By Timothy Gillis
PORTLAND – The Maine Irish Heritage Center will host a photography exhibit on Friday, June 15, from 6:30 to 8:30 p.m. Bill Finney, photographer of the Quin Abbey collection, will be there to discuss his work on this Franciscan abbey, built in 1402 in County Clare, Ireland. A wine and cheese reception is at 6:30 p.m., after which Ann Quinlan, a tour guide of trips to her native Ireland for thirty years, will introduce Finney, who was a commercial photographer for New Hampshire and worked for the governor’s office.
“I worked with people. I did an extensive project on New Hampshire agricultural fairs, including animals and people,” Finney said. “I settled on work for art galleries and the Shaker Village in Canterbury, New Hampshire.”
The photography exhibit kicks off a summer’s-worth of activities at the Maine Irish Heritage Center, 34 Gray Street, at the old St. Dominic’s church, and will be on view all summer. On Saturday, June 16, the Center is involved with Bloomsday celebrations, and will feature the traditional Irish group Boghat and actress Janet Lynch doing a selection from “Love’s Old Sweet Song,” her one-woman show with music about Molly Bloom. This show is at 7:30 p.m.
“The photographic opening is a perfect way to showcase the beauty of this Center,” said archivist and curator Michael Connell. “We are thrilled to be able to have Mr. Finney be with us to discuss his work.”
Finney, who has been taking pictures for nearly sixty years, spoke recently about his life in images.
“After the Abbey, I did mostly scenic-type things,” he said. “Most of my images in Ireland are landscapes. My wife Alden and I have enjoyed over two dozen trips to Ireland since the mid 1980s, and I became an Irish citizen in 1992 through my maternal grandfather from Trim in County Meath.”
Finney retired from his business of commercial/documentary photography in Hopkinton, New Hampshire in 2004, and is now engaged in fine arts photography. He has since moved to Great Diamond Island in Casco Bay. “I like to kid that this is as close as I could get my dear wife Alden to Ireland,” he said.
“The several times photographing Quin Abbey and staying in the Ryan’s bed and breakfast in the town of Quin gave me the opportunity of gaining several friendships in the village and getting a first hand experience of life in Ireland,” Finney said.
“I was photographing using silver prints then, but it is all digital now,” he said. “Both are interesting, but digital is a much simpler medium to work in.”