By Lisa Johnston, Tour Guide, Belfast City Sightseeing
Historic photographs taken on board the Titanic have just gone on display in a brand new exhibition in Belfast. The photographs were taken by Father Frank Browne, an Irish priest who was a passenger on board the Titanic in 1912 on the ship’s ill-fated maiden voyage.
The exhibition, which is free, is called ‘Frank Browne: Through The Lens’, and is being staged at Titanic Belfast which is Stop No 3 on Belfast City Sightseeing’s hop-on hop-off open top bus tour.
Fr Browne was one of the most significant Irish photographers in the first half of the twentieth century and his Titanic photographs brought him international fame in 1912 when they were published in newspapers all around the world.
Fr Browne was not on board the Titanic when she struck the iceberg as he had been ordered off the ship by his superior at Cobh in Ireland (formerly called Queenstown) which was the Titanic’s last port of call before she set sail across the Atlantic.
By 1916 he was a First World War chaplain to the Irish Guards. In 1921 Fr Browne, who was born in Cork, took his final vows and still suffering from war wounds he went to Australia to recuperate and took a superb series of photographs of life Down Under.
On his return to Ireland he continued to record aspects of Irish life as well as writing articles for The Kodak Magazine. He died in 1960 and his large portfolio of photographic work (estimated at 41,500 images) was largely forgotten until 1985 when Fr Edward O’Donnell discovered a trunk containing the negatives. Many of them had badly deteriorated but they have since been restored.
So make sure to take advantage of Belfast City Sightseeing’s 48-hour open top bus ticket and hop-off at Stop No 3 to see for yourself just what Titanic Belfast has to offer.
Frank Browne: Through The Lens is free and runs until 31 March in the Andrews Gallery at Titanic Belfast, 1 Olympic Way, Queen’s Road, Belfast BT3 9EP. Titanic Belfast is open daily from 10am-5pm. As the Andrews Gallery is also used for other events please check in advance when planning your visit that the gallery is open.