Greystones Through A 19th Century Lens

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His work currently sitting pretty in the National Gallery of Ireland as part of The Lawrence Collection, Robert French spent much of his life in the late 19th century photographing Ireland.

And one of his most popular destinations would appear to be Greystones – which may have had something to do with the fact the man lived on Church Road for many years. 

William Mervin Lawrence opened up his photographic studio in 1865, opposite the GPO (where he was born), and employed Robert French as his chief photographer. Over the coming years, French and his team photographed pretty much every corner of Ireland – which may explain why The Lawrence Collection has 40,000 glass plates, mainly from the period 1880 to 1914.

French was born in Dublin, working in the Royal Irish Constabulary before joining the Lawrence Studio, quickly working his way up from print to chief photographer. Sam French, one of the photographer’s sons, was still living in the family home on Church Road when he passed in the 1970s.

French took over 30,000 of the photographs in The Lawrence Collection. You can find out more about this remarkable archive here, and see how local filmmaker Jake McKone contrasts French photographs with Greystones today right here. Plus, local fisherman-turned-author Seamus Hayden analyses French’s Greystones work here. Oh, and lots more incredible historical shots in our ever-growing archives here.

For now, here’s the prettiest shots Lawrence ever did see. Being the mad sexy beasts that we are, we’ve included our neighbouring towns here, as well as a shot of what is believed to be a young Robert French in Greystones [left], and a shot of his son, Robert Griffith French, on manoeuvres at the Curragh in Co Kildare, circa 1905… 

Harbour, Greystones by Robert French

You can bring a horse to the harbour… Pic: Robert French

Greystones Jetty Pier. Pic: Robert French

North Beach Harbour. Pic: Robert French

The Sugar Loaf from Blackberry Lane. Robert French.

Grand Hotel Robert French

Sugarloaf Mountain Robert French

South Beach (detail). Pic: Robert French

Robert French Harbour Shot Detail

North Beach Cottages. Robert French

North Beach Bathing Huts detail from Robert French pic

Little Sugar Loaf Robert French

La Touche Hotel & Cove Pic Robert French

Harbour including Dann’s Shop. Pic: Robert French

Greystones Harbour Boats Three Men Robert French

Greystones Golf Club House Pic Robert French

Trafalgar Road. Robert French

Greystones Golf. Pic: Robert French

General View Greystones Pic Robert French (from La Touche Hotel roof)

Delgany General View Robert French

That Robert French Delgany scene colorised

Cherry Orchard, Killincarrig Pic Robert French

Bridge Road Pic Robert French

Blacklion Church Robert French

Bathing Place – The Cove Robert French

Glen Of The Downs Sugarloaf Robert French

St Patrick’s Church with lime kiln (later Jubillee Castle) Robert French

Railway Station, Bray by Robert French c.1890

Bray Seafront from above by Robert French c.1890

Bray Head Boats by Robert French c.1890

Martello Terrace by Robert French c.1890

Bray Promenade by Robert French c 1890

Bray Promenade with a rockin’ tent. Pic: Robert French c.1890

Christ Church, Delgany. Pic: Robert French

Carmelite Monastery Late 19th Century. Pic Robert French

Bray Head Regatta by Robert French c.1890

Young Sweeney on his ass. Pic: Robert French

Glen Of The Downs Robert French

Glen Of The Downs Robert French

Burnaby Estate Robert French

General View Greystones Robert French

Church Greystones Robert French

Bathing Place – The Cove Robert French

Greystones Railway Station Pic: Robert French

Greystones South Beach Bathing Boxes. Pic: Robert French

Christ Church, Bray. Pic: Robert French

Harbour Boats Pic Robert French

Greystones Pier Pic Robert French

Greystones Trafalgar Road Robert French

Greystones South Beach Robert French

Greystones South Beach Damaged Robert French

Greystones South Beach and Railway Robert French

Greystones Sailing Robert French

Greystones Harbour Robert French

Grand Hotel Rear Robert French

Church Road Late 19th Century. Pic Robert French

Church Road Late 19th Century. Pic Robert French

Robert Griffith French, Sgt Major in 2nd Battaltion Royal Dublin Fusilliers 1905

St Patrick’s Church, 1880, with, possibly, a young Robert French

Check out our colourisation of French here, and then go explore the bould Harry Acheson’s 1950s, ’60s and ’70s shots of Greystones here.