Sierra Leone.

Glad to see the UN-backed Special Court in the Hague has finally found former Liberian leader Charles Taylor guilty of aiding and abetting war crimes during the Sierra Leone civil war. He was accused of backing rebels who killed tens of thousands of people in Sierra Leone’s 1991-2002 civil war.

These are some photos from Sierra Leone taken in 1999 during a ceasefire in the brutal conflict. I travelled there for The Irish Times with Concern Worldwide. The photos show displaced people and victims of forced amputation, one of the calling cards of the vicious RUF (Revolutionary United Front) . Top pic shows 9 year old Amara Bintu in the childrens ward of the Connacht Hospital, Freetown. She lost a leg after suffering RUF gunshot wounds during an attack on her village. In pic 2 Abu Barka Karyba visits his wife Rugata after the birth of their son Alan in Connacht Hospital where he too is a patient, recovering from the amputation of his hands with a blunt machete by the RUF. He can’t hold his newborn child.

Pic 3 shows a mother holding her sick child up to show his infection in the National Workshop, Freetown, a warehouse that was once a training centre for mechanical and engineering skills and then housed 21,000 homeless and displaced persons whose homes have been destroyed in attacks by the RUF . The building was rat infested had no sanitation services.

Pripyat / Chernobyl 2006.

More images from a trip to Chernobyl and Belarus for The Irish Times (see previous post) . Top three pictures are from the deserted city of Pripyat 3km from Chernobyl and final pic is of Lena Muzychemko, husband Ivan and son Sasha in Bratolomyeuka a deserted village in a radiation hotspot in the exclusion zone of Vetka district in Belarus. The family were among 7 people who lived in the village once populated by 1,000.

Chernobyl commuters.

In April 2006 I travelled to Belarus and Ukraine with colleague Irish Times writer Kathy Sheridan to record the consequences of the Chernobyl nuclear disaster 20 years on. We visited the plant itself, the exclusion zone , the deserted city of Pripyat, and photographed many of the victims and survivors of the disaster in Belarus. This particular image was unpublished at the time. It shows workers arriving by bus at the Chernobyl Nuclear Plant where a number of reactors are still functioning . These women were among a group who commute by bus daily from nearby Slavutich to the site .

The place is dark and quite depressing. I was struck by the bright blue bus in such a grey setting and by the looks of the women through the wet and steamy windows. There’s a kind of resignation in their faces although maybe commuters the world over share that expression. I don’t know. I only got two frames off before a security guard started shouting at me to stop.

Nearby the city of Pripyat which once housed 50,000 people and is now deserted, made some really good pics. It’s a ghost city beside Chernobyl which had to be evacuated after the explosion. Kathy and I had brought a device for measuring radioactivity but couldn’t get it to work. Our minder reckoned we were good for half an hour. We ran in and out of empty apartment blocks, municipal buildings, schools and playgrounds. It’s one of the eeriest places I’ve ever been. One the one hand I could have stayed there photographing all day, but one the other I couldn’t wait to get out of there!

Rural NSW from the air.

Here’s an aerial photo I took in rural New South Wales on the border with Queensland, Australia, in August 2007. I was working on a water shortage story where NSW farmers were concerned that a river that irrigated their land was being diverted across the border in Queensland causing a mini drought. The pic was made from a little two seater plane flown by an accomodating local sheep farmer. I was working for the Sydney Morning Herald at the time on a year long exchange with their photographer Kate Geraghty who moved to Ireland and did my job at The Irish Times.

Backstage clown.

I’ve only ever photographed one clown and that was Clarey Daniels when he was working with Circus Vegas a few years back. He’s pictured above as he leaves his caravan backstage before a matinee in Waterford in 2005. I spent a day with the circus for a feature in The Irish Times and couldn’t believe how hard everyone worked. Most of the performers did an additional job in the circus as well as entertaining the crowds. This is my favourite pic from that assignment. I kinda like how the colour and size of the subject contrasts with greyness of the surroundings and the small caravan.

Hoodie girl.

Portrait of my youngest, Neasa wearing her favourite purple hoodie. We took the picture using some nice available light in our garage and enhanced the pic using Snapseed

New Citizens.

An audio slideshow for showing a two day ceremony which took place in Dublin, Ireland February 2012 as over 2,000 people were granted Irish Citizenship. The event was attended by the Irish Taoiseach Enda Kenny TD.

The radio collector.

An audio slideshow for about Matt Staunton who collects and repairs old radio sets. In a room of his Dublin home he coaxes often discarded wirelesses back to life using bits and pieces he has collected over many years.

Patrick Street, Dungarvan.

An audio slideshow for to coincide with a feature piece “The view from O’Connell Street” by Rosita Boland of The Irish Times. There are many O’Connell Streets in Ireland and not just in Dublin where the city’s main thoroughfare is so named after Daniel O’Connell. The feature looks at O’Connell Street Dungarvan and other O’Connell Streets in Ireland.

Photos from my phone.

An audio slideshow put together for on soundslides plus and then converted to mp4. Just a bunch of day to day pics taken over the last couple of months on my iphone. Music : The Long Goodbye by John Pazdan

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