Photographer Thomas J. Wynne, 1838-1893

Photographer Thomas J. Wynne, 1838-1893

Creator of the photographs in our Wynne Album, advertising his photographic studio on Main Street in Castlebar, Co. Mayo.

Upcycling this one, as I thought it was about time we zoom in on some of the photographers who produced the images we all have a very good time with (apologies for dangling preposition). Maybe we can find out more about the people behind the lens?

Date: Thursday, 26 October 1871 (if Mr Wynne’s calendar is accurate)

NLI Ref.: WYN1

38 thoughts on “Photographer Thomas J. Wynne, 1838-1893

  1. Mike Hannon

    Interesting to note that both of the Wynne images you’ve uploaded have a magenta cast. Is there a specific reason for this?

    I have a fading print of this photograph in the family album, which I thought of uploading to my stream, but you beat me to it. 🙂

  2. National Library of Ireland on The Commons
    National Library of Ireland on The Commons says:

    Oh sorry, Mike! I was just so eager to get it up there. Really don’t know about the magenta cast – many of our Wynne photos have it, and I love it personally…

  3. Mike Hannon

    No need to apologise at all. It’s one of those photos I was sure you’d have, and in far superior quality to the print I have.
    The remainder of the photographs I have are of the immediate Wynne family members, and then my Great-grandfathers offspring, so I hope to see many more of T.J’s photos here.

  4. National Library of Ireland on The Commons
    National Library of Ireland on The Commons says:

    Well, if you’re uploading any of the family members to your own stream, let’s know – would love to see what they looked like…

  5. Mike Hannon

    Haha! I don’t think I’ll go that far yet, as I only have the free account on here, and I’m limited to 200 photos. I did come across two postcards from the era that I’ve scanned and posted, and though the photographs aren’t credited to Thomas, they may be of interest…….

  6. Jack Falstaff
    Jack Falstaff says:

    What a splendid photograph. Is the print gold-toned? it is impossible to tell from a digital reproduction. If so, perhaps the magenta cast is due to the presence of a small amount of copper chloride in the gold toning solution – the copper would have been present in the gold used to make the toner and would not have been an intentional addition.

  7. swordscookie more off than on
    swordscookie more off than on says:

    I see he has a print of the Last Supper on display – was it taken live?????

  8. Marine Attack Squadron ( VMA ) 225
    Marine Attack Squadron ( VMA ) 225 says:

    Finally, A Picture from County Mayo ( God Help Us ) !!!

  9. National Library of Ireland on The Commons
    National Library of Ireland on The Commons says:

    [] Over 1100 photos of Mayo in our catalogue! Just enter Mayo in the Search Box for All Fields, and click on Show Digitised items only:

  10. media_queen

    I have a photograph that Wynne took of my gggrandmother Maureen Shea circa 1890

  11. SheilaP73

    [] Mike, I am related to a Robert Wynne who married Theresa Penny in Dublin. Is it possible that he is related?


  12. DannyM8

    Currently the Shop is for sale see –

    Prime Residential/ Retail property known as Wynnes Newsagency".
    The Wynne family have traded successfully on these premises since
    1864 now for sale due to the retirement from this Business by the
    Current Owner who wishes to pursue other interests. The sale
    represents an excellent opportunity to take over this Business as a
    going concern. Obviously the premises is ideal for many retail
    Businesses due to its prime location midway on Castlebar’s Main
    The accommodation comprises: – Ground floor newsagents + lower
    ground floor c.930 sq.ft ; First floor : c. 770 sq.ft ; Second
    floor : c. 777 sq.ft.

  13. DannyM8,+castlebar+mayo&hl=… street View

  14. DannyM8

    Long lived business – nearly 150 years..

  15. John Spooner

    No timewasters!
    Freeman’s Journal, Saturday, April 7, 1877

  16. DannyM8

    After 147 years in business Wynne’s of Castlebar closed its doors for the last time on Monday 6th of June 2011 surrounded by family, good friends and fellow shopkeepers. see

    "It is a dreadful time for me and my siblings having to close this long established family business. Making the decision to close has been very difficult but will ultimately, I hope, lead to a better future for me and the staff who have lost our jobs.

    I had hoped to be able to trade out of the recession and close this historic family business with the ceremony it deserved, but the economic downturn, the very bad weather last winter and the street works have meant I had to change that plan.

    I wish to thank most sincerely all my staff for their loyalty throughout the years and particularly throughout these last difficult years.

    I also wish to extend my heartfelt thanks to the customers of Wynnes who have maintained a steadfast loyalty to us throughout the years."

