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Photographs of Manx scenes taken by William Cavanagh whilst holidaying on the Isle of Man

Date(s): 1890-1910

Creator(s): Cavanagh, William G.

Scope & Content: Cavanagh captured many scenes in Douglas, its promenade, shore and harbour. These include attractions and features such as the Douglas Head ferries, Douglas Head Incline Railway, Warwick Tower, Falcon Cliff, Palace and Derby Castle amenities, Buxton's Pierrot Village and Tea Rooms, the Punch and Judy shows and donkeys on the beach.

His photography features people going about their business be they holiday makers or Island residents. Outside Douglas there are views of the Laxey Wheel and Laxey MER and Snaefell Mountain Railway station as well as Garwick halt, Groudle Railway and polar bears in Groudle glen.

Administration / Biographical History: William G. Cavanagh was born on 11 February 1862. In the late 1800s he inherited his father's harness business located at No 7 and No 11 North Street, New Ross, Co. Wexford, Ireland. This profitable business specialised in turning out silver and brass mounted patent leather harnesses.

Interested in photography, Cavanagh became an accomplished amateur photographer, investing in good equipment and processing his own work produced via glass plate negatives, celluloid and magic lantern slides. In later years his interest in radio earned him the nickname 'Wireless William'. In Ireland he photographed assorted subject matter including people, shipping, trade and activities in his home town of New Ross and different modes of transportation including railways, bicycling and motor cars. His images include documentation of the first Round Ireland Motor Run of the Irish Automobile Club.

Cavanagh and his wife Maria holidayed periodically in the Isle of Man, we know at least in 1901 and 1918 from dates on glass plate box labels. Two of their surviving Christmas photograph cards show scenes on Douglas beach (see PG/13607/4/1-2). After his death on 5 March 1952 Maria lived for another 5 years. At the auction of her household goods the last lot offered in the sale was 'a box of old photographs'. The sole successful bidder effectively saved Cavanagh's photography. More recently the Isle of Man related resources have kindly being transferred to the care of Manx National Heritage.

Biographical information provided here has been extracted from Jimmy Fitzgibbon's introduction to his book of Cavanagh images 'A Time and A Place - New Ross 1890 to 1910. A Photographic Record of the Time' (New Ross Historical Society, 2007).

Language: eng

Extent: 2 boxes

Physical description: negatives, prints

Item name: photographs and transparencies

Collection: Photographic Archive

Level: FONDS

ID number: PG/13607

Record class: Private


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