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Kenneth O Halloran

Life After Death

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Though now a more secular society, Ireland still has remnants and relics of the old religious faith, even if many of its devoted followers are typically advanced in age – part of what might be termed a dying generation.

The Catholic Church had been one of the country’s mainstays. Falling Mass attendances, declining priest numbers and various damaging scandals have shaken the institution and weakened its grip. Despite this, my father is a daily Mass-goer; his faith doesn’t appear to have flinched.

The house where I grew up in the west of Ireland is where my father now resides with his wife and their daughter Susan; all the rest of the family have flown the nest, some starting families of their own, one in New York where she has become part of the Irish Diaspora.

The religious paraphernalia located throughout this house gives God a central presence and status not uncommon in Ireland at the time. We prayed as a family, like when the Angelus bells struck at noon and six in the evening. We knelt at night to say the Holy Rosary. Many of our rites of passage as children were rooted in Catholicism – our first communion, our confirmation, and so on.

My father, who is 80, would not have seen anything remarkable in this. He was merely carrying on the tradition of his own father’s generation. Having spent half his life working, he recently retired, closing his drapery store. His undertaker’s business continues.

For me and others in the family it meant that death was never far away or overtly mysterious. We became accustomed to the dead of our parish being prepared for the final ceremonies before burial. We would often come home from school to see who had died that day. If we truly wanted to make our father proud, we would have mastered the game he followed all his life: hurling. This ancient Irish sport, requiring great dexterity, courage and speed, can still weave a spell on him.

Born in a rural community he has seen his own life change and now that of his children too. In recent years he lost a brother to whom he was close. Now I see him deriving great joy from his grandchildren. In their company he seems tranquil. At peace. His work done.

 

Bio

Kenneth O Halloran was born in the West of Ireland, and is a graduate of the Institute of Art, Design and Technology in Dun Laoghaire.

Based in Dublin, he is currently working on a number of long term projects, which include a personal portrayal of his family shot over 5 years.

His project ‘Tales from the Promised Land’ was shortlisted for the Terry O’Neill Award 2010 and a portrait entitled ‘Twins: Puck Fair’ was shown in The National Portrait Gallery in London, as part of the Taylor Wessing Portrait Prize 2010.

He has recently received third prize in the Portrait Stories category of the World Press Photo awards and is also the recipient of the Focus Project Monthly Award (March 2011).

He received an honorable mention in the Art of Photography show San Diego 2011 and a portrait entitled ‘Olive, selling dresses’ has been selected for exhibition at the National Portrait Gallery (Taylor Wessing 2011).

He received an honorable mention in Lens Culture International Exposure Awards 2011 and was winner of the Terry O’Neill/Tag Award 2011.

 

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Kenneth O Halloran

 

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“It changed my life,” my friend announced at dinner a few months ago. The “it” in question was a book, which she described as orgasmic. My interest was certainly piqued. In furtive late-night conversations and mid-day lunches over the next few months, the transformational qualities of the trilogy, Fifty Shades of Grey, by British author E.L. James, spread among the wives and mothers all over New York City, Long Island, and Westchester County. The series, which began as online fan faction before racking up hundreds of thousands of e-book downloads, are about an S&M relationship between a billionaire and a virginal young college student. What started across the Atlantic as one woman’s desire to bravely express her lurid desires, had created sensual upheaval—as well as an ad hoc community of empowered women bound by their shared discovery of pleasure—in the unlikeliest of places: the suburbs. And I just had to document it.

Gillian Laub

(L to R) Sima Leyy, Jen Boudin, Lyss Stern and Stacey Cooper together at a party celebrating the Fifty Shades series of books in Long Island, NY celebrating the Fifty Shades series of books by the author E.L. James.

In mid January, I attended a book party in New York City for James, who was literally overwhelmed to tears of joy (and alarm) by a pack of hundreds of middle-aged women acting like adolescent girls unleashed on Justin Bieber. “I’m completely and utterly stunned by the reaction to these books,” James would tell me, a few days later, at my apartment. All the women in attendance claimed the same of themselves: forever changed – and all for the good. “You need to read it. You need to do it now. And you need to wear panty-liner,” one woman’s friend warned. Another fan at the signing told James that she’d never had an orgasm before—and that at 43, she had her first one just reading it. It’s obvious that Fifty Shades of Grey has become a suburban literary virus of sorts. And James’ life—as well as the women readers she inspires—will henceforth never be the same.

Read More: James’ Bondage

Gillian Laub is a New-York-based photographer. See more of her work here.

