“This country has undergone cataclysmic changes,” Irish photographer Seamus Murphy tells TIME. “It’s not just pink-faced people in a two-dimensional world. A lot of money has come in and out, and a couple of generations of people are entering, but the comedy, magic and lawlessness that is Ireland persists.”
Seamus Murphy’s latest book, released in Europe ahead of the 100th anniversary of the 1916 armed uprising against British rule, offers a more nuanced look at modern-day Ireland—from the busy streets of Dublin to the immigrant-filled suburbs, wilder western shores, and new and aging landmarks.
Murphy, who considers himself an outsider to his home country, recalls a “frustrating” coming of age in a country begat by revolutionaries. “With every book, film or piece of music I digested the world beckoned and the road lead elsewhere,” he wrote in book’s foreword. “I couldn’t wait to leave.”
At 22, he set his sight on America, before continuing on to the Middle East, Asia, Africa and Latin America. The idea to photograph Ireland didn’t crystallize until 2012—on an eight-hour night trek through regime-held villages in Syria—when he remembered meeting Irish veterans. “I had traveled a lot, shooting pictures and listening to stories in other people’s countries. What about looking at my own country?” he wrote. “Now, over 30 years since leaving; an exile, escapee and outsider, I could try again.”
In 2014, Murphy began capturing images of Ireland. “I was looking for what often goes unnoticed and unrecorded, what moved and surprised me,” he explained. “Beyond all the revision, myths, politics and spin there should be some room left for dreams and wonder. After all, looking up at the stars on a clear night over County Roscommon can get a person thinking.”
Seamus Murphy is an Irish photographer who lives in London. He is the recipient of seven World Press Photo awards.
Michelle Molloy, who edited this photo essay, is a senior international photo editor at TIME.
- TIME's Top 100 Photos of 2021
- Inside Frances Haugen's Decision to Take on Facebook
- Why We Should Stop Freaking Out About Inflation
- Austria's Plan to Make COVID-19 Vaccines Compulsory Is Dividing Citizens — and Experts
- Inside the 80-Year Quest to Name Pearl Harbor's Unknown Victims
- Buying a House Feels Impossible These Days. Here Are 6 Innovative Paths to Homeownership
- 'They're Very Close.' U.S. General Says Iran Is Nearly Able to Build a Nuclear Weapon
- A Charter School's Racial Controversy Reveals the Real Battle For America's Classrooms