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Where: 1 Cois Trá Lower, Dungeagan, Co. Kerry, Ireland

Try to find the spot where the photographer was standing.

When: Unknown

Try to find the date or year when this image was made.
An idyllic summer's day. Captured (not once but twice it seems) on the lawn at Ballinskelligs, I am intrigued by the two "barber shop" poles in the background. What were they for? Happy Fotografic Friday everybody!

And so we learned that the beacons (as with much else in this image) are now no longer standing. However, they were likely warnings to vessels not to damage the undersea telegraph cable by dropping or dragging anchor nearby. We also learned that the Ballinskelligs cable station was operated by the Anglo-American Telegraph Company, and later by Western Union. It was closed in 1923. And (clearly) entirely demolished since then....

Photographer: Robert French

Collection: Lawrence Photograph Collection

Date: Catalogue range c.1865-1914. Possibly early 1900s

NLI Ref: L_CAB_08470

You can also view this image, and many thousands of others, on the NLI’s catalogue at


Owner: National Library of Ireland on The Commons
Source: Flickr Commons
Views: 34958
robertfrench williamlawrence lawrencecollection lawrencephotographicstudio thelawrencephotographcollection glassnegative nationallibraryofireland ballinskelligs cokerry ireland lawn tennis croquet photographer tripod camera group ladies poles houses bungalows sea beach explore countykerry cablestation photography beacon navigationaid cable telegraphstation angloamericantelegraphcompany westernunion pose

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    • 10/Feb/2017 09:50:00

    The striped poles are beacons - navigation aids for boats.,443338,565955,12,9

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    • 10/Feb/2017 09:54:02

    As the setting is on the shoreline, I would guess they are a Nautical Marker, in lieu of a Light House. Could even be some form of Nautical signal station/beacon. As there are two, maybe align them, as the ship's/boat's pilot/Captain nears the shoreline guides the vessel safely in. Guessing only.

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    • 10/Feb/2017 10:03:39

    Like the tennis players!

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    • 10/Feb/2017 10:06:55

    I wouldn't mind that camera. Wonder where it is today.

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    Owen J Fitzpatrick

    • 10/Feb/2017 10:07:15

    Wonderful Flickr post and photo. I'd also love to know the make of that camera on the tripod in the field. Who's the photographer and what's the photoshoot all about? Great Flickr work as always by National Library of Ireland on The Commons.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 10/Feb/2017 10:28:01

    Looks like these buildings are all gone, and there is a mobile home park there now.

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    • 10/Feb/2017 10:29:41

    Great vintage Irish photography.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 10/Feb/2017 10:31:08

    Same pic is here in colour, illustrating a history of the cable station: In 1874 the company established a cable station in Ballinskelligs. Soon after however the Anglo American Cable Company took a majority shareholding in the British company and a connecting cable was laid from the Ballinskelligs station to the Valentia cable station. Anglo American subsequently leased the line to the telecommunications company Western Union who continued the lease up until 1920. The business was then sold to the British Post Office. The British Post office diverted the European end of the cable to Cornwall in 1923 and the Ballinskelligs cable station was closed.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 10/Feb/2017 10:35:43

    There was another cable station at nearby Waterville.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 10/Feb/2017 10:37:54

    The local pub is still called Cable O'Leary's

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    • 10/Feb/2017 10:38:45

    It's either twenty past ten or twenty past four on the clock

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    Niall McAuley

    • 10/Feb/2017 10:44:32

    16 people in the 1911 census in Ballinskelligs matching telegraph*

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    Niall McAuley

    • 10/Feb/2017 10:47:11

    Crew in 1901

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    Niall McAuley

    • 10/Feb/2017 10:51:11

    Why would the cable station need a pair of beacons? During cable laying, sure, but they weren't doing that every week?

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    Niall McAuley

    • 10/Feb/2017 10:51:55

    Reverse view in the archive.

