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PEOPLE OF GALWAY; THIS IS ANDREW #ThisIsGalway “Irish food to me sometimes can be a little tired – bacon and cabbage, stew. One of my favourite things is mackerel – I was looking at cookbooks, and mackerel and horseradish cream kept occurring and reoccurring. Mackerel was the first dish I fell in love with as a kid – you couldn’t even get a fish finger down my throat, and then I was out fishing in Connemara with my relatives, we caught some mackerel and I instantly fell in love with fish.” The Galway candidate for this year’s European Young Chef Award, Andrew Ishmael, was tasked with creating a dish that was a modern twist on an Irish classic. He chose to make a mackerel ceviche, a Peruvian-style dish, using locally caught mackerel. – Andrew . Photo by @macchoncarraige . . We’re having the chats with #PeopleofGalway for the craic — messers and chancers, artists and tourists, buskers and shopkeepers, and any other unwitting victims we meet on the street. . . . #peopleofgalway #galway2020 #wildatlanticway #humansofgalway #katie #havingthechats #galwaybants #thisisgalway #galwayheads #discoverireland #portraitphotography #streetphotography #interestingfaces #galwaycharacters
By Sinéad Walsh
What are you most passionate about right now? For most of us, it’s a difficult question to answer. NUI Galway student Ciarán MacChoncarraige is posing difficult questions like this to the people on the streets of Galway, and uncovering the most heart – warming, hilarious and quirky responses.
Through the Instagram page of Galway’s captivating events guide, This Is Galway (@thisisgalway), Ciarán has begun documenting the untold stories of artists, tourists, locals, buskers, shopkeepers and unsuspecting coffee – sippers. The movement is called #PeopleOfGalway, and it showcases the very depths of the city’s diversity.
‘People of Galway’ is a series of street portraits taken by Ciarán, accompanied by emotional and powerful excerpts of his conversations with Galway’s inhabitants. The subjects are as diverse as one can imagine; stories from young and old, male and female, natives, visitors and everyone else in between.
Ciarán is a final year Spanish and French student in NUI Galway and commenced his photography venture just six months ago when he picked up a camera and everything fell into place.
“I felt like it was magic as soon as I picked up a camera,” Ciarán explains. What once began with annoying his friends by constantly snapping their photo has blossomed into carefully poised and structured portraits that hold a magnitude of emotion, and paved the way for documenting the people of this unique city.
A Galway native himself, Ciarán exudes a deeply – rooted passion for showcasing Galway city and its people, for telling stories that wouldn’t otherwise be told, and doing something in Galway that hasn’t been done before.
Taking inspiration from the powerful ‘Humans of New York’ sensation, Ciarán cites Brandon Stanton as his muse. Despite this, Ciarán has brought his own flair and personality to this project and after reading the powerful sentiments that accompany his portraits, one cannot but wonder how he has procured such intimate stories.
The aspiring photo journalist relays how his passion for street photography began while on an Erasmus in France, using his sister’s borrowed DSLR. What began with taking candid photos of his friends progressed into a miniseries called ‘The People of Nuance’, produced while on a weekend trip by taking street portraits of strangers and asking them their stories.
Ciarán admits; “it was a very primitive version of what [People of Galway] is.” Following his success collecting intimate stories from people on the streets of France, Ciarán was inspired to continue this back home. He considers this the origin of his photography journey; “That was the beginning for me. I started in the deep-end.”
So, what is the secret to unravelling a stranger’s story? He explains that it was difficult in the beginning – traditionally, Irish people are not receptible to the prying questions of strangers. But Ciarán approaches people in a personal way, he asks for a chat and a photo and it all takes off from there. He explains that it isn’t quite as nerve – wrecking as it would seem. It’s simply about finding the right person and reaching out to them on a personal level.
Ciarán’s attitude is something many of us could learn from, considering the many people each of us pass by every day that we never have the courage to reach out to. “It’s incredible how many cool people you meet when you just put yourself out there,” he reminds us.
In the digital age of smartphones and social media, how many of us really take the time to get to know those around us? How many times have we been intrigued by someone but never truly made the effort to uncover their story? How many of us are willing to breakdown the intangible barriers separating us from passers – by and establish a genuine human connection?
Ciarán MacChonarraige is taking steps towards breaking down these barriers; he is inviting us into the lives of the people we are too afraid to approach, and he is telling the stories that otherwise may not be told. This is the essence behind Ciarán’s project, and combined with the mastery of his street portraits, #PeopleOfGalway leaves a powerful impact.
So, what’s next for Ciarán? The aspiring photojournalist has many more creative ideas up his sleeve including exhibitions, new projects and photography workshops to hand down his valuable lessons to others. Just as he has invited us into each other’s lives through the project ‘People of Galway’, Ciarán would like to disassemble the traditional structure of galleries and exhibitions, and make his own work accessible to all.
Ciarán’s ambition and obsessive desire to improve signify that there is a lot more to come from this NUI Galway student – so watch this space. “I feel I have a lot more to offer the world in terms of documentary and photo journalism,” Ciarán acknowledges.