Telling their own story: Homeless people in Dublin capture everyday life on the streets

A new exhibition highlights the issue of homelessness through the lens of those directly affectly

Telling their own story: Homeless people in Dublin capture everyday life on the streets

Photo: In Sight Project

Homeless people are rarely heard or seen in public life.

What we know of them is mostly hearsay: conveyed through figures, media reports and images of squalor. So what does everyday life look like when you end up on the streets?

In Sight, a new photo exhibition launched in Dublin today, tells the stories of homeless people living in and around the capital from their own perspective.

The 45 men and women were trained by award-winning photographer Des Byrne and tasked with documenting their daily routines over the course of 12 months.

The resulting photos capture humour, sadness, love, fear, excitement and worry - emotions familiar to people in every walk of life.

Members of the group take part in a photography workshop. Photo: In Sight

One of the participants in the project, Martin Breen, became homeless two years ago after returning to Dublin from working in the UK.

He had no place to stay and struggled to find accommodation in homeless shelters.

"I was sleeping rough for about a month in the Phoenix Park because I didn't feel safe in the city, and thought I could cope," he said.

"I was hiding my few belongings in the bushes and thought no one would find them ... but I returned one afternoon and they had all either been removed or taken, so I had nothing."

Martin began staying in one-night hostels, sleeping in dormitories with up to 20 people. Fights regularly broke out, and he often had to share rooms with people who were drunk or high on drugs.  

He had to leave the hostel at 9am every morning and needed to be back in at 9pm, leaving him with nothing to do but "spend all day walking around".

He finally secured accommodation at a longer-term hostel, where he has his own room and somewhere safe to sleep. But no visitors are allowed on site, which means relatives can't drop by.


'Fighting every day'

"Sometimes it’s depressing when you sit in your room," Martin said.

"It’s hard to get motivated and your mind races round and round. Sometimes you think thoughts you wouldn't dream of, but you have to snap out of it and think you are lucky to have what you have, because there is always someone worse off than you."

"There was a time when I worked in the UK that I was full of confidence and tried to enjoy life and what was around me, but over the last year I have lost my confidence and become very withdrawn," he added.

"I used to go out every day for a walk even in the rain, just to have something to do and clear my mind. But when you get so low, it’s very hard to find a way back. You have to keep fighting every day and hope something good will happen."

"My hopes for the future are that I can find my own place and have my children visit me for dinner and chats and maybe stay over the odd weekend, save money to buy a new camera and try restart my life for the better, so I pray every day for a better outcome."

Martin was one of 45 homeless people involved in the In Sight project, which was founded by marketing professionals Lynsey Browne and Lucy Ryan to raise money for the Dublin Simon Community.

The exhibition will run in Dublin’s Powerscourt Centre until May 29th. A more extensive selection of photos will be available to view and purchase online at from tomorrow.

All proceeds from the project will go to the Dublin Simon Community.

Photo: Martin Joyce

Photo: Tomasz Lubczynski

Photo: Tomasz Lubczynski

Photo: Tomasz Lubczynski

Photo: Valentina Camon

Photo: In Sight