It was the 12th April 1912 in Crosshaven, Ireland. The young Jesuit Francis Browne, Irish, had just left the RMS Titanic with which he had completed his journey from Southampton, England, to Cobh, famous Irish port next to Cork, once Queenstown. The reverend had with him his own camera. If it was for him, the trip from the British city would have carried on on the unsinkable ship but, called to order by his superior he came back to Ireland, back to his place.
After having photographed several pictures of the life on board, he took one last picture.
Probably Father Browne would have never imagined that this he had just took was the last picture of the most famous transatlantic in the world.
3 days after the snap 1,514 died in one of the worst naval disasters, in times of peace, which left many memories and loads of traumas to its survivors. The reverend saved himself, but his pictures remained unnoticed, there, forgotten for 73 years. Then one of his colleagues, Edward O’Donnell, rediscovered them.
Below: father Browne in adulthood
Francis Browne (1880-1960) was travelling on board of the Titanic thanks to a ticket that his uncle Robert (bishop of Cloyne) had sent him, the same uncle that time before had donated him a camera too. The 30 years old priest took plenty of pictures on the ship, the only person to photograph the radio station and the last one to take a picture of the Captain Edward John Smith. His trip, initially thought for the only section of Southampton-Queenstown via Cherbourg, in France, would have proceeded towards death amongst the gelid waters of the Atlantic, but randomly Browne’s superior summoned him back, forcing his to get off in Ireland.
A billionaire known a few days before had offered to pay for Browne’s ticket to the US.
Browne left the ship and came back home, becoming through the years as one of the most popular clerics as well as a well known photographer, appreciated for his reports in Ireland in the first half of the 1900. His pictures, especially the ones about the Titanic, were seen only in 1985, years after the death of its author. The collection of images was published in a book, below the book cover.
Below: Father’s Browne Titanic Album, available on Amazon
Below: from the book, some pictures: one of the ship decks
Below: the gym
Below: the 1st class dining room where Browne was accommodated
Below: the last picture of the Captain Smith
Source: Time Magazine