About the Exhibition

portrait of a male
Photographer David Monahan

Leaving Dublin

What thoughts and feelings run through the minds of people on the cusp of leaving home, family and friends?

Since 2010, Irish photographer David Monahan has captured on film the sense of adventure, excitement, hope, sadness and anxiety of those who are part of the current wave of people leaving Ireland. Some have chosen Australia as the place to make their home and fulfil their dreams.

These images and stories are also universal, part of the global movement of people.

Meet these intrepid Irish migrants and travellers, and share your own stories of leaving, loss and adventure.

It will be difficult to leave everyone I know and love in Ireland. Jacinta Sheerin, England 2010

David Monahan - Artist Statement

I have witnessed first-hand the sadness and emptiness that were left by friends and family who emigrated in the 1980s. My siblings have all gradually left Ireland and only one has since returned. When I realised people were again moving en masse due to Ireland’s current economic situation, I decided to document this with a series of photographs, but the definitive moment came when I met a young relation and her boyfriend who were leaving for Australia in February 2010.

In 2010 I published an invitation to the people in Dublin to participate in my Leaving Dublin photography project which has captured people (of all nationalities), who have made the decision to move from Ireland for economic reasons. To date I have made 75 photographs, featuring stories and images of more than 115 people.

I have depicted these heroes of contemporary Ireland bathed in a positive light and juxtaposed with landscapes that are significant to their pasts. The common motif of the brown suitcase connects present and past emigrants. This project is a unique visual documentation which enables us to share in their stories, understand their fears and to be aware of their expectations.

I want to make these works monumental, to show those depicted in a true heroic spirit.

For after all, they are making a huge jump into the void of uncertainty and this needs to be commemorated. I am honoured to have been able to sit for a few moments with each of these people to silently consider the magnitude of this life changing action.

The project continues…

Dublin has lost whatever magic the Celtic Tiger delivered. Conor Savage Australia, 2011