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06 Dec 2021

Laois photographer's new book has 'flown off shelves'

Laois photographer's new book has 'flown off shelves'

Mountmellick... a Community by Kevin Byrne

The modesty of a talented Laois photographer has meant his new book is a highly sought item this Christmas.

Kevin Byrne who has spent a lifetime taking professional artful photographs, has created his second photography book, again dedicated to his home town Mountmellick.

Kevin told the Leinster Express that because he opted to avoid a booklaunch due to Covid precautions, he was only publishing a few hundred editions of Mountmellick... a Community, keeping his business local at Imperial Print.

"Because there is no launch I ordered a limited number of books. My last one broke even with a launch and an exhibition. I just hope whoever gets it enjoys it," he said.

Within weeks however, the first print of Mountmellick... a Community has almost sold out in local newsagents O'Gorman's and Ó Horáin's.

"The first issues have flown off the shelves with only a small amount remaining. I'm delighted that so many have taken book 2 to their hearts and I wish to thank you all for your kind support," he said.

A second and final delivery comes this week, and Kevin says "once they're gone, they're gone".

Kevin who also worked in ESB up to his retirement 2004, says the book is a focus on his community, filled with images to evoke memories for locals.

"I have so many shots over the years, from the pioneer association, the soccer, basketball and GAA clubs, the photographic society, Mountmellick town council. Little clubs that spun up and disappeared and other ones lasting forever. The Christmas tree is probably the biggest community thing in town," Kevin said.

"The hardest thing was whittling them down, that took me six or seven months. I had it more or less ready in February 2020, then Covid started. I went back to it this year. Some of the characters in it are gone, and I hope I ended it in a respectful way to the characters still there. The last shot is of lockdown in Mountmellick, a ghost town," he said.

Photography is in the Byrne blood, with his brother Denis also a professional photographer.

"My dad Denis James Byrne did it, my granny did it as well. I just love the camera in my hand, going for a hike, spending ages in the wild waiting for the right scene," he said.

Kevin photographed many a famous singer over the years too, including Paul Brady, Kris Kristoffersen and Johnny Cash, with his work gracing album covers and books. 

Mountmellick... a Community is on sale in O'Gorman's and Ó Horáin's shops priced at €25.

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