A year with the Little People

They went to the Castlecomer Wellie Race and the National Ploughing Championships. They wore black and amber for the two All-Ireland senior hurling finals. They even got to attend a few weddings during the year.

They went to the Castlecomer Wellie Race and the National Ploughing Championships. They wore black and amber for the two All-Ireland senior hurling finals. They even got to attend a few weddings during the year.

They are, by this point, a true Kilkenny family.

The only catch is that they are also made of wood.

“The Little People,” as they have come to be known, are the central characters in a project by local photographer Vicky Comerford that has spanned 2012 from the first day to the very last.

The project came in the wake of a “365” that she had done in 2011, a practice that involves taking one photo per day, every day, for a whole year and documenting it each step of the way, in her case on her blog, www.365photographs.net.

Her first project, a “365” of Kilkenny city and county, was broken down into segments – 30 days of well-known people, 30 days of shop fronts, 30 days of black-and-white photographs, 30 days of pub fronts.

For 2012, she decided to create the life in a family of Little People, using wooden toy figures she bought from Sean Shanahan in The Toybox on James’s Street in the city.

The family’s first outing took them to the Castlecomer Wellie Race on New Year’s Day, and they had a few more photo sessions to establish the project before Ms Comerford let the word out to the general public.

“I didn’t say it to anybody for the first few weeks, because I was afraid I wouldn’t continue,” she said. “It’s one of those projects that most people start and then they miss a day or two and they throw the hat in.”

It really took off, though, and they amassed a loyal following during the year. Followers of their journey would call Ms Comerford to check on their progress for a day if the photo didn’t go up until late in the evening, and American visitor who encountered them while on holiday in Kilkenny even sent over tiny black-and-amber jerseys that she made for them to wear for All-Ireland senior hurling final.

The year’s photographs saw them making Christmas cake, exploring Dublin Zoo, meeting the 2012 Rose, staying in Dubai’s five-star Crowne Plaza hotel, and meeting singer Amanda Shires at the Kilkenny Roots festival.

They attended weddings, went on an Easter egg hunt, had ashes on their foreheads for Ash Wednesday and even witnessed the confusion of the Saoirview changeover.

“They had a great year,” Ms Comerford said. “We are going to be broken-hearted when we stop.”

Their tickets to leave on December 31 were bought in advance from Marble City Travel, but their destination remained a surprise to the younger family members and those who have followed them during the year.

“Nobody knows where they are going – not even me,” Ms Comerford said.

She does have an idea for another “365” for the new year, and as for the future travels of the Little People, she said: “And maybe they will be back in five years. Who knows?”