FRANK BROWNE, S.J – PHOTOGRAPHIC EXHIBITION
Frank Browne’s album of photographs from the first stages of the Titanic’s fateful maiden voyage (from Southampton to Cherbourg to Cobh) are world famous. As one of the Jesuits’ Missions and Retreats staff, he was resident in Emo Court from 1930, when the Irish Jesuits acquired the house as a novitiate, until 1957. During his years there, he took more than 5,000 photographs of life in St Mary’s (as Emo Court was known during the Jesuit occupancy from 1930 to 1969) and in the surrounding countryside. Frank Browne worked for many civic bodies including the Forestry Commission at Emo, the National Museum of Ireland, the British Museum and the Church of England Governing Body. Frank Browne developed nearly all of the photographs he took in his own room, then known as the Bachelors’ Quarters, now the Emo Tearooms. While based at Emo Court, Frank Browne travelled all over Ireland and Britain giving parish missions, and during this time he took more than 42,000 photographs. The negatives were found in 1985 by Fr Eddie O’Donnell SJ in the basement of the Irish Jesuit Provincial’s house. They were packed tight into a large black metal trunk, and with them was stored an album of prints, now known as Father Browne’s Titanic Album.
Frank Browne is probably best remembered for his iconic images taken while he was onboard the ill-fated Titanic liner in 1912, some of which form part of this exhibition. Frank Browne travelled from Southampton to Cherbourg and Cherbourg to Cork on board the ship and, indeed, may have had a lucky escape when he was refused permission to stay onboard and travel on to New York when his superior in the Jesuit order sent him a terse Marconi-gram simply stating “Get off that ship – Provincial”. But it is not just for his images of the Titanic that Frannk Browne is remembered. His photographic images represent a unique record of social history in Ireland, particularly from the beginning of the 20th century, and his chronicling of ordinary people going about their everyday lives has left a lasting legacy
This exhibition will run at Emo Court from Sunday 26th May on an ongoing basis.