Fergus Bourke (1934-2004) has long been regarded as one of Ireland’s foremost and finest photographers. His body of work spans a variety of genres from an extensive career. He was renowned as a photographer of Dublin street scenes in the 1960s, depicting the now vanished world of tenements and children’s games, each one quietly observed and captured with warmth, compassion and humour. His pioneering photojournalism documented the depths of Irish poverty in the 1970s. A remarkable portraitist, his Kindred series captured prominent Irish figures throughout the 1980s, work that was complemented by his extensive documentation of all major productions in the Abbey Theatre between 1970 and 1995.
In 1980 Bourke was admitted as an artist to Aosdána, an association of people in Ireland who have achieved distinction in the arts; he was the first photographer to be so acknowledged. He held a major retrospective at the Gallery of Photography in 2003 during which the film maker Art O’Briain shot a moving documentary about his work, Fergus Bourke – In His Own Words. Bourke was diagnosed with a terminal illness and passed away before the film was premiered.