The Jackie Clarke Collection | Opening hours: Tue - Sat 10am to 5pm | Free Admission


Events at the Clarke Collection

In My Grandfather's Time - A Photographic Exhibition of the Work of JJ Leonard

7th March - 8th April


Jack Leonard was born in Crossmolina in 1882 and immigrated to England in 1900. He trained in London with the Illustrated London News in Journalism, Illustration and Photography; skills he would put to very good use in the Land War, the War of Independence and the Civil War. He returned to Ireland in 1906 and set up his Photographic Business. This took him around the county, his customers were ordinary families who put on their best attire to have ‘their likeness recorded’ - the ‘Big House’, the Clergy and the local and national media.

All too often he was taking the photo of a young person with a request for two prints. One to leave at home with the family and the other to bring on the journey of emigration. Jack photographed all aspects of rural life, the plight of the small farmer and the Land War of the west including evictions. He recorded the many political meetings in the county in the lead up to the 1910 General Elections. At this time he was introduced to the Volunteers by his brother in-law Michael Kilroy. Kilroy was the regional organiser and a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood. 

Jack joined the Volunteers in 1914 and fought in the War of Independence and Civil War. He represented the people of his local area as a Rural Councillor between 1920 and 1925 and as a member of the County Council between 1933 and 1934. Jack took many photos of training camps in the lead up to war and during the truce and of the Active service units. He went on the run for over nine months and during one encounter with the Black and Tans his equipment and some of the glass negatives were destroyed. However, many survive to this day as they were hidden in a stack of turf near the family home. Following the end of the war and Jacks release from Internment at Hare Park in the Curragh he returned to his photographic business in 1925.

Jack also ran a very successful Singer Sewing Machine agency. In the late 1930’s and early 1940’s as part of this business Jack had a premises at 2 O’Rahilly Street, neighbouring his friend Jackie Clarke’s own business

Jack’s grandson, Anthony continues the photographic business and is currently researching Jack’s life and the context of many of the old photos, to share in a future book.

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Specialist tours can be booked in advance by emailing or by phoning (096) 73508.


The Jackie Clarke Collection
Pearse Street, Ballina, Co. Mayo, Ireland

T: + 353 (0)96 73508

Opening Times

Tuesday to Saturday: 10am to 5pm
Entrance is located at the side of the building on Walsh Street.