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A saber-toothed cat’s skull, one of a number of dinosaur remains (among other things) auctioned off at the I. M. Chait gallery on March 24. (Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal)


The funeral of Nassau County Police Officer Geoffrey J. Breitkopf, one of two police officers killed in line-of-duty incidents that happened about nine hours and 40 miles apart. (Ken Maldonado for The Wall Street Journal)


Rye Playland, one of few amusement parks in the U.S. owned by a municipality, has been bleeding money. Now Westchester County officials are looking for developers to modernize the park. (Nick Brandreth for The Wall Street Journal)


The Third Annual Blossom Ball celebrated by the Endometriosis Foundation of America at New York Public Library. (Astrid Stawiarz for The Wall Street Journal)


New York Police Officers at the funeral of Police Officer Alain Schaberger, the second police officer killed in the line of duty last week. ( Joel Cairo for The Wall Street Journal )


The American Folk Art Museum’s ‘Infinite Variety: Three Centuries of Red and White Quilts’ show opened on March 25 at the Park Avenue Armory. (Natalie Keyssar for The Wall Street Journal)


The grilled marinated octopus at Tre Otto. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)


Famed Spanish Chef Ferran Adria and Author Lisa Abend ate an American-style breakfast at Old John’s Luncheonette. (Natalie Keyssar for The Wall Street Journal)


Random items in the practice space used by the band The Feelies in the basement of lead singer Glenn Mercer’s home in Haledon, N.J. (Nick Brandreth for The Wall Street Journal)


A horse gambler leaned on the railing of the main lobby at the Aqueduct Racetrack in Jamaica, Queens, following a race. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)


Rula Jebreal and Julian Schnabel in the dining area of the Palazzo Chupi building in Manhattan. Schnabel’s new film opened on March 25. (Natalie Keyssar for The Wall Street Journal)


Charred remains of a large bus on Ninth Ave near 39th Street after an apparent engine fire on March 21. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)


GreeNYC’s mascot ‘Birdie’ awaits the arrival of media and dignitaries to an event celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Fresh Kills Landfill closure on March 22. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)


The symbolic arrival of trees on the type of barge that once transported garbage to Fresh Kills Landfill in Staten Island, during the ceremony marking ten years since its closure and transformation into a park. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)


Frank Mouris, in his animation studio in Chatham, N.Y. Frank and his wife Caroline are Academy Award-winning animators and also dog breeders. (Mark Ovaska for The Wall Street Journal)

As it struggles to close a $100 million budget gap, the Metropolitan Transportation Authority is exploring selling or leasing some of the three million square feet of office space it controls. Among the buildings on the table: the agency’s 20-story headquarters complex on Madison Avenue. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)


A mix of wintery weather hit pedestrians on Chambers Street on March 23. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)


Burkes Bar in Hoboken, N.J. (Natalie Keyssar for The Wall Street Journal)


Shirley Wood’s Yorkie, Stitch, rested in her bag at the dog-friendly Gardiner County Park in West Bayshore, N.Y., on March 18. (Joel Cairo for the Wall Street Journal )

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A sparrow in Central Park. (Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal)


The tents at Lincoln Center were decorated Tuesday ahead of Mercedes-Benz Fall Fashion Week. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)


Firefighters responded to 13 Conselyea St. in Brooklyn on Monday. (Photo by Amy Sussman for The Wall Street Journal)


Tuna nigiri sushi at Sushi Yasuda in Manhattan. (Ramsay de Give for The Wall Street Journal)


Alla Verlotsky, the Ukraine-born, New York-based film programmer, distributor and producer, at her home office in Manhattan. (Mustafah Abdulaziz for The Wall Street Journal)


The casket of Officer Michael J. Califano was carried into a church on Thursday. (Ken Maldonado for The Wall Street Journal)


Artist Laurie Simmons at her studio in Manhattan. (Mustafah Abdulaziz for The Wall Street Journal)


New York Mets mascot Mr. Met prepared for the team’s trip to spring training in Florida. (Ken Maldonado for The Wall Street Journal)


Executive pastry chef Zac Young’s signature chocolate absinthe donuts at Flex Mussels in Manhattan.
(Daniella Zalcman for The Wall Street Journal)


The wine cellar at a historic mansion known as the Brady House in Westchester County. (Photo by Amy Sussman for The Wall Street Journal)


Former Long island schoolboy and current Tennessee star, Tobias Harris, plays a game against Alabama on Saturday. (Mike Belleme for The Wall Street Journal)


Grammy nominated musician Chandrika Tandon played a Tambura, a traditional Indian stringed instrument, in her home on the Upper East Side. (Philip Montgomery for The Wall Street Journal)


FDNY Lieutenant Robert E. Lee was lauded for rescuing a 43-year old woman he found in the stairwell of a five-story building fire in the Bronx early Wednesday morning. (Rob Bennett for The Wall Street Journal)


The Lunar Parade in Chinatown wound down Mott Street on Sunday in celebration of the Chinese New Year. (Natalie Keyssar for The Wall Street Journal)

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