Revolution! Michael Collins

Walk around any of the main Dublin tourist areas and you’ll see 1916.  The major exhibitions/tours at the National Museum and Kilmainham, the GPO and its exhibition, murals and pubs with photos covering their frontages and prominent places named after the leaders – eg Pearse, Connolly and Heuston stations to name a few.  Over recent decades and particularly around the centenary in 2016, the Easter Rising has been elevated to the pivotal event in Irish history leading to independence and the establishment of the Republic.  Less visible, however is the legacy of the War of Independence from 1919-21 and the subsequent civil war between Pro and Anti treaty forces.

Central to this was Michael Collins – holder of various government posts in the revolutionary republic but effectively the mastermind in the guerrilla war against the British and signatory to the treaty establishing the Free State. He is probably the leading figure in modern Irish history yet perhaps due to the treaty and it’s aftermath and his assassination by anti-treaty forces, his presence around the capital city is a bit muted.

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Michael Collins. (Canon T50/Kentmere 400)

There’s no statue or memorial other than this less than flattering bust in Merrion Square alongside Oscar Wilde and Bernardo O’Higgins.

The old British Army barracks was renamed Collins Barracks in 1922 and now houses a main site of the National Museum, but there’s little of his presence at the site other than his name.

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Collins Barracks, National Museum.   (Olympus OM20/Kodak Tri-X)

There is, however a memorial to his chief of staff and future Fine Gael leader, Richard Mulcahy.

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Richard Mulcahy bust, Collin Barracks.  (Olympus OM20/Tri-X)

Ironically, the most prominent site relating to Michael Collins is his grave at the Glasnevin Cemetery just outside the city centre. Vying for the centre of attention among the great and good (and ordinary) of Irish history, Collins’ grave is one of the most visited and tended-to at Glasnevin.

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Michael Collins grave – English script
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Michael Collins grave – Irish script


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Michael Collins grave and headstone, Glasnevin

(all shot on Olympus OM20 and Ilford HP5)
As Ireland prepares for its next round of centenary commemorations, perhaps Michael Collins will be able to find centre stage in the country’s capital.

Revolution! – Arbour Hill

A century on from the decade when Ireland began the final struggle to gain independance from Britsh rule, a visitor to Dublin will see memorials, museums, experiences and physical reminders of events that have shaped the Ireland of today.  Whatever your take on this chapter of British and Irish history, it’s a rewarding experience to breathe in the history and come to your own conclusions.  The  events from 1916 through to independance are marked throughout the city – the civil war not so much, but we are still a few years from this centenary.

A good starting point is the Arbour Hill cemetery.  A former British military cemetery, it’s also the burial place of 14 of the executed leaders of the 1916 Easter Rising, you can get the history on sites like Heritage Ireland.

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Sacred Heart Church, Arbour Hill

While the likes of Kilmainham Gaol, the cemetery at Glasnevin and the GPO Museum are always busy with fully booked guided tours, Arbour Hill is usually deserted.  There’s no entrance fee, no guides (except an occasional free talk at the weekend) and no shop.  Once you pass the church you’re into a fairly staid and unremarkable military cemetery.  Arbour Hill

Then towards the back, there’s the reason Arbour Hill gets visitors.  The executed leaders of the Rising were unceremoniously buried at a British military cemetery seemingly to avoid the martyrdom and pilgrimages that might stoke further unrest.  History of course had other plans for Ireland, and naturally subsequent Irish governments have developed the grave as a remembrance site.

 

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Grave of the 1916 executed leaders
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The text of the Proclamation of Independence in English and Irish

Surrounding the grave site are stones inscribed with the names of those buried – in English and Irish script.  Thomas Clarke, the old man of the Rising, had a floral tribute marking his stone.

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The names in Irish

 

One of the more fascinating characters of the Rising was James Connolly, a Scot of Irish descent, a former Britsh soldier, trade unionist and leader of the Irish Citizen Army.

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Connolly marked by the Starry Plough
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View from the 1916 memorial


Arbour Hill
The 1916 memorial

Arbour Hill is located a bit away from Dublin’s main tourist sites, on a quiet street at the rear of the Collins Barracks Museum.  It is however worth a visit if you’re doing some revolution tourism –  a site of great signifigance in Irish history and you’ve plenty of further options for the tourguides, multimedia displays and souvenir shops.

Photos were taken on a robust (heavy) Hanimex 35SL (a rebadged Chinon CS) a Pallas 35mm lens (never heard of them) using Lomography Earl Grey 100 film.

 

Ueno Park, that’s where I’ve been

what did you do there? I took photos

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Kaneiji Temple, Ueno Park

Ueno Park is a large green space in central Tokyo and a great place for a walk around the city with the camera. There’s temples, museum, a zoo, entertainment – including Taiko drumming blogged here, flea markets and plenty of people. It’s also beside a large shopping area, the Ameyoko Shopping Street so you can easily fill a day here. And like Tokyo there’s any number of JR and metro stations in the area to get here.

