Saturday, 19 September 2009


Photographic exhibition by Thomas “The Miller” Doherty

A unique photographic collection of Buncrana throughout the years is now on display at the Inishowen Art Gallery, Milltown Business Park, Ardaravan.

Thomas “The Miller” Doherty from Ballymagan Buncrana, has been snapping and collecting old images of Buncrana and local residents since 1944. It started when he worked for Neil Farren who was the chemist in the town. “Neil was also a professional photographer as well as a chemist and was a real inspiration to me.” Thomas explains, “He saw I was interested in taking pictures and bought me my first camera, a box brownie.”

“Neil and I would go out to the Plaza on the Main St and Neil would take photos of people dancing and enjoying themselves.”

“As the pictures were taken I would take the film to Neil’s wife and she would develop them straight away in the shop. It’s hard to believe now, but thanks to a state of the art Roll Head printer, those photos were ready by two in the morning when the Plaza closed. Neil and I would be outside the Plaza doors with the pictures ready for sale. We sold hundreds of them.” He remembers.

Thomas, who is a long time member of the Buncrana West Inishowen History and Heritage Society, explains how the exhibition came about.

“I was talking to Adam Porter who runs the Inishowen Art Gallery about this year being Heritage Year and we thought it would be a great idea to set up the exhibition to celebrate the fact. Adam is showcasing Inishowen based artists in his gallery so this exhibition complements it well.”

Thomas also hopes people will be generous and put some money in the donation box in aid of the Foyle Hospice. Copy of the prints will also be available and all of the proceeds from these will also go to the Hospice.

“There isn’t a family in Inishowen that hasn’t been affected by illnesses such as cancer so the hospice is a vital part of the community and is well worth supporting.” Neil reminds us.

The photos Thomas has in his vast collection are of people of Buncrana dating back over 100 years. There are also street scenes. “It’s amazing how many people who look at the images see someone that they know or are related to”

Thomas also takes his show on the road and has done slideshows in local schools and the Buncrana library and is keen to expand his collection “ If anyone has old photo’s of the town and people from the area I would love to see them.” He says. “I can take a copy instantly and give them straight back. Photo’s are very precious and they become more valuable over time, and I realise their value to families.”

Adam Ported is delighted to have the photographs in his new purpose designed art gallery in the HML complex at Ardaravan. “Thomas has gathered the most comprehensive collection of local photographic history and we are delighted to have it here at the Inishowen Art Gallery. I think it will be a real draw for local people to come in and is bound to awaken some old memories.

Thomas agrees “Photo’s are for sharing” he concludes.

The exhibition is on now at the Inishowen Art Gallery, Milltown Business Park, Buncrana. For more information please contact Adam on 086 3552500

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