A HUGE crowd descended on Emo Court on Monday morning to be the first to view the newly opened photogrpahy exhibition ‘Through the eyes of Fr Browne’.
The exhibition was attended by Minister of State, Deputy Brian Hayes TD as well as many members of the Jesuit order, who lived in the building from the 1920s to the 1960s. The exhibition is a collection of a variety of work by Fr Browne, who is internationally renowned for his photographs, namely those he took of the Titanic.
Deptuy Hayes told a packed house that Emo was the “jewel in the crown of the midlands and a fantastic amenity in the area”. He said that Fr Browne was a “proilifc collector” of phtographs and had over 42,000 photos in his collection. He described the exhibition, which runs until September, as “another shot in the arm” for Emo Court, and praised the “ingenuity, flexibility and skill” of the OPW staff in making the exhibition happen.
Fr Eddie O’ Donnell, who curated the exhibition told the audience that he had been looking forward to the exhibition for the past 15 years. He described many aspects of Fr Browne’s colourful life in which he completed many projects. Some of these included making a film for the Forestry Commission on how trees are planted and felled, as well as two films for the Department of Agriculture - one on a better way of making butter, and the other about developing forests.
He also worked for the National Museum, The National Gallery, The Department of Post and Telegraphs, and the Department of Justice. Fr O’ Donnell spoke about the impact of Fr Browne’s work, and mentioned that at one Titanic exhibition which took place in Tokyo, 700,000 saw his work. Fr O’ Donnell discovered all the thousands of negatives in 1985 in a Jesuit House in Dublin and has been working since them to get them on display.
Deputy Charlie Flanagan also spoke on the day and said the exhibition opening was “a new chapter for the wonderful, historic house in Laois”. He said that he would like to see a permanent exhibition with as many photographs as the house could accomadate. Deputy Flanagan acknowledged the role of the Jesuits “who did a huge service to the state by maintaining the house”. He also described the house as “the jewel in the crown of Laois”, and invited those from the county and beyond to come and enjoy the house and its gardens.