Page 1

Father Browne’s Kerry EE O’Donnell

Messenger Publications Dublin 2012


First published in 2012 by Messenger Publications Messenger Publications, 37 Lower Leeson Street, Dublin 2 www.messenger.ie

ISBN number 978-1-872245-90-4

The material in this publication is protected by copyright law. Except as may be permitted by law, no part of the material may be reproduced (including by storage in a retrieval system) or transmitted in any form or by any means, adapted, rented or lent without the written permission of the copyright owners. Applications for permissions should be addressed to the publisher. Text © 2012, EE O’Donnell SJ Photographs © The Father Browne SJ Collection Father Browne prints are available from Davison & Associates, 69B Heather Road, Sandyford Industrial Estate, Dublin 18 www.fatherbrowne.com www.davisonphoto.com Designed by Messenger Publications, 2012 Typeset in Candara and Trajan Printed in Ireland by Anglo Printers Ltd


Table of Contents op

Introduction:

................................................................................................. 4

Chapter One:

Townscapes.............................................................................7

Chapter Two:

Landscapes............................................................................ 19

Chapter Three: Seascapes.............................................................................. 31 Chapter Four:

People................................................................................... 43

Chapter Five:

Children..................................................................................55

Chapter Six:

At Work................................................................................. 67

Chapter Seven: At Play................................................................................... 79 Chapter Eight: Religion.................................................................................. 91 Chapter Nine:

Fair Days............................................................................... 103

Chapter Ten:

Curiosities.............................................................................115


Introduction op

4

Most readers of this book will probably know all they want – or need – to know about Francis Mary Hegarty Browne. These few paragraphs will just serve to refresh their memories. Those of you who are not familiar with his life and work might like to have the following brief outline.

Unfortunately, both of Frank’s parents died when he was still young and it was his uncle, Robert Browne, Bishop of Cloyne, who became his guardian. Frank was sent to school at Christian Brothers College (Cork), The Bower Convent (Athlone), Belvedere College (Dublin) and Castleknock College (Co. Dublin).

Frank Browne was born in Cork in 1880. He turned out to be more interested in the arts than in field-games and thus had no antipathy to County Kerry. His father was a wealthy merchant who lived in Sunday’s Well and his mother, Mary Hegarty, was the daughter of a former Lord Mayor of Cork City. The family home was put on the market in 2012 and I had the privilege of being shown around it at the time. Buxton House was, and still is, beautiful.

In 1897, on the completion of his secondary education, he went on a Grand Tour of Europe with his brother William and with a new camera provided by Uncle Robert. The pictures he took in France, Italy, Switzerland and Germany were the first of the 42,000 photographs he would go on to take during his lifetime. On returning to Ireland he joined the Society of Jesus and spent two years in the noviciate at St Stanislaus


College, Tullabeg, Co. Offaly. In 1899 he moved to Dublin and graduated from the Royal University three years later. Since he had been in the same class as fellow-Belvederian James Joyce, it is hardly surprising to hear that “Mr Browne the Jesuit” features more than once in the pages of Finnegans Wake. The next three years were spent in the Jesuit Philosophate at Chieri, near Turin. It was during this time that Frank developed an interest in painting and he had the opportunity of visiting many of the famous art galleries of Northern Italy to study the Old Masters in cities such as Genoa, Milan, Venice and Florence. Photographic experts have noted how influential these studies were for the future photographer. He learnt a lot in terms of composition, line, lighting and perspective. The pictures you see in this book have not been ‘cropped’ in any way. David Davison, the expert who made the prints, is on record as saying he would not be able to improve on Browne’s framing. Frank returned to Ireland in 1906 and was sent to teach at his old alma mater, Belvedere College. There he founded the Camera Club and The Belvederian annual, both still extant. In 1911 he was moved to the south side of Dublin to begin four years of theological studies at Milltown Park. It was while in Second Year here, during the Easter holidays, that he travelled on the maiden voyage of ‘Titanic’ from Southampton to Queenstown via Cherbourg. At the end of his Third Year of theology – as is customary among Jesuits – he was ordained a priest, thereby becoming ‘Father’ Browne for the first time.

On completing his studies the following year (the Easter Rising notwithstanding), he was appointed Chaplain to the Irish Guards and dispatched to France and Flanders. Between then and the end of World War I, he was injured five times, gassed once, decorated by the King of the Belgians, received the French Croix de Guerre. From the British he received the Military Cross and Bar, a point which elicited some interesting comments from an eminent English lawyer, who wrote to me in April 2012 as follows: That Fr Browne should have been awarded the MC with Bar earned when serving as Chaplain to the Irish Guards whilst (as a Jesuit) he was still technically subject to penalties under the Roman Catholic Relief Act 1791, and earlier legislation, was a fitting end to a curious and extended period of non-enforcement of the law… In Britain the law against Jesuits was not finally abolished until the Roman Catholic Relief Act of 1926. From 1918 to 1920 the chaplain remained with the Irish Guards who formed part of the Army of Occupation in the Rhineland. He took many photographs of Cologne, Bonn and environs during this period. When he returned to Dublin, he taught again at Belvedere until he was appointed Superior of Gardiner Street Church in 1924. Shortly after this appointment, however, his health took a turn for the worse. The mustard-gas he had inhaled in 1918 – as was the case with many soldiers – began to rot his lungs and the doctors told him that a warmer climate just might save

