Parting Shots

"Singles, couples, families. Determined, resigned, hopeful. Fearful, joyful, angry. What do they have in common? They are about to leave."

Piaras Mac Éinrí

Four years have passed since David Monahan first invited people to participate in his "Leaving Dublin" project. In 2010 emigration from Ireland had reached the highest level since the 1980s. There was no shortage of people willing to pose for a picture.

In the subsequent series of highly stylised nighttime portraits, Monahan captured single people, couples and families as they stood on the cusp of a life changing move. A battered old leather suitcase was a recurring prop.

David Monahan, Photographer

I wanted the portraits to be monumental, to show those depicted in a true heroic spirit.


As Ireland's economic crisis worsened, the Leaving Dublin series was covered by several international news outlets. "Making art from the rubble" read one headline in the New York Times.

Such was the response, Monahan decided to embark on another series of photographs. Having made friends with many of his sitters, he decided to visit them in the places they had moved to.

Travelling on a shoestring budget, Monahan reconnected with immigrants who settled in the UK, France, Australia, New Zealand, Brazil, Mexico, USA and Canada.

Raissa Oliveira Do Prado in Brazil.

Graham Ford in London.

Sarah Griffin in San Francisco

Monahan then set about bringing the project to a close. A final series of photographs, Empty Spaces, was taken at dawn at the locations of the original nighttime shoots.

All of these photographs - including the 84 portraits from the "Leaving Dublin" series - are brought together in a new book. Monahan hopes On Leaving "stands as a major historical document of our times".

On Leaving will be launched on Thursday 11th December and is available from

My photographs and video were taken with an iPhone 6 Plus. All other images © David Monahan.

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