I believe that another dimension, a spirit world, runs parallel to our own so-called 'real' world, and that sometimes, when the conditions are right, we can see into and become part of this supernatural domain - Simon MarsdenIn Ruins: The Once Great Houses of Ireland is one of the great treasures of my library. This pictorial book, first published in 1980 collects together a number of photographs taken by Simon Marsden of large country estates, mansions and castles that have fallen in disrepair, and ruin. The book also includes scene-setting liner notes by art expert Duncan McClaren, revealing the history behind each property and how these once great houses met their demise - in many cases, they were willfully destroyed during Ireland's Civil War, while other houses were simply abandoned by their owners. Simon Marsden who passed away in 2012 had a lifelong fascination for ghosts and haunted spaces, and it powerfully resonates in his photography. Much of his work was achieved using infra-red film which gave his photographs an instantly unique, surreality and when applied to gloomy landscapes and dilapidated buildings, the results were often stunning. The images found in the pages of In Ruins, lean heavily towards the Gothic and one can imagine one of MR James' gentleman-scholars exploring these spectral vestiges in search of ancient manuscripts. The following images and captions are taken from the book:
Menlough Castle Gates, Near Galway, County Galway
Built in the 17th century. Burnt in 1910
Thomastown Castle. Near Golden, County Tipperary
Built in 1670. Fell into disrepair after 1872
Moydrum Castle. Near Athlone, County Westmeath.
Built in 1812. Burnt in 1912 during the Troubles
Old Castle Hackett. Near Headford, County Galway
Built in the 13th century. Abandoned in 1705
Fans of U2 might recognize the photograph of Moydrum Castle from the cover of the band's 1984 album The Unforgettable Fire. The photo on the record sleeve was not in fact a Marsden shot, but rather an excellent facsimile by Anton Corbijn. However the framing and style of Corbijn's shot bore such a resemblance to Marsden's own work that the band were compelled to pay Marsden compensation. When Marsden passed away he left behind 13 books of photography, some of which are still in print. Sadly In Ruins is now out of print but copies might still be found in second-hand stores. (the book was revised and expanded in 1997). In the meantime, Marsden's official website is a good place to begin...