The photos are a fascinating, and sometimes upsetting, insight into the geographies and histories of Ireland. Images of the Allihies copper mines or a former tuberculosis sanatorium present ages gone by, with once incredibly important places fading away. Family portraits, religious statues, and furniture slowly rotting are found in abandoned homes, each one telling a story of a family gone. While, other images show the waste of amazing buildings or potential housing lying idle and falling into disrepair. The account is a powerful and evocate examination of Cork and Irish society.
Explaining their desire to enter these parallel worlds, the explorer explained that “I think I started it to give myself a distraction while trying to come to terms with a personal trauma. I must admit on a different level, as a child I was always more interested in what was behind the barriers than following all the tourist around the marked out path, needless to say I got in trouble on numerous occasions.” This curiosity and sense of purpose drives their action.
This call to examine sites and places outside of the ordinary has brought both pleasant and unpleasant encounters. They describe their favourite find as the spiral staircase in the Good Shepherd Convent (Photo 1). While, they also mention that the “most upsetting place I have explored has to have been walking through the tunnel from St Kevin's asylum to the church in Cork city, it's the only place I have really been affected by its energy and I have to admit I cried.” (Photo 2)
They also emphasised that: “I have a strict code of conduct while exploring. I only enter buildings that are open, I never break in. The only thing I take are photos and the only thing I leave are footprints and needless to say I hate vandalism.”
The Abandonded West Cork account uses the potential of social media to show people places in the landscape and in urban areas that otherwise go unnoticed. They reveal a slice of cultural and social life, but also raises questions about how these buildings are treated and the different types of good they could do.