The work of Limerick photographer Franz S. Haselbeck is one of the greatest Irish photographic collections, chronicling an exciting period in Irish history. Haselbeck was never fully appreciated during his lifetime (1885–1973), but his granddaughter, Patricia Haselbeck Flynn, recently painstakingly catalogued his archives, some of which are now on display in Limerick City Hall.
Haselbeck was a photographer in Limerick City from 1912 until his death, in 1973. He cycled all over the city and surrounding countryside photographing important events of the time, including the War of Independence, construction projects, the military, and taking portraits of the locals.
His work now provides one of the most important and comprehensive views into 20th century Ireland. Spanning six decades of major change, the collection is made up of almost 5,000 surviving images and documents from the early 1900s to the 1960s.
Patricia Haselbeck Flynn inherited the collection in 1990 and, working closely with the Limerick City Museum and Archives (LCMA ), she has insured her grandfather’s archive of work will be preserved. She also penned the book Franz S. Haselbeck’s Ireland and curated an exhibition of his work and equipment, named The Street, in Limerick City. It is the culmination of years of work.
She explained “It was almost as if my grandfather knew that it would be important to the city to record these events, as if he felt that it was his civic duty. In turn, I felt it to be my own civic duty to try to preserve it for all and have spent the intervening years in that quest.
“This collection of images of early 20th century Limerick right through to the 1960s is both beautiful and fascinating...I am sure my grandfather would be very proud of their use,” she added.
Some of the earliest photographs in the collection portray the Irish Volunteers and the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1913 and 1914, when the world was heading towards the First World War and Ireland was striving for Home Rule. Haselbeck’s collection goes on to record Ireland’s War of Independence and the Irish Civil War.
The archive also documents major building projects and industrial Limerick, including a photo of massive concrete silos at Ranks Flour Mill, the huge scale of the Shannon Scheme at Ardnacrusha, Mungret Cement Factory, and Irish Wire on the Dock Road.
“His work now provides one of the most important and comprehensive views into 20th century Ireland”
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