Mary Alice Young was a famous Irish woman who lived in the late 1800’s to the mid 1900’s. I love photography myself and find it difficult to make time to take pictures these days, so I can certainly appreciate a woman from the past who was a successful photographer in history especially a part of history when women were not as independent as they are now.
Mary was born in 1867 and was the oldest daughter of Rt Hon. Sir F.E.W. Macnaghten. Her family possessed almost 8,000 acres at Bushmills, Co. Antrim in Northern Ireland. When she was twenty-six years old she married W.R. Young who was the oldest son of Rt Hon. John Young. His family owned Galgorm castle and they had an estate in the area of Ballymena, Co. Antrim which is also in Northern Ireland. This family’s land was only one quarter of the size of her family’s land interestingly enough. However, four years after being married, Mary and John went to live in the castle. This must have made for nice photography and inspiration for Mary.
Mary’s father-in-law died in 1915 when she was forty-eight and therefore her husband took over ownership of the estate and the castle. Therefore, most of Mary’s photography provides insight into the lifestyle behind the scenes of the personal family life that her family led while living in the castle and on her estate. This was also a pivotal point in World History prior to WWI and Mary’s photos depicted the time period as far as the style, dress and cultural relevance. Here is a picture of Mary’s sister while in the cornfields and engaging in her watercolors which was a popular pastime for women in that certain social class at that time in the 1900’s. Thankfully. Mary spent so much of her time while on her estate taking photographs that it has been celebrated. Mary experimented with composition and light in her photographs as seen here in the following photo of her daughter, Hilda, while in the nursery. Hilda is seen partaking in embroidery which again was another elite pastime of the early 1900’s. I especially think that since it is the time of year where we celebrate the holidays and where photography is one of the standard ways of communicating with one another it is quite a thing to look back into our past and see just how far we have come and to not forget those who have succeeded us as far as this form of art is concerned.