Newswire » Local History » Famous Dublin Street Characters Part 3 – Arthur Fields, The Man On The Bridge

Famous Dublin Street Characters Part 3 – Arthur Fields, The Man On The Bridge

Arthur Fields - O'Connell Bridge Photographer - The Man On The Bridge

He was known locally and fondly by the moniker “man on the bridge”. His real name was Arthur Fields, who with his family came to Dublin to start a new life. As a Jewish family they found it difficult living on the continent in a time of high anti Semitism. Arthur left his home in Kiev, Ukraine in 1885 with his brothers and parents on a horse and cart in the middle of the night with just a few personal belongings. They firstly travelled to Britain, then made their way to our wonderful city of Dublin, and settled here. Arthur changed his name from Abraham Feldman to Arthur Fields to blend in more with the Irish, he was known more informally as Abby to his family. The young family felt that a name change to hide their Jewish heritage might be necessary for fear of further anti-Semitism however, most people knew their faith and saw no difference.

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Arthur got married and he decided to set up a recording studio in Dublin, where people could just pop in pay the fee and have their voice recorded. People in Dublin were quite poor and could not afford such a luxury, so sadly the business did not take off. Arthur then invested in a box type camera and stood on O’Connell Street bridge with a handmade noticed tied around his neck which simply stated “I Take Photographs”. In the early days people would ask him to take their photographs especially men who were on dates and trying to impress the ladies.

They were given a number on a special ticket, paid the fee and at a later stage either went to the shop that he and his wife ran on Pearse Street where they gave in their ticket then got their photograph or Arthur would post them their photograph if they were just visiting Dublin. There was never one record of anyone never getting their photo. The shop was his studio room where he processed his photographs. In the 1960’s he switched to instant photography thanks to Polaroid and was able to give the customers their photographs there and then, a delight in itself. It is believed he worked on O’Connell Bridge for over 5 decades and it’s also believed he took just over 200,000 photographs!

Famous Irish stars also got photographed including the actor Noel Purcell, Brendan Behan and Margaret Rutherford. Arthur was arrested a few times for having no licence to sell but it didn’t put him off, and it was believed old type police sergeants’ used to give out to rookies who booked in Arthur for selling without a licence. Sometimes Arthur’s brother David used to stand on the other side of the bridge and they would catch people coming and going. Arthur sometimes visited cinema queues and catch people going in. Arthur retired from the bridge in 1985 and lived for another 9 years before he passed away peacefully in 1994.

His legacy is a collection of photographs spanning from the 1930s to 1980s illustrating how Dublin’s social scene evolved from pre world war two to teddy boys to 70s flairs. An interactive film documentary has just been made about Arthur’s life and is available here.

Arthur was a sturdy and committed man, living in Raheny, he would walk to and from the bridge every day, a 10 mile round trip. Though there was other photographers who competed with him, he saw them all off over his five decade tenure as the man on the bridge.

This is a promotional Video created as part of a submission to the Arthur Guinness Projects funding programme. Man On Bridge is an interactive documentary about Arthur Fields, a street photographer who captured an estimated 182,500 photos of passersby on O'Connell Bridge. El Zorrero Films are producing a web-based documentary that lets people learn about Arthur and allows them to submit their own Arthur Fields photo or Arthur Fields-inspired photo into the online story of the photographer. Get more info here.

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One Response

  1. Admin says:

    For release on the 28th of March 2014


    El Zorrero Films are delighted to announce that the national photographic campaign titled Man on Bridge has launched at

    Man on Bridge collects the photos and tells the story of the legendary Arthur Fields, a street photographer who captured passersby on Dublin’s O’Connell Bridge and Street from the 1930s to the 1980s. He is estimated to have taken hundreds of thousands photos of ordinary Dubliners.

    Were you, your parents or your grandparents snapped by Arthur Fields, known simply as “The Man on the Bridge”?

    This photo collection project is about creating a unique photo archive of Dublin over fifty years using just these cherished family photographs. The Man on Bridge team are collecting both photographs taken by Arthur and any of the other street photographers who operated on O’Connell Bridge and Street.

    You can add any relevant photo or just enjoy the story of a Dublin legend by visiting

    You can also bring along your photos to one of the scan days on the following dates anytime from 10am to 5pm.

    Clerys, O’Connell Street, Saturday 29th of March
    Rathmines Library, Monday 31st of March
    Ballymun Library, Tuesday 1st of April
    Coolock Library, Wednesday 2nd of April
    Ballyfermot Library, Thursday 3rd of April
    Cabra Library, Saturday 5th of April
    Gallery of Photography, Temple Bar, Sunday 6th of April
    Raheny Library, Monday 7th of April
    Central Library, Saturday 12th of April

    Feel free to distribute the locations and dates relevant to your publication.

    High resolution images can be found here:

    If you have any questions, don’t hesitate to email or call Dave Clarke on 01-5213334 or 0857206653.

    Kind regards,

    Team Man on Bridge

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