Little, Brown – 2001
Like journalists, photographers are chroniclers of our time, cataloguing events with images and words, capturing moments that would otherwise be lost in time. We've all seen this sort of book before, representing the brand of Irish shamrock and shenanigans that tourists envisage Ireland to be teeming with year round. So when yet another such tome arrives on the market, is it inconceivable to hope for a photographic project capturing twenty-first century Ireland that looks through a fresh lens? Apparently so, after a thorough perusal of Richard Turpin's 'Enchanted Ireland'.
While the quality of Turpin's work is indisputable, it never even comes close to encapsulating the Irish zeitgeist. Pick an Irish cliché, and you can bet a leprechaun's pot of gold that it's in here somewhere wedged between red-haired colleens and thatched cottages. There are more quaint pub and shop fronts than you can shake a shillelagh at. Ruddy-cheeked fishermen and scenes of profuse Guinness-quaffing at agricultural fairs abound, as do be-ringleted Irish dancers, religious iconography, horses, pubs and even more Guinness.
There are beautiful landscapes, sunsets on religious ruins and quaint fishing ports aplenty but it's nothing we haven't seen before. There is nothing particularly representative of Ireland's favourite feline, the Celtic Tiger and, more importantly for an emerging multi-cultural nation, every face in every photo is white. These photographs could have been taken ten or twenty years ago, stymied by the brand of cosmetic, faux Irishness that masquerades as Irish heritage. This is your kind of thing if you like your representation of Ireland to be of the 'Comely Maidens dancing at the cross roads' type but the book should really be called 'Predictable/ Unimaginative/Out-of-touch with reality Oirland.'