Galway Camera Club:- A Brief History
The present club was established in 1975 at a meeting in Giblin’s Hotel, Now part of TKMaxx department store on Prospect Hill. It was however preceded by a similar club founded in the late 1950’s which survived until the late 1960’s. Donal Taheny, the esteemed historian and teacher who passed away on the 21st October 2014 was a member of the club in the 1950’s and a life member of the present day club. The first club followed the same format as the previous club meeting weekly at the Odeon Hotel, which is now an office block adjoining St. Patrick’s Avenue on the Easy side of Eyre Square and had an average membership of thirty.
The club as it exists today was reformed in 1975 when a group of like minded people, Brian Calgary, Denis Ryan, Collette McNamara, Cecil O’Connor, Kevin Silke, P. J. O’Connor and James Parslow all of whom, having a keen interest in photography, would meet on a weekly basis with Brian Callagy becoming the clubs first chairman, a title which he held many times up until his passing in October 21, 2011. In the relativly impoverished 1970’s the club was seriously under-resourced and for six or seven years operated free gratis from a storeroom in the Cottage Bar in Salthill which was run by the McLoughlin Family. The room required the re-arrangement of spare chairs, pub furniture and stout barrels before every meeting. The club had only a small membership and was not thriving until a chance meeting with Peter Slattery, in his shop on O’Connell Street, Dublin. Slattery, whose name has been synonymous with photography in Ireland for over 50 years, recommended that the new club should hold an annual exhibition as a focal point. There and then he presented a fine cup for the best entry in an annual exhibition, which was required to be held the following year 1976. Membership fees for the club’s first season 75/76 were £5, £2 and £2.50 with a membership of 43.
Subsequently membership increased and a large room was obtained in UCG, again free gratis, from the late Buildings Officer, Gerry Lee. His successor subseqyently demended a high annual rent and this led to the club changing to the present premises at Cluan Mhuire (GMIT) on the Wellpark Road. Also in 1976 the club applied for, and received, membership to of The Photographic Society of Ireland which has since become the IPF the “Irish Photographic Federation”. The IPF holds national, individual and inter club competitions that are assessed by international recognized judges. It grants three photographic distinctions (LIPF, AIPF & FIPF) that are assessed by panels of 3,5 & 7 judges respectively. Many experienced members of the club hold these distinctions and newer members are always encouraged to submit photographic panels to assist in the development of their own work.
Many people feared that the advent of digital photography would hasten the demise of camera clubs but it has had the opposite effect. It enabled photographers to be much more creative than previously. A whole new generation of young talented photographers has emerged and are producing exciting and highly imaginative work. This has attracted many newcomers to the club and the membership has steadily increased to where it now stands at well over 100 members.
Club membership encompasses a wide segment of modern society and is a forum for lively debate in a common shared passion for photography. There is also a very good social atmosphere within the club, especially among our new members once the ice is broken (which generally doesn’t take very long) and it is continued right through out the year with outings, competitions and of course our Christmas party. You don’t have to own a camera to join the club as beginners can get practical advice on which cameras and equipment to purchase from the more seasoned members, and of course, by becoming a member you will have access to our very sought after beginner classes which run for the duration of the clubs year. The classes, which start at 7pm, are also held in the White Room and end at 8, the main club meeting starts then and runs to 10pm when we all adjourn to the Huntsman for a few social drinks.
Club Programme 1976 and The Photographic Society of Ireland acceptance letter