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Donegal photos by 'Titanic priest' published

Near Culdaff in Inishowen, 1929
Nirn N Ruaidhr

IRISH News columnist Denis Bradley will tonight launch a volume of photographs from the collection of Fr Francis Browne, the prolific early 20th century photographer best known for documenting life aboard the Titanic on its ill-fated maiden voyage.

Father Brownes Donegal, by EE ODonnell, is a series of photographs of Inishowen and south Donegal area taken by the priest, a regular visitor to Donegal from the 1920s to the late 1940s. The images capture the landscapes, people, architecture and way of life of the time.

Corkman Fr Browne  who travelled from Southhampton to Cobh, then called Queenstown, on the Titanic, taking dozens of images of the ill-fated crew and New York-bound passengers before he disembarked  died in 1960. It was not until 26 years after his death that author EE ODonnell, a fellow Jesuit, discovered 42,000 negatives of his photographs in a trunk.

The images, more than 20 books of which have been published, provide a valuable visual record of the way Irish people lived during the first half of the 20th century.

An Inishowen native himself, the area that is the focus of the latest publication is dear to Mr Bradley's heart. I still live half my life there so my attraction to the book was Inishowen and the south west of Donegal," he said. "The book shows the beauty of these places while portraying the poverty and emigration that affected them.?

It is a fascinating book, and Fr Browne was an extraordinary man. There werent too many people got on the Titanic and got back off it alive.

:: Denis Bradley will launch Father Brownes Donegal tonight at 7pm in Donegal County Museum, Letterkenny. The book is published by Messenger Publications.

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