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    • 10/Feb/2017 10:53:50

    As [] mentions, it's interesting how little (if any at all) of the cable station buildings survive. The photography session looks to be taking place in or close to what is now the premises of a bag-manufacturing company. The map, and Niall's "reverse view" would seem to confirm that French was likely standing on the lawns of Kinard House. (Which perhaps did survive(??). Certainly looks to be "for sale" in the 2009 StreetView).

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    • 10/Feb/2017 10:54:03

    I think the beacons or barber's poles were to warn ships of the direction or line of the cable, particularly not to drop or drag anchors nearby.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 10/Feb/2017 10:56:58

    3 lads in 1911 match "cable".

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    Niall McAuley

    • 10/Feb/2017 11:10:53

    A piece of the cable for sale in 2015.

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    Niall McAuley

    • 10/Feb/2017 11:13:55

    Any fashion critics out there? The ladies are in light colours, some gents wearing straw boaters... 1905 ish?

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    • 10/Feb/2017 11:17:48

    *** 1916 TRAGEDY KLAXON *** Three sisters widowed by a boating accident in Ballinskelligs Bay. Read All About It! -

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    Dún Laoghaire Micheál

    • 10/Feb/2017 11:31:49

    [] has it right (again). And not only to warn other shipping, but also to remind themselves where they put it in case it needs servicing.

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    La Belle Province

    • 10/Feb/2017 13:13:46

    [] You rang? Those boaters and Gibson Girl droopy sleeves on the ladies say 1905ish to me.

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    • 10/Feb/2017 17:42:51

    Mary, what a great photo to end the week, one of your best!!!

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    • 10/Feb/2017 18:06:46

    From HO 146 - British Islands Pilot Volume III - The Coasts of Ireland. US Navy Hydrographic Office, 1917 A submarine telegraph cable extends from the western shore nearly 1/2 mile northeastward of Abbey Castle in a direction of two pole beacons 208 feet apart which in line bear 300°. At night these beacons show each a fixed red lantern light from a height of 16 feet above the ground. Vessels are cautioned not to anchor in the vicinity of this cable

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    • 10/Feb/2017 19:04:30

    Chairs, fireside chairs Ballinskelligs. Photo theatrical. Lingvistic thought quote courtesy of Macmillan Dictionary "you mustn't discuss this beyond these four walls" Ballinskelligs you mustn't discuss this beyond this fireplace.

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    Frank Fullard

    • 10/Feb/2017 23:55:46

    This is wonderful! The poles are definitely navigation aids.

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    • 11/Feb/2017 11:57:15

    interesting photo!

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    • 11/Feb/2017 12:47:22

    👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏 👍👍👍Excellent Photography👍👍👍 👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏👏

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    @PAkDocK /

    • 11/Feb/2017 13:13:05

    Nice shot!! Interesting composition. Regards

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    • 11/Feb/2017 14:31:16

    [] It is in the morning looking at the shadows

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    • 11/Feb/2017 17:10:17

    First class !!!

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    rich lewis

    • 11/Feb/2017 17:52:57

    Great capture

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    National Library of Ireland on The Commons

    • 11/Feb/2017 20:12:11

    Thanks everyone for the incredible inputs - and [] for the hint/suggestion on the date :) I've attempted to summarise the key learnings in the description (and map and tags). Have a great weekend all!

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    russ david

    • 11/Feb/2017 21:44:11

    Wonderful capture!!

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    • 11/Feb/2017 23:23:50

    Excellent shot

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    • 12/Feb/2017 01:49:05


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    • 15/Apr/2017 23:52:08

    Great to see this photo posted here. My mother was born in Ballinskelligs in 1920 and knew alot about the cable station history and many of the people that worked there. Her Grandfather built the hotel next to the cable station and was called Sigerson Arms hotel and was in the family for many years until it was sold in the early years of this century and know known as Cables

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    • 17/Apr/2017 09:46:26

    [[email protected]] Did you find this photo of the hotel in the archive - ? Are those people your rellies ?