01 Jul 2022

Athy photographer's iconic collection goes on display

UCC acquires Minihan's collection

Athy photographer's iconic collection goes on display

Photographer John Minihan, Cronan O'Doibhlin and Colette McKenna UCC Library with Minihan's iconic portrait of Samuel Beckett Photo Michael McSweeney

UCC Library has secured the iconic photographic collection and archive of the Athy photographer John Minihan.

The collection comprises more than 30,000 original photographic negatives and prints, featuring famous images of Samuel Beckett, Seamus Heaney, Francis Bacon, Edna O’Brien, Jimi Hendrix, The Who, Lady Diana Spencer and many other literary and cultural figures.

John Minihan was born in Dublin in 1946 and raised in Athy. At the age of 12 he was brought to live in London where he became an apprentice photographer with the Daily Mail. At 21 he became the youngest staff photographer for the Evening Standard.

For 35 years he remained in London, returning every year to his hometown of Athy to record the people and their daily lives, producing many poignant images of a way of life that has permanently changed.

In over 50 years as a photographer, Minihan developed a close relationship with many writers.

It was the Athy photographs which presented the opportunity for Mr Minihan to meet with Nobel Prize winner, Samuel Beckett. His friendship with Beckett produced some of the most remarkable photographs ever taken of the writer.

“It is incredibly important to me that my body of work, especially the Athy photographs which I think capture an Irish way of life that is now gone, and indeed an ‘Irish face’ that has changed forever, has found a permanent home in Cork,” Mr Minihan said.

“My film and print collection will now be preserved. I will have left perhaps some small legacy and provided a witness to the people and traditions that I have come from. Athy, of course, was my introduction to the great Samuel Beckett, and the telling of that story now rests with the UCC archive.” UCC will list the collection and ensure its preservation and digitisation.

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