Terry steps out of frame after 50

Terry O’Brien in a 1982 self-portrait

AFTER more than 50 years of capturing subjects on film and photographing the great, the good and the ordinary Joe Soaps dressed in heirloom costumes, Terry O’Brien is about to hang up his top hat.

As the owner of the famous O’Brien Costume Studio in Bunratty Folk Park, Terry captured many famous faces decked out in Victorian finery and other fashions of yesteryear.

Among those who came before Terry’s viewfinder were legendary French mime Marcel Marceau; country and western star Glen Campbell; 007 himself, Pierce Brosnan; President Michael D Higgins when he was a government minister; Hollywood idol Gabriel Byrne; Irish football boss Jack Charlton, Sir Peter Ustinov and Limerick actor Gary Lilburn.

Celebrities who called the studio but were hesitant to dress up included Gay Byrne and Richard Harris, who bought photos of old Ireland from the Lawrence Collection for £150 which Terry is allowed to sell – then their bought a pint in Macs Bar in the folk park.

Gabriel Byrne and Ellen Barkin photographed in Terry O’Brien’s studio.

Dub by birth, Terry told the Limerick Post “I went on a trip to Achill Island when I was a teenager and fell in love with the west of Ireland.”

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Now 70 and having seen big changes in the art of photography, Terry is about to retire, but says he has really enjoyed the past 50 years.

“I met some amazing people and some very famous people, but the people I liked the most, if I’m being honest, were everyday people.

“I especially liked it when the woman in the family was coaching the man who didn’t want to have his picture taken in the costume but put on the top hat and he became a different person,” Terry said.

The studio, along with all the rest of Folk Park, has been closed for most of the Covid pandemic and Terry has spent the past two years traveling the length and breath of Ireland filming footage in 23 of the 26 counties.

Although he does not continue, he hopes that someone else will step in and take over the Bunratty studio.

“I still get emails from people asking if I’ll be opening this summer. I would love to see someone else come in and take over the business,” he said.

The photo gallery can be viewed at www.lawrencecollection.com Terry’s contact details are available on this site.

About Debra D. Johnson

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