Photographer's Note

I posted this photo a while ago but deleted it as I wanted to respect this wonderful gentlemans privacy. Ive decided to re-post it as his family loved it. In fact Im sad but honoured to say that they used this photo at his funeral this year, when he passed away at an age well into his nineties.

Although the photo looks a bit posed, it in fact wasnt at all. Charlie was actually looking away from me, enjoying his Irish whiskey as I focused, but then he looked right down the barrel of the lens when I pressed the shutter with those brilliant blue eyes of his.

Have you ever met a person that makes a lasting impression on you even if the meeting is very fleeting? It doesnt matter about their age, their race, religion or the language they speak. You just get them and they get you, and youre touched forever. On Christmas Day 2003 in a pub in County Tyrone, I met Charlie. And I will never forget him.

Obviously, the photo is in Black & White. I wanted to try and make it look timeless and I was using an old manual point and shoot camera, so the quality isnt great. It will never convey to you the twinkle in his eyes and that amazing quiet presence the man had, but hopefully it will give you a hint.

Talking to Charlie I tried to imagine what those beautiful blue eyes had seen in his eighty years, for this was almost 10 years ago. He lived through a time when the island of Ireland was one, not two different countries. He lived through the act of partition making it two countries. He lived under British occupation, there is a military barracks in his town to this very day. He voted in elections gerrymandered by the Protestant majority, so that Catholics were discriminated against in every walk of life. He withstood internment without trial. His parents and grandparents lived through the Irish potato famine, which killed 6 million people. And he knew hunger and poverty himself, although on a different scale. He saw two world wars and the rationing of food. He lived through the Depression and many recessions after that. Saw paramilitaries on both sides of the political divide terrorise and devastate his town and country, for Castlederg is unhappily known as the most bombed town in Northern Ireland. He lived through a time when there was no running water, central heating or electricity and when a man was paid 15 pence a day to cut turf to keep his family warm. He lived through The Troubles, Bloody Sunday, the sectarian violence, the bombs. He saw the Good Friday Agreement signed, saw peace in Ireland and Northern Ireland and a Catholic man become Deputy Minister in Westminster. He lived a hard life but one that was full of music, love and storytelling. He gave his wife, his children and his grandchildren a wonderful life. And I was very lucky to have known him for the time I did.

Go raibh do ghloine ln go deo. Go raibh lidir go bre, an dion thar do cheann. Go raibh t Neamh, leathair os comhair a bhfuil a fhos ag an diabhal at t bs.

O manam, go raibh maith agat

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Additional Photos by Lisa DP (delpeoples) Gold Star Critiquer/Gold Star Workshop Editor/Gold Note Writer [C: 5632 W: 351 N: 12436] (60286)
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