A LIFETIME of work for local photographer Tom Brett has now been published under the title ‘Kilkenny in Focus’.
The new, hard-book tome of Kilkenny’s social history through the medium of photography was launched on Saturday night in Langton’s Hotel, John Street by hurling legend, Eddie Keher.
Mr Brett, through decades of work for this newspaper and in a freelance capacity, treasured an archive of photographs second to none.
His skill with the camera and in the dark room were the exception in regional journalism and since his retirement, he has spent over two years assessing a back catalogue of quality photographs detailing the life and times of Kilkenny.
Tom explained at the launch that the idea for the publication was prompted by his medical team, who told him to take on a challenge and make himself busy.
“When I started looking back through my files I was really excited by what I found,” he said. “I realised that if I did not do this, it would never be done.”
Tom, with Gerry Moran as MC and Eddie Keher doing the honours, launched his book to a thrilled crowd who flicked through the pages, reliving past memories in the sporting, political and social life of Kilkenny.
Tom still is a self-confessed perfectionist, and the selection of photographs are as you would expect. It details all the characters of the city and county, the highs and lows of life in Kilkenny through floods and fiasco.
And apart from local characters, the gliterrati that visited the city over the years - like Terry Wogan and Mick Jagger - are featured in the most unlikely of settings.
Of course those were the days when the camera man was not feared like modern-day paparazzi.
Eddie Keher spoke of a personal favourite of his - a picture in Mick Neary’s hurley workshop. Anyone who was a customer of Mick over the years will certainly recall fond memories of the many chats with a great hurling man who had time for all- a county star or a juvenile picking out his first ‘real’hurl.
Also speaking on the night was Mayor David Fitzgerald, who took up Gerry Moran’s suggestion of the book being placed in County Hall as a unique record of the life and people of this city in the second half of the 20th century.
And this edition is sub-titled, Volume I so there is every chance that Volume II is in being planned. This book is a real crowd-pleaser, and it should also be noted that Tom’s journalistic skills were put to the test as he wrote, edited, produced and designed the entire publication.
All this work was done as Tom battled prostrate cancer.
“It is such a great record it should be kept in City Hall with the Liber Primus,” Gerry Moran said.
For the market it is aimed at, it’s the best photographic compilation on offer. You just cannot put the book down once you open it and flick through the hundreds of black and white images wonderfully reproduced in this excellent production.
The book, retailing at €30 and exceptional value at that, is presently on sale through Stone House Books. It will make its way to most bookstores in the city in the coming week, and is available from Tom at (056) 7721441.