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In Ruins: The Once Great Houses of Ireland

ALMOST ANY IMAGE OF IRELAND is an eye-catcher. Surely no country is more beautiful, but rarely has a country been more cursed. Yet, this book, including a brief introduction by Duncan McLaren, (a director of Sotheby Parke Bernet) draws no conclusions. It merely presents on every second page a Simon Marsden photograph of yet another spectacular ruin. For instance, a once great house in Ireland faces a short surreal statement by McLaren which is—like other entries—of little historical relevance. Included with each statement is the name of the ruin, its location and dates of construction and demise.

This is an eccentric picture book, but it does evoke the Irish tendency to delightful irrelevance and instant folklore.

Marsden’s photographs are equally mannered. Using infrared film, with its pronounced grain, and a black frame-line, he creates heavily atmospheric “period” photographs to achieve

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