Photographer recalls his ‘happiest times’

Legendary photographer Terry O’Neill was at CIT Wandesford Quay Gallery last night for the launch of his first exhibition in Cork.

Photographer recalls his ‘happiest times’

It was a homecoming of sorts for O’Neill, whose father Leonard was born and bred on Blarney St.

O’Neill, who grew up in London, will always be associated with the Swinging Sixties, when he photographed and befriended many of the stars of the era, including The Beatles and The Rolling Stones. Later, he worked for several years in Hollywood.

Despite being associated with many of the biggest names in entertainment over the past six decades, O’Neill recalled his childhood holidays in Cork as being “the happiest times of my life”.

His exhibition was opened by the Lord Mayor of Cork, John Buttimer, who said O’Neill’s work “captures the zeitgeist. His photographs communicate to people the whole world over”.

Curator Tina Darb O’Sullivan said O’Neill was so enthusiastic about exhibiting in Cork, that he contributed 35 of his most iconic images. These include his portraits of Brigitte Bardot, Frank Sinatra, and The Beatles.

The works will be on display in two venues, CIT Wandesford Quay Gallery and the Atrium at City Hall, until Feb 22. Other portraits include Bruce Springsteen, David Bowie, and Amy Winehouse.

Earlier yesterday, O’Neill went to Blarney St to see his old family home, before going to Wise’s Hill, where he visited the house where he holidayed with his late uncle Leo.

At a reception at City Hall hosted by Mr Buttimer later in the afternoon, O’Neill met with many of his cousins.

One cousin, Billy Smyth, recalled O’Neill’s father Leonard as a tall, distinguished figure, with whom he had stayed on many occasions in London.

Smyth and several others in the family travelled to the city for a This Is Your Life special presented by Eamon Andrews in 1985.

Another cousin, William O’Neill, remembered how O’Neill’s then wife, the Hollywood star Faye Dunaway, had arranged for them all to be chauffeured around London in two vintage Bentleys.

His sister Marie Lee said O’Neill had once called to their mother’s house on Blarney St with “an American actress”. The actress was Dunaway, to whom their mother had happily given “a glass of Fanta in the kitchen”.

Terry O’Neill will sign copies of his book All About Bond at CIT Wandesford Quay Gallery at 1pm today.

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