On Sunday morning last two tourists tucked into two crusty breakfast rolls sitting on the kerb-side outside a shop at the foot of the town in Letterkenny.
I struck up a conversation with the couple as I made my way to my own car. They came up to Donegal from Galway for the weekend. Their car had a very unique colour, kinda a pewter.
“It’s in the tax book as brown’ one of them said, “that’s if you could see it with all the flies stuck to the front bonnet and grill.”
The photographer in me could see everything that they told me before they opened their mouth to speak. The registration plate on their car was from Galway.
The two in their mid 30s were comfortable sitting on the low kerb of the footpath eating their breakfast and with their coffees sitting beside them on the footpath something they might not be as comfortable doing if it was in their own town.
The thought crossed my mind to ask one of them to let me have one of their phones so I could take a photo of them enjoying each other’s company but my fear was that they would default into something that was more presentable for a social media post.
Rather than the image of them on their journey to Donegal that Sunday morning, I imagined them ending up at some beautiful landmark where they would record the standard staycation snap for another perfect picture.
Last few weeks
Even at the end of the lockdown or going into another one August still feels like August as in that last minute dash to get those things you promised to do in the summer before a new term starts whatever that may be.
This year is a bit of a different family together with restrictions in place since the start of March.
We have probably taken more photos of our own county than we ever have this year as we head off on staycation trips and post our pictures and embrace the drive to have our holidays at home.
Establishing the photo
Everyone has posed for a picture with a roll of toilet roll or took a picture of an empty shelf in a supermarket for the frenzy at the start of this pandemic. But if it was possible to look past the typical Facebook or Instagram or twitter type picture post and just stop and think a bit differently about an opportunity to record events in your life in pictures of your journey through history, ones that won’t see the social media platforms
Get the car in
Years ago, long before data protection, it was so important to get a family car into a photo everyone gathered around it, maybe at the start of a journey leaving the front door.
It was always important to get the number plate which automatically gave your photo a time in your life.
Old photos in my family all have traces of the first van my grandfather owned, even though most of the people in these photos are long gone.
This van in the picture will help me paint the picture. Pictured of it parked out in Ballymacool Terrace. With my granny at the door or down in Kerry visiting my aunt Rosaleen with one of her children sitting up on the bonnet right to one old photo that didn’t come out of Fr. Mark standing beside the old van in the background still has a story to tell.
Even old photos that I have taken for news stories looked so much more dated if the mode of transport was included in the photo.
Things like Marley’s Donegal Team bus when it arrived into Donegal with the Sam Maguire Cup in 1992, or of Alan Dukes on Tory Island in the 1980s on the back of a trailer all date a picture better than anything.
716 EI was the registration of the first vehicle I ever owned myself, well it would have been mine when I paid all the payments to Lombard and Ulster Bank.
Actually, it wasn’t a car, it was a blue Toyota Litace bread van. It was petrol, column change and the handbrake was in the dash. It had cream leatherette seats and dash. My neighbour Mick Dunleavey made the shelving in his workshop at the back of his house in Wolfe Tone Place out of angle iron for me which fitted the bread trays from Ormo Bakery.
My Uncle Pat gave me an old bus conductor’s money bag and Ormo gave each bread agent a kakki/cream shop coat with a purple collar. And that was you ready for the road.
I only have memories of these and even though there was always a camera at hand, I never thought to take a photo of that old van, thankfully memories of 20 years ago.
I did have photos of one of our old family cars, a VW Golf 98 DL 3776 filling up with diesel at the old petrol pumps at Monica Murphy’s on the Port Road before it closed up.
Pictured are the next generation of Murphys gathered around on that last day putting fuel in.
I have also a picture of myself filling up with them old kerbside petrol pumps in the foreground and O’Boyce’s old house in the background and the old garden with the big advertising hoarding in the garden which is now just a memory, if it wasn’t for these offbeat photos that were taken at the time.
So when you are taking your staycation photos keep an eye out for that wee image that might not be good enough to post but good enough in years to come to record memories of this unique journey we’re going through in the year 2020.
Pictures that show your car, that wallpaper, that back yard, that fringe. Capture the stuff that you say you won’t capture until it’s sorted because that’s the stuff you’ll remember when all this journey with a difference is all over.
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