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Another Kimono photo
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Ameyoko shopping
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Oul lads, Ameyoko
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Blind among the flowers
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Oul lad in the park
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Strange cabbage-like plants, Ueno Park
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Flea Market bargains
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Seller of weird shit, Ueno Park

All shot on the Nikon F60 and Kentmere 400 or Kodak Tri-X

Osaka

Osaka is a nice city to visit and works well as a base for trips elsewhere (Kyoto, Hiroshima etc) albeit without an overwhelming must-see identity of its own.  It is however clean, safe, friendly  – and has a Universal Studios park.  I’d only a few days in the city armed with the Nikon F60 and Huawei P9 and got some shots.

A good place to start is downtown at the Shinsaibashi shopping street, 600 metres of covered shopping.

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Shinsaibashi shopping street, Osaka

There’s also every conceivable eating place, including a bit of crab.

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Downtown Osaka, seafood restaurant.  Crab on the menu.
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Downtown Osaka, Dotobori Canal

One of the main sites for a visit is the Osaka Castle in its large gardens. It focusses on local history and art as well as some viewpoints of the city.

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Osaka Castle
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View of the city from Osaka castle
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Osaka Castle gardens
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Osaka Castle gardens

Osaka is also the site for Japan’s Universal Studios theme park. Cue lots of Minions but I was particularly taken with Hogsmeade, Asian style.

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Hogsmeade, Japan (snow not real)
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Hogsmeade staff (Owl not real)

Practicalities – we stayed in the suburbs at the wonderful Rainbow Hostel near Imazato train station about 20 minutes from downtown.  The area was nice and quiet and you’ll not go hungry

 

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Out in the suburbs

And of course in  Shinsaibashi there are plenty of camera stores.  Nice that film is still widely used in Japan.

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just over a tenner for a three-pack of Acros

Kit:  Nikon F60 / Kentmere 100 and the Huawei P9

 

Hiroshima

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Atomic Dome, Hiroshima

Most visits to Japan will include a trip to Hiroshima – to the Peace Park with the Atomic Dome and the various monuments, and to the museum.  Like many war and memorial sites, they’ve been photographed countless times but it’s still the best way of recording your own visit, your thoughts and having an aide-memoire as one gets older.
All pictures taken on Kentmere 100 in the Nikon F60.

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Atomic Dome detail
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Atomic Dome – rear view
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Memorial by the Motoyasu river

There are a number of peace activists and displays around the park.  This is an in-utero survivor from the bombing meeting with tourists.

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In-utero survivor
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Eternal flame – possibly colour would have been a better choice
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Students memorial
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Workers memorial
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More riverside statues
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Memorial Hall
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Children’s Peace Monument
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Inside Memorial Hall
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Museum

A few practicalities.
The best way of getting to Hiroshima is by the fast JR train – the pass is great value
http://www.japanrailpass.net/en/

At the station there is a free bus that goes around the city including a stop at the Peace Park.  There are also Tourism Meeter/Greeters around the station who are really helpful.

 

Tokyo: Asakusa

The Asakusa district in Tokyo is a real tourist trap, traditionally a ‘pleasure quarter’ – we don’t have many of those in NI.. – it’s a great day trip for the temple and the market.

Photographically I arrived with an  Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100 which had a broken meter so was shooting manually on 1/40th – and a Nikon F60 loaded with Tri-X.  On probably the brightest sunniest day of the year.  Probably a case for digital..

Anyway  – the Sensoji temple

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Sensoji Temple – Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100

 

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Sensoji Temple – Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100

 

A Chōzuya,  for pre-worship purification

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Chōzuya.  Nikon F60/Kodak Tri-X

Then for shopping, there is the Nakamise arcade area.

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Entrance to Nakamise, Nikon F60/Kodak Tri-X
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Posing in kimonos while shopping.  Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X 
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Souvenirs.  Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X

It’s a smallish area but you can still be sold the guided tours

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Tour guide. Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X
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Random music parade.  Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X
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Kimomos and umbrella.  Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100
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Just the umbrella.  Olympus Trip 35 / Fomapan 100
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Just the kimonos. Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X
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Quieter moment.  Nikon F60/Kodak Tri-X
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Covered arcade. Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X
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Information.  Nikon F60 / Kodak Tri-X

The magic of travel is that at home two of the least likely things I would do would be worship and shop. With or without the camera.

Tokyo: Shinjuku and Ginza

It’s busy…acros_tokyo_shinjuku_shopping

Compared to Northern Ireland, Tokyo is an assault on the senses – the crowds, the skyline, the neon – and I love it. Another major difference is the abundance of camera stores and the availability of second hand kit and film. I stocked up on Fuji Acros 35mm – at about 60% of the UK price. (as news arrives of its imminent disappearance..)

Shinjuku and Ginza are districts that don’t seem to stop and are probably most like the image many people have of Tokyo before visiting.  There’s the architecture…

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Curvy Tokyo
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braided Tokyo

The taxis are classy looking 80’s styled Toyotas. They are however bloody expensive, so it was exterior shots only.

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Tokyo Taxis, Ginza

There are many eating options – local as well as global burgers

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stand up for the sushi, Shinjuku

And claw grabbing is a local pastime..

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restocking the minions

Of course, at some point Godzilla was going to make an appearance

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Cinema and Godzilla, Shinjuku

Kit was Fuji Acros 100 and the ever reliable Nikon F60.