William Lawrence, after which the collection is named, was not himself a photographer, but an early entrepreneur. Realising the huge potential of the medium, he opened a photography studio in Sackville Street in Dublin in 1865. Over a number of years, he employed a team of photographers to capture the many and varied parts of Ireland, including Cork, depicted in these photographs. The full collection consists of 40,000 glass plates, mainly from the period 1880-1914, but some plates go back to 1870. Robert French (1841–1917) was employed as his chief photographer in 1880. French took over 30,000 photographs of the 'Lawrence Collection'.
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