(from The Washington Times by Martha Boltz) In 1985 when explorer-scientist Robert Ballard was discovering the remains of Titanic deep on the ocean floor, Father Edward E. O’Donnell was making a remarkable discovery in Dublin, Ireland. Going through a trunk of papers of Fr. Frank Browne, S.J., who had died in 1960, he discovered around 40,000 negatives.
Fr. Browne was an avid photographer, and the accompanying album was filled with neatly captioned photographs from his brief time on the Titanic. It was apparently the only set of photographs taken on board the ill-fated ocean liner on that one segment of her maiden voyage.
The priest’s life started out inauspiciously. Francis Patrick Mary Browne was born in 1880 in Cork, Ireland, the youngest of eight children of James Browne and Brigid Hegarity Browne.
Browne later lost both of his parents when he was young boy and had been raised by a devoted uncle Robert Browne, Bishop of Cloyne, the person who bought him his first camera. While he was a theology student in Dublin, Browne received a ticket from his Uncle Robert, sending him on the first leg only of the maiden voyage.
The excited young man boarded in Southampton for his short voyage on this wonderful ship, assigned to Room A37 on the Promenade Deck. While eating in the First Class dining room, he began to talk to a wealthy couple from America.
The three apparently had an enjoyable conversation that night, even to the extent that they offered to pay the rest of his fare to New York, to complete the journey. The grateful young man explained that his superior in Dublin would never permit this, and he must get off the ship when it docked in Cobb (Queenstown.)
Read the entire Washington Post story here. Browne’s photo albums and scrapbooks were on display in the United States for the first time ever this month at the Titanic Museum Attraction in Missouri and Tennessee.