Official Launch of John Hooton’s New Book ‘Ireland – The Way We Were’.

Official Launch of John Hooton’s New Book ‘Ireland – The Way We Were’.

Mallow Camera Club hosted the official launch of John Hooton’s new book, ‘Ireland – The Way We Were’, at a full-house event at the Mercy Centre, Mallow on Monday evening 22nd October 2018. The event also featured an exhibition of selected prints from the book.

MC for the evening, our Chairman, Jim Mc Sweeney, welcomed the huge turnout, thanked all those in organising the event and spoke about John’s long involvement in the club, from being a founding member to his continued involvement with the club today and how John brings so much to the club, especially through his willingness to share his knowledge and experience and the support and encouragement he offers to members.

Micheal de Mordha, former Director of the Great Blasket Centre and author of the Foreword in John’s new book, spoke about John’s long association with West Kerry and the affection and regard that the people of West Kerry have for John. He spoke about John’s obvious passion for the photography of West Kerry and that it wasn’t unusual to come across John at any hour of the evening or morning waiting for the right light to capture a particular image. Micheal spoke about how this new body of work was such a departure for John from his highly acclaimed landscape work, for which John is well known as one of the best landscape photographers in Ireland and how John, through his fascinating and evocative images brings us back into a time of more innocence, while also capturing the faith of the of the people long gone.

In his talk, John explained how he accumulated the images for the book and ultimately compiled the volume over a five-year period. He spoke about the process of locating the abandoned cottages and farmhouses, finding the owners to obtain their permission to enter the houses and how he went about absorbing the atmosphere of the houses and their contents, before capturing the images, all of which are taken in natural light. John also spoke about the perils associated with working alone for long periods in houses which had been deteriorating for years, with sometimes dodgy floors, door-locks, etc. John’s story-telling was as vivid as his images. John described how, through taking these photographs, he gained such great respect for the strength of character, resilience and faith of the people of the generation that lived in these homes. John also paid tribute to the well-known Cork photographer, Morgan O’Neill, who was present on the night, whose early work on abandoned houses provided the inspiration for John to develop the body of work which makes up the book.

John especially thanked his wife Noreen, who is also credited for the research for the book, and the rest of his family for all their support and especially thanked his Mother, Annette for all she had done for him and invited Annette to say a few words.

As John said himself, Annette stole the show! She spoke about how John had selflessly gone into the old houses and captured the old folklore of Ireland and the simple, strong faith of the people who lived in the houses, into a book of photographs. To quote Annette: “I feel good as a Mother that he did that for Ireland.”

The book was officially launched by Sean Sherlock TD, who described the book as an important piece of social history that belongs in the annals of the National Library and in the US Library of Congress, and indeed in the Aras, where the newly elected President would be proud to show it to his visitors.

A really great night for John, his family and for Mallow Camera Club and a very enjoyable event for all present.

John’s book is now available online at, at Philips Bookshop Mallow, Kanturk Bookshop, Easons Killarney and Tralee, and in Dingle at Dingle Bookshop, Sweet Pea and An Café Litheartha.

Attached some images from John’s book and some photos from the evening. Thanks to Pat Sheehan for the photos.