Wednesday, September 26, 2012

Thomas H Mason - My great grand father

Mason, Thomas Holmes (1877–1958), photographer, naturalist, meteorologist, and businessman, was born in Dublin on the 9th September 1877. He wrote, 'The Islands of Ireland: their scenery, people, life, and antiquities' [Batsford 1936, 2nd edition 1938, 3rd edition 1950] and 'Catalogue of lantern slides of Irish antiquities' [Dublin 1928].

According to the Princess Grace Irish Library (Monaco) he was:
"Life fl.1936; proprietor of the opticians and long-established instrument maker of that name on Dame St. (now defunct); photography and naturalist; privately claimed to have sold a magic lantern to the parish priest of Knock shortly before the apparition of the Blessed Virgin there which gave rise to its standing as a place of pilgrimage in Co. Mayo."
He was also my great grandfather and his influence and interests still ripple through his descendants in those of us that wander and record what we see for others.
"The Islands of Ireland (1936), I am not sure why islands possess such a fascination for many people, but the fact remains that they do. Artists, literary men and even millionaires take up their abode on isolated islands and find there a retreat from the clamour and din of modern civilisation, where their spirits can expand and where the primitive virtues and values of mankind are not swamped in a material world which has, to a large extent, lost its soul.’ (Quoted in Máirín Nic Eoin, An Litríocht Réigiúnach, Baile Átha Cliath: An Clóchomhar Tta 1982, p.141.)"
[Woman and grandson Aran Islands, Ireland photographed by Thomas H. Mason from the Ettlinger collection. Copyright of the Pitt Rivers Museum]

My grandfather Barry Mason Sr (who was the Irish State photographer during WW2, and had prolific career as a BSA sponsored rally driver) travelled with him and took a sizeable amount of the the photographs featured in the book quite a number of which are now part of the displays at The museum of Country Living in County Mayo, Ireland and at the Blasket Island centre in County Kerry.

Needless to say I am proud to be descended from these great people with whom I share a love of photography and travel.


  1. How interesting! Photography is obviously in your blood! Really great too that the work of your great grandfather and grandfather is preserved.

  2. Hi Darragh, I landed here when I was searching for a photo I bought today. The title led me to Thomas H Mason, and then on to you. The photo is framed and has "coming from mass" and Aran Islands written underneath it in pencil on th mounting board bi wonder if you could shed any light on it? If not, maybe you could point me in another direction. Thank you! Katie

  3. Hi Katie,
    Drop me a mail darragh.field at gmail dot com