Everything Gourmet

Martin Parr: An Iconic Eye on the Irish

Manorhamilton Sheep Fair, County Leitrim, 1981. Photo ©Martin Parr. Courtesy Centre Cultural Irlandais. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Paris, France — Photographer, chronicler, photojournalist, Martin Parr is known for the depth and breadth of his photography projects. At times the approach is satirical, anthropological, but always offering a unique insight into a particular world. His Ireland series is no exception as the photographs currently and fittingly on exhibition at the Irish Cultural Institute in Paris coherently demonstrate. The iconic British photographer would seize moments in Ireland between 1979 and 2019, even settling there in the early 1980s. Throughout his myriad visits he would record a country undergoing a certain transformation fueled by Americanization and its Celtic Tiger period when the country experienced real and strong economic growth from the mid 1990s to the late 2000s, spurred on, notably, by foreign investment. 

Bus tour of the Parliament Buildings at Stormont, Belfast, 2008. Photo ©Martin Parr. Courtesy Centre Cultural Irlandais. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

Street scenes, the Parliament in Belfast, the Pope’s visit in 1979 are among the more poignant photographs. Parr’s exceptional talent and eye enabled him to capture decisive moments, clearly evident in the show. Horse races, livestock markets, dance halls and beach side scenes in black and white and later on in color reveal a certain essence of Irish society. The body of work sways from an historic account to social reportage and outright documentary.

Dublin street scene, 1986. Photo ©Martin Parr. Courtesy Centre Cultural Irlandais. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

In 1994, Martin Parr became a full member of the Magnum Photographic Cooperative and was awarded the Sony World Photography Award for Outstanding Contribution to Photography in April 2017. He was awarded Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (the CBE) in the Queen’s birthday honors in June, 2021. His photographs have been exhibited in museums and galleries throughout the world. 

The Pope gives mass at Phoenix Park, Dublin, Ireland, 1979. Photo ©Martin Parr. Courtesy Centre Cultural Irlandais. Handout via The Gourmet Gazette

The Centre Cultural Irlandais – The Irish Cultural Center in Paris hosts exhibitions and artists in residence with a library and conferences all on the agenda. It is located in the heart of the Latin Quarter in the historic Collège des Irlandais, a former residence for a major Irish community of priests, seminarians and lay students and whose origins can be traced back to 1578. Father John Lee of Waterford created the first Irish collegiate community abroad in 1578 when six of his students entered the Collège de Montaigu of the University of Paris. Today the mission of the Irish Cultural Institute is to represent and promote Irish culture in France. The Martin Parr exhibition is running until January 8th.

©Trish Valicenti for The Gourmet Gazette

5 Rue des Irlandais 

75005 Paris, France 

+33 (0)1 58 52 10 30


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