Matt Nolan's photograph of the late John Conroy, which will feature on tomorrow's Irish Independent calendar.

Photograph of late Rath Chairn character wins national media award

A quick snap before a cup of tea with a friend who has since died has been named the winning entry in the Irish Independent Mediahaus readers’ photographic competition.

Matthew Nolan’s photograph shows the late John Conroy in the traditional kitchen of his home in the Gaeltacht of Rath Chairn.

He stands before the range, intent on brewing a pot of tea for his visitor, surrounded by all the icons we know so well – the picture of a long-departed Pope, the radio and the old black and white family photos on the wall.

Irish Independent editor Cormac Bourke said the photography competition was a great success, attracting a huge number of high-quality entrants.

“We were extremely impressed by the quality and the great range of photos submitted, which showed our readers have a keen and discerning eye when it comes to viewing the world around them,” he said.

Head of visuals at Mediahuis Ireland, David Conachy, said Mr Nolan, from Ballagh, Mullingar, Co Westmeath, was a worthy winner, demonstrating his great interest and skill in documenting “history in the making”.

“His picture of his friend in his home environment captures a forgotten Ireland. He shares the talents of a press photographer with this evocative photo that captures a moment in time,” he said.

"Matthew Nolan’s heart-warming photo captures an Ireland that is both familiar and fast-disappearing, and we are delighted to include his vivid and evocative image in our Irish Independent calendar for 2022."

Originally from Ballygar, Co Galway, Mr Nolan’s interest in amateur photography was sparked as a youngster when he received the gift of a basic box camera from his aunt Maggie on his confirmation day.

“Since then, I haven’t stopped taking photographs,” he said, adding that when he went to work in Mullingar as an Inland Fisheries officer, his first wage went on a 35mm camera and he would photograph “everyone who would stand next to me”.

Many of his Rath Chairn pictures were published in 'Ráth Chairn: An Talamh Bán, The Promised Land'. The photo will feature in a calendar will be free inside the Irish Independent on Saturday 8th January.