"It’s almost as if you’re bringing them back to life," says Berlin-based designer Ian Hannigan of his colourisation of an iconic 1959 photograph featuring Waterford and Mount Sion legends Larry Guinan and Frankie Walsh.
The famous snap captures the pair with the Liam MacCarthy Cup along with a multitude of trophies including the Munster Cup and local club honours. Based in the German capital for the last 10 years, Waterford man Hannigan was inspired to restore the photograph through his love of hurling and friendship with Mount Sion clubmates.
“A good friend of mine is Eoin Fanning of the famous family and he would be a grandson of the former GAA president Pat. Another friend is Trevor Gallagher, whose father won a minor with Waterford. I never played hurling myself but Eoin got me hooked on the game about 20 years ago and when you’re away it’s that extra bit special. You cling onto it more.
“I’m in a WhatsApp group with all the lads from Waterford and it just dawned on me to try the famous Larry Guinan and Frankie Walsh one. I was blown away with the result, it was almost like they came to life and were in their twenties again.
“I shared it with the group and they loved it. Eoin knows the daughter of Frankie Walsh and asked could he share it with her. I said ‘no problem’ and they were blown away by it too. I put it up on Twitter then, added a couple of hashtags and tagged Mount Sion and it went flying and I was inundated with messages.
I was delighted that people got as much out of it as me and that was the kick. It’s also a weird feeling because it’s almost as if you’re bringing them back to life.
“There’s something about how their faces glow out of it that makes it great. That was taken by the famous Waterford photographer AH Poole and you can tell it’s a really high-quality photograph.
“Flickr is a great source for these photographs as well as the National Library of Ireland. Their portfolio of images are excellent. Add some colour and you see them with a whole new set of eyes.”
Hannigan has looked to the likes of John Breslin in NUIG and Rob Cross on Twitter and their use of Artificial Intelligence (AI) to colourise historical photographs.
“I use the super-resolution to upscale the image first and that results in a better colourisation. I might then add some touch-ups but I tend to leave a lot of the blemishes in place because I think they’re part of the image.”
Ian’s work can be followed on his Twitter account: @ianhannigan