My first memory of Stan Shields is of him playing in goals in an under-10 game of football in the Nun's Field in Salthill. He was playing for Dalysfort Road and I was on the Lenaboy team. We had jerseys and jackets for goalposts and there was no referee. Stan went on to greater things as keeper with Salthill Athletic.
In 1962, he joined the Connacht Tribune as a photographer, with Jimmy Walshe as his mentor, and since then one can only guess at how many photographs he has taken and published of everyday life and important and historic events in Galway.
He has won many awards for his work, and his images have appeared in publications all over the world. He has always been modest about his achievements, so it came as a shock to him some years ago when he asked his wife Kate what she would like as a gift for a special anniversary and she said "an exhibition of your photographs". There was no backing out of this one, and the result was a remarkable collection of his images which went on show in the County Buildings some years ago.
This memorable exhibition illustrated Stan's keen powers of observation, his sense of humour, his ability to capture the atmosphere of the occasion, his personal vision in recording ordinary Galwegians going about their daily lives. Happily for us, this collection is being published today in book form under the title "Stan's Galway" .
The photographs cover the last 44 years, and have something for everyone whether look are interested in people, politics, festivals, the market, football, The Pope, oysters, Poitin, mail trains, fires, entertainers or whatever. This is nostalgia at it's best. As you go through the book, you will find yourself saying "I remember that'' or "I was there that day'' or "Whatever happened to your man, ye know wha I mean like''. The outstanding images are of the plain people of Galway.
Anyone who has an interest in Old Galway will want this book. It is a must, and especially appropriate for Galwegians living abroad� the perfect Christmas gift. In all good book-shops now. We dedicate this celebration of Stan's pictures to Kate.
A. President John F.Kennedy heading towards his helicopter opposite the Banba Hotel, Salthill.
B. Fr. Damian Byrne of the Dominican Priory, Claddagh performs the annual Blessing of the Bay ceremony at Claddagh Quay in August 1964.
C. Peter O'Toole - although raised in Leeds, actor Peter O'Toole never lost touch with the place of his birth (1932) and returned to live in Clifden for much of the 1960s and 70s. He became a frequent visitor to Galway.
D. The horse and cart was rapidly disappearing through the 1970s but there were still some to be seen as this photo of a pre-Christmas market in December 1975 shows.
E. "School Warden Mary Feeney, affectionately known as the 'Lollipop Lady', assists children in crossing the road outside Presentation National School, September 1984".
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