Rathrobin and the two Irelands: the photographs of Middleton Biddulph 1900–1920 Michael Byrne
The photographs in the Magan Collection, now called the Biddulph Collection, were taken by Lt Col. Middleton Westenra Biddulph (1849–1926) who lived at Rathrobin near Mountbolus, County Offaly. Biddulph was proud of his family history and when he retired from the army in the mid-1890s he returned to Ireland and rebuilt the old house at Rathrobin in great style. The Biddulph photographs are not just another set of pictures of Edwardian and pre-WW1 life in Ireland. Biddulph had an empathy with his farm workers and their families and sought their advancement. Many local families were photographed together with their farming activities.
Biddulph’s story, and that of his associates and friends, illustrated by a selection of over 300 pictures, will help to provide a more nuanced understanding of Ireland in the revolutionary period of 1900–23. His wonderful house at Rathrobin that he had so carefully ‘restored’, and all his farm improvements, were lost in the Civil War in 1923. The financial compensation he received was of little value to him in his last five years of life in London. When he died in 1926 the tomb that he prepared in Killoughy graveyard remained empty. The photographs by Middleton Biddulph were taken at a crucial time in Ireland’s history. Their publication now could not come at a better time.
Front cover: Mrs Lizzie Bracken, Johnnie Bracken, Catherine, Mary, John and Peter, Rathrobin, 22 August 1904.
Back cover: Rathrobin House, 12 April 1904.
The photographer, Middleton Biddulph, posing under ‘under his own vine’, September 1902.
Supported by the Decade of Commemorations Unit in the Department of Tourism, Culture, Arts, Gaeltacht, Sport and Media.