Italia 90 Dublin by Tony O’Shea
Published by Cafe RoyalBooks
“A nation holds its breath!” Many of us remember those famous words uttered by RTÉ Sports commentator George Hamilton moments before David O’Leary netted that famous penalty against Romania sending the Republic of Ireland to the quarter finals of the Italia 90 World Cup – albeit without winning a single game!
The team returned from a heroic display to be greeted by an estimated 500,000 people lining the streets from Dublin Airport to O’Connell Street. (Proportionately, more people came out to celebrate Ireland’s defeat in the Italia 90 quarter finals than the number of Germans who celebrated the World Cup winning team). For three weeks the nation experienced something close to mass hysteria.
For the first time, a collection of photographs taken by Irish photographer Tony O’Shea of the fans who lined those roads are published together in a new photobook ‘Italia 90 Dublin’ (Café Royal Books).
“I went out to Dublin Airport to see what would happen and was lucky enough to get on board the official team bus. Also on board were the Gardaí who would, occasionally, get out of the bus to clear the road ahead of euphoric fans,” says O’Shea.
What is interesting about the collection is the noticeable absence of the Irish team.
“I suppose with street photography it’s what happens on the sidelines that I find more interesting”, O’Shea tells Murmur. “Once I left the airport it was immediately apparent that people were gathering in force and it was not going to be a subdued welcome home. It really caught the public imagination and I think people saw it as a turning point for the nation, leaving the bleak decade of the 80’s behind.”
Today, in 2017 Dublin, Tony O’Shea reflects philosophically on his work from Italia 90: “I don’t think I’ve seen such a national uplift in people since that day. It wasn’t just about football it was bigger than that”.
‘Italia 90 Dublin’ is available now from the Café Royal Books website