Ireland: A Love Poem

When photographer Jill Freedman visited Ireland in the 1960s, she found the traditional music enchanting. Returning in 1973, she began documenting life in the Irish countryside, focusing on singular moments that tell a story. She said, “I think of my work in Ireland as a love poem: a celebration of the beauty of the land, the warmth of her people, the simplicity of the old ways and traditions, the humor and conviviality, the sharp wit and black moods, the kindness.”

freedman_jill_50_1988Jill Freedman, Fiddlers Light, County Donegal, 1974 (50.1988)

For Freedman, “a people are the place.” While the landscape of Ireland is certainly beautiful, Freedman is more interested in the people who live there and make Ireland a place she wants to come back to again and again. Her photography reflects her view of Ireland as a place of “warm welcomes” and “Guinness fresh as mother’s milk.”

freedman_jill_31_1988Jill Freedman, Thirsty Pony, County Kerry, 1985 (31.1988)

freedman_jill_51_1988Jill Freedman, The old dog for the long road, County Kerry, 1981 (51.1988)

Freedman’s goal is both to document the traditional ways of life before they disappear and to break down stereotypes. When people think of Ireland, she argues, they tend to think of either the violent history of Northern Ireland or the cliched images of green fields and freckle-faced youths presented in television and movies. But Freedman’s photographs go deeper into Irish culture to reveal a people both “wild and passionate” and “older, gentler” than we are used to seeing.

freedman_jill_46_1988Jill Freedman, Fleadh Cheoil, County Kerry, 1981 (46.1988)

freedman_jill_43_1988Jill Freedman, The Silver Fleece, County Leitrim, 1973 (43.1988)

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