent Ireland.

The 160-page book is published this week by Mercier Press as a large paperback at €14.99.