5


his life. That is how he came to spend most of 1925 and 1926 in Australia. His health recovered quickly enough for him to attend ‘Ashes’ test-matches at the cricket-ovals of Brisbane and Adelaide (not to mention the horse-races at Melbourne or the sheep-shearing competitions at Kangeroobie!). Back in Ireland he resumed office as Superior of St Francis Xavier’s Church until 1929. Then he was appointed to the Jesuit Retreats and Missions Staff, a position which he was to hold for the rest of his life. This work took him to nearly every parish in Ireland, many of them in County Kerry. The 1,170 photographs he took during his travels around that county show that he went nearly everywhere by bus with the exception of the Dingle Peninsula which still had a train. For holiday trips (such as the one to Ballydavid and around Slea Head) he was able to borrow a car from a doctor friend in Dublin. This doctor’s son wrote to me a few years ago to tell me that Frank Browne liked to borrow ‘Miss Riley’, the doctor’s larger car. One Saturday afternoon, when the doctor was driving up the Main Road in the Phoenix Park at a leisurely pace, another car whooshed past in a cloud of dust and disappeared towards the Castleknock Gate. When the doctor realised who was at the helm, he banned the good Father from borrowing ‘Miss Riley’ for evermore.

6

When Father Browne died – of natural causes – in 1960, his trunkful of negatives was consigned to the Jesuit archives in the basement of a house on Eglinton Road, Dublin. I found them there in 1985. The story of their preservation by David Davison and his son Edwin, thanks to Allied Irish Bank, has been told and retold.

What has not been told is that only a few years later the Jesuit Provincialate on Eglinton Road was burnt to the ground. The archives where Father Browne’s photographs used to be kept were totally destroyed. It was providential that they had been removed. Finally, readers will like to know if the camera that took these Kerry pictures still exists. Actually Father Browne had given it as a present to John Moore, a Jesuit student of botany whom he had taught to make tiny pictures for showing in glass slides under a microscope. That was 1958. John went on to become the Professor of Botany at UCD and then moved to a similar position at the University of Lusaka, Zambia. When he was visiting Ireland about ten years ago, Fr Moore knocked at my door and told me he had a present for me. Saying that he thought it should now be part of the Browne Collection (of which I am curator), he handed me the famous camera, complete with its original German leather case. What a thrill! But then calamity struck again. This time it was my house at Gonzaga College which was burnt to the ground. One man lost his life, R.I.P. Two days later the firemen were still dousing the smoking ruins. My third-floor room was now in bits in the basement. The firemen were looking for anything recognisable. One of them came out and handed me a burnt offering, saying it was the only metal object to survive. It was Father Browne’s Contax camera, minus its leather case but complete with unbroken Zeiss lens. It is now on display at the permanent Father Browne Exhibition which the Office of Public Works has mounted at Emo Court, County Laois. The man who survived the ‘Titanic’ and the trenches of World War I is still surviving.


Chapter One op

Townscapes

7


Killarney from the north, showing the spire of St Mary’s Cathedral (1941). Designed by Augustus Pugin between 1842 and 1856, this is considered to be the finest Irish work of the architect of the Palace of Westminster and ‘Big Ben’.

9


“Oyez! Oyez!” The town crier in action, Killarney (1941).

10


On the verandah of the Central Hotel, Ballybunion (1942).

11


View of the town of Annascaul on the Dingle Peninsula (1943).

12


Main Square, Listowel (1944). St John’s Church of Ireland – built in 1819 – is in the foreground. Deconsecrated in 1988, it now houses St John’s Theatre and Arts Centre. St Mary’s Catholic church – built 1829 – is on the right.

13


Henry Street, Kenmare (1945). Father Browne took this shot from the steps of the Post Office.

14


Church Street, Milltown (1946).

15


Father Browne Books (Compiled by EE O’Donnell SJ)

The Annals of Dublin, Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1987 Father Browne’s Ireland, Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1989 The Genius of Father Browne, Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1990 Forest Images, Dublin: The Irish Society of Foresters, 1992 Father Browne: A Life in Pictures, Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1994 Father Browne’s Australia, Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1994 Father Browne’s Cork, Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1995 Father Browne’s Dublin, Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1996 Father Browne’s England, Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1996 L’Irlande du Père Browne, Paris: Anatolia Editions, 1996 Father Browne’s ‘Titanic’ Album, Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1997 The Last Days of the‘Titanic’, Boulder, Colorado: Roberts Rinehart, 1997 ‘Titanic’ Postcards, Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1997 Images of Aran, Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1998 The Jesuits in Dublin, Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 1999 Father Browne’s Ships and Shipping, Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 2000 Father Browne’s Tipperary, Dublin: Wolfhound Press, 2001 Father Browne’s Trains & Railways, Dublin: Currach Press, 2004 Father Browne’s Limerick, Dublin: Currach Press, 2005 Father Browne’s Galway, Dublin: Currach Press, 2006 All Our Yesterdays: Father Browne’s Photographs of Children, Dublin: Currach Press, 2006 The Annals of Dublin (Updated), Dublin: Currach Press, 2008 The Father Browne Yeats, Dublin: Messenger Publications, 2010 The Father Browne ‘Titanic’ Album, Centenary Edition, Dublin: Messenger Publications, 2011

16


TO ACCESS FULL CONTENT VISIT OUR WEBSITE:

WWW.MESSENGER.IE


Fr Browne Kerry  
Read more
Read more
Similar to
Popular now
Just for you