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New Collection: Photographs of Irish Jesuits in Hong Kong from the Irish Jesuit Archive

27 May 2022

The Digital Repository of Ireland (DRI) is delighted to announce that the Irish Jesuit Archives has made their collection ‘Photographs of Irish Jesuits in Hong Kong’ available in the Repository.

 The collection, which consists of twenty photographs of Irish Jesuits in Hong Kong between 1929 and 1937, can now be explored. The photographs in this collection, from 1929 until before the Second World War, are concentrated in the areas of Hong Kong and Canton (Guangdong), China. Irish Jesuits were involved in general missionary work and teaching. 

On publication of the collection in DRI, Damien Burke, Province Archivist at the Irish Jesuit Archives said:

The DRI Repository has provided the Irish Jesuit Archives with the opportunity to make photographs by Irish Jesuits of Hong Kong accessible. This collaboration has democratised archives, that have an Irish and international dimension, sustainably. I hope that this sharing will enable further research into our connected histories.

DRI Director, Natalie Harrower, added:

This is a truly unique collection that provides snapshots of very particular moments in the lives of Irish missionaries, while also revealing aspects of the activities they undertook while abroad. The Irish Jesuit Archives have done a wonderful job of providing ‘rich metadata’ - something we always promote at DRI - by including significant biographical detail in the descriptions. This enriches the collection, adds to the pool of information so widely sought by genealogists, and makes the collection more valuable for researchers and members of the public.

As well as the rich biographical data contained within the metadata, there are some beautiful details in the photographs themselves which show how different life was in Hong Kong for the missionaries. Images in the collection, such as ‘How the Seminary looked at Xmas ’32’, and ‘Regional Seminary, Aberdeen, Hong Kong for native Chinese Seminaries’ serve to illustrate how the architecture of the two countries was different. While photography was a more accessible medium in the 1920s and 1930 it was still well outside the reach of many Irish people. This makes these photographs an even more remarkable record. They must have filled those at home who received the photos with wonder, and they now allow us a window into the very interesting work undertaken by the Irish Jesuits internationally.

You can find out more about the collections that are held at the Irish Jesuit archive by searching their catalogue. Damien Burke, Province Archivist for the Irish Jesuit Archive, will be examining the story of this missionary in a guest blog post. To find out more about our new collections, you can subscribe to our newsletter or follow us on Twitter or Instagram.

Image: Irish Jesuits. (2022) Regional Seminary, Aberdeen, Hong Kong for native Chinese Seminarians, Digital Repository of Ireland [Distributor], Irish Jesuit Archives [Depositing Institution],

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