Haselbeck Collection opens at City Hall

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by Rose Rushe

Members of the Haselbeck family at their home on Wolfe Tone Street
Members of the Haselbeck family at their home on Wolfe Tone Street

EXCEPTIONAL archived equipment and photographs from  The Haselbeck Collection will be on show from Monday January 13 when Limerick City Museum and Archives (LCMA) opens ‘The Street’.

This will be “a major photographic exhibition featuring rare images of Limerick City and its environs dating back to the early 20th century”.

Minister for Arts, Heritage and Gaeltacht Jimmy Deenihan and our Mayor Kathleen Leddin will share launch honours at City Hall for the 7pm opening. This is a duly significant show by which  our new Council can espouse City of Culture’s first months, on site. Admission is free to all.

Many people got to know the quality and value of Franz S Haselbeck’s 19th century work when his legacy of photographs were restored by his grand-daughter Patricia Haselbeck Flynn with the support of a team of helpful family, professionals and specifically, the ESB Archive service and sponsor Siemens.

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The German giant had employed Franz to document its pioneering work in Ardnacrusha when the power plant was being built.

The Hunt Museum floated a major exhibition of his industrial and social imagery that drew a couple of thousand in footfall. Later, the museum proved a sympathetic site for the launch of the ensuing book compiled by Patricia, ‘Franz S Haselbeck’s Ireland’.

An elaborate picnic by the banks of the Abbey, typical of its time
An elaborate picnic by the banks of the Abbey, typical of its time

Franz Sebastien worked as a professional photographer in Limerick from 1912 until his death in 1973. He cycled all over Limerick City and the surrounding countryside to photograph the important events of his time including the War of Independence and major construction projects, as well as everyday events around town.

“Today, The Haselbeck Collection is regarded as one of the most important collections of 20th century Ireland,” according to Jacqui Hayes, city archivist and curator of ‘The Street’.

This year’s exhibition also looks at Haselbeck’s life as a professional photographer in Limerick:

‘The Street’ will have a display of his camera equipment as well as archival documents illustrating his professional and personal life.

“Some of the earliest photographs featured in the exhibition relate to the Irish Volunteers and the Royal Irish Constabulary in 1913 and 1914 at a time when the world was heading towards war and Ireland was striving for Home Rule”.

At City Hall for January and February, open weekdays.