The Monksgrange photographic archive holds 10,000+ images. These include daguerreotypes, ambrotypes, tintypes, glass plate and acetate negatives, lantern slides and positive prints.

There is an important collection of 800 glass plate negatives, 300 acetate negatives, 150 lantern slides and almost 1000 positives – all the work of Goddard H. Orpen (1852-1932.)

The Orpen negatives have been digitised and masterprints have been archived. Work in progress includes digitising the positive prints and listing/detailing each image.

During 2022 we will introduce one image each month and these will shown on Facebook (Monksgrange Archives) and on the website:


GOAP 0494. BENDERS ON THE LONG ACRE. c1895 Glass plate negative , 16.50 x 12.07 cm.

©Monksgrange Archives

One of the earliest styles of recognizable tent structure, the bender has a long tradition as a shelter and was used by European Romany gypsies before the development of travelling wagons with cylindrical tops. Flexible branches of ash, hazel or willow were bent to form a half circle shape which supported tarpaulins held together with blackthorn pins.

Orpen’s image is one of several records of his ethnographic documentation and was probably taken during the 1895 trip of members of the Royal Society of Antiquaries of Ireland (of which he was President in 1930) round the north and north-west coast of Ireland. The cooperation of the travellers in allowing the photography indicates Orpen’s ability to gain the confidence of his subjects. The diagonals of the rutted road and the horizon create a dynamic sense of movement along the direction of the road indicated by the unladen cart. An uphill struggle, bounded by an unyielding stone wall, is implied without hint of a future at the road’s end or to its right. The poignant expression of the man on the left is an acutely observed portrait of acceptance of the hard life on the road.