Photographer Michael Minihane dies, aged 97

Michael and Nancy Minihane putting 'summer on the door' of their home in Bridge Street, Skibbereen, Co Cork. Photo: Anne Minihane. Courtesy of The Southern Star

A highly-respected photographer who chronicled life and times in the towns, villages, and islands of West Cork over a number of decades has died.

Michael Minihane, who died aged 97, had been the first photographer at the scene of the Whiddy Island oil terminal disaster in 1979 when 51 people perished after a French ship exploded in Bantry Bay.

Whiddy Island disaster: The centre section of the tanker 'Betelgeuse' being raised near Bantry. Photo: Michael Minihane
Whiddy Island disaster: The centre section of the tanker 'Betelgeuse' being raised near Bantry. Photo: Michael Minihane

And, also that year, his images recorded the Fastnet Race tragedy in which 15 sailors died after a freak and violent August storm hit competitors in one of yachting's greatest challenges between Cowes in England and West Cork.

He had a rare gift which great photographers possess of having the skill to seek out vantage points to secure attention-grabbing images.

A staff man with the then Cork Examiner for more than 25 years, his legacy lives on in a comprehensive collection of magnificent images, many of which adorned the pages of the Examiner, The Evening Echo and The Southern Star over many decades.

His daughter Anne and son Denis, who works for the Irish Examiner and an award-winning photographer himself on many occasions, carry on the tradition of capturing life through the lens.

Mr Minihane, a businessman for many years, and his widow Nancy were married for more than 60 years and made their home in Skibbereen where they had a family-of-five; Denis, Carmel, Sean, Anne, and Clare.

He had a lifetime love of the sea and particularly the surrounding inhabited islands. A tireless worker, his enthusiasm saw him engage in a number of careers as a fisherman, newsagent, sailor, soldier, printer, and photographer.

Mr Minihane was a gifted musician and singer and, despite failing health, continued to play his accordion until recent times.

He died this morning, surrounded by his family, at Bantry General Hospital where he had been admitted in recent weeks.

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