Photo Album of the Irish: Canada

The "Photo Album of the Irish: Canada" exhibition at EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum celebrates the ordinary and extraordinary histories of Canadians with Irish heritage across generations, reflected in their family photo albums.

Beginning in February 2019, the Photo Museum Ireland team worked with families across Canada to record, preserve and share diverse social histories, revealing details that official histories can often overlook. It includes images from the 1860s right up to the present, giving an authentic view of diverse Irish emigrant experiences across Canada. Collectively, the photographs reveal the stories people chose to remember and celebrate in their own lives.

This exhibition is special because it presents a unique visual record of the many ways Irishness is experienced abroad. It is intimately personal yet universal and helps us to gain a deeper understanding of the enduring ties between Ireland and Canada that still exist today.” say’s Nathan Mannion, EPIC’s Head of Exhibitions and Programmes.

The photographs displayed in this exhibition provide us with insight into the daily lives of the Irish diaspora — how people travelled, worked, played; how they kept in touch with relatives; and how they chose to present themselves to the camera. They also highlight the evolution of photography from the slow and cumbersome early processes to the ease and immediacy with which we can now share images and I’m delighted to share this landmark exhibition with our visitors.” says Dr J. Patrick Greene, CEO & Museum Director, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum.

The ‘Photo Album of the Irish: Canada’ exhibition will run at EPIC from 9th November until 5th March 2023.


Background to the Project

Photo Museum Ireland (formerly Gallery of Photography Ireland) initiated the Photo Album of the Irish project in 2014. We wanted to record and celebrate the ordinary and extraordinary histories of people with Irish heritage reflected in family photograph albums.

The process of digitally collecting material enables us to collect and preserve important individual histories that would not ordinarily be included in institutional archives. The making of family photographs is often a conscious act of remembering a moment in time, mindful that a record is being created for the future. However, it is important to acknowledge that there are often aspects of our family histories we choose not to remember or make visible.


Photobook of the Irish: Canada - Launch Event

The exhibition was launched in 2022 by:

  • Nathan Mannion, Head of Exhibitions and Programmes, EPIC The Irish Emigration Museum
  • Trish Lambe, Artistic Director/CEO, Photo Museum Ireland
  • Dr Eamonn McKee, Ambassador of Ireland to Canada and Jamaica.

Looking Ahead: Ireland at 100

The family stories contributed to the Photo Album of the Irish: Canada project give a glimpse into a range of emigrant experiences from people who left the island of Ireland for a new life in Canada. These different albums chart patterns of migration from the 1830s to the present day, representing the links that exist between Ireland and Canada, embracing diverse traditions, affiliations and ethnicities to challenge stereotypical notions of Irish identity. We are grateful for the insightful texts from Dr. Eamon McKee, Dr. Orla Fitzpatrick, Frank Flood, Dr. Raymond Jess and Cathy Murphy. These varied perspectives help to further illuminate the family histories of the contributors, framing them within their wider social and historical context.

The overall archive demonstrates the evolution of photography from slow and cumbersome early processes to the ease and immediacy with which we can now share images. As the Photo Album of the Irish archive grows, it will become an important national and international resource, giving a unique insight into the history of the people from the island of Ireland across the world. It is fitting that, as we approach the centenary of the establishment of the independent Irish Free State and the State of Northern Ireland, this latest edition of the project builds towards 100 family histories, embracing and reflecting a broad spectrum of cultural identities.

You can explore the evolving Photo Album of the Irish archive at:

Find out more about the work of Photo Museum Ireland Ireland at:


The exhibition is part of a wider project which includes a publication and online archive. Funded by the Government of Ireland Emigrant Support Programme.