    Richard Wynne

  17. DannyM8

    He’s the fourth generation of his family to run the business and he admits to feeling a certain ‘historical guilt’ at the closure.
    His great-grandfather Thomas Joseph Wynne set up shop in 1864 with a general store and a renowned photography business. A fascinating man, he’s worthy of a story in his own right. His son Richard Joseph Wynne took over the general store while another son, Thomas, ran the photography business across the road.
    Des Wynne, Richard’s father, a well-known character continued the family line. His wife, Ita, took over after his death in 1978 and Richard took over the running of it when he left college in the 1980s. You can sense the history in the place………………Richard Wynne openly admits that he had made the decision to sell-up three years ago but while he sorted out issues with ground rent, a legacy from the infamous Lord Lucan estate, the recession started to take hold and suddenly it wasn’t a seller’s market anymore

  18. National Library of Ireland on The Commons
    National Library of Ireland on The Commons says:

    Thanks all. I’ll add some info shortly from the Dictionary of Irish Biography.

  19. Cuddly Nutter
    Cuddly Nutter says:

    The Magenta cast to the photos may be because they are Ferrotypes so called because of the iron of which it is composed. A photograph is made by creating a direct positive on a sheet of iron metal that is blackened by painting, with a protective varnish or Japan, of which one is of a rich black or brown-black color,and is used as a support for a collodion photographic emulsion.
    Photographers usually worked outside at fairs, carnivals etc. and as the support of the Ferrotype (there is no actual tin used) is resilient and does not need drying, photographs can be produced only a few minutes after the picture is taken. Early instant photography !!
    You can see in the above photo that the top is brown-black and towards the bottom has faded over time to magenta.

  20. National Library of Ireland on The Commons
    National Library of Ireland on The Commons says:

    [] Sorry, I should have added Albumen Print into the tags, as I usually would for Glass Negatives, etc. The original of this image (as I think are most of our digitised Wynne photos) was an albumen print.

  21. John Spooner

    Another situation vacant. Must be a Lady, and include a photograph.
    Freeman’s Journal Saturday, June 11, 1887

  22. John Spooner

    Freeman’s Journal, Saturday, September 27, 1884
    The Wasp went down off Tory Island with the loss of 52 lives on Monday 22nd September
    Report in the Belfast News-letter Wednesday, September 24, 1884

  23. swordscookie more off than on
    swordscookie more off than on says:

    Good idea to recycle it Carol, as I said on the Carnlough image these give you some idea how difficult conditions, equipment problems and such like were for the early pioneers. It makes it all the more amazing and pleasing to enjoy the wonderful scenes and personalities they preserved for us frozen in time!

  24. swordscookie more off than on
    swordscookie more off than on says:

    [] The six survivors of the sinking of the HMS Wasp at Tory Island in 1884 were given a rousing welcome when they got to Derry afterwards. Was the shipwreck the result of a catalogue of errors – or were dark otherworldly forces called up by the islanders?

  25. beachcomberaustralia
    beachcomberaustralia says:

    An early example of the selfie !

  26. National Library of Ireland on The Commons
    National Library of Ireland on The Commons says:

    Most salient information on Mr Wynne from the excellent Dictionary of Irish Biography:

    … was born probably in the United States… In 1861 Wynne established a news agency and stationery shop in Castle St., Castlebar, moving (1864) to premises in Market St. (now Main St.), where the lines of merchandise were extended to include books, fine art prints, and sheet music. He also provided a newspaper delivery service, a lending library, and occasional day excursions by steamer from Westport, and set up as an auctioneer in 1886. …

    In 1867 Wynne established a photographic studio in the shop in Market St. The quality of the surviving photographs suggests that he may have been professionally trained. … Wynne employed colourists and assistant photographers for periods, and was also assisted by at least three of his children whom he trained in photography, but it appears that he took most of the photographs himself, travelling frequently throughout the region.

    He married (4 August 1860) Ellen Semple in the catholic church in Castlebar; she died in 1862 giving birth to their only child, John William. On 2 November 1863 he married Margaret Fox … with whom he had five sons and five daughters. … His youngest son, Richard James, continued the shop and photographic studio in Castlebar. Other sons provided photographic services at Limerick, Tipperary, and Portarlington, and his daughter Mary had a studio in Loughrea, Co. Galway…

    Dating coinkydick: This photograph was taken on 26 October 1871, and Mr Wynne died on 26 October 1893.

    His death notice appeared in the Freeman’s Journal on Saturday, 28 October 1893:

    WYNNE – October 26, 1893, at his residence, Castlebar, Thomas J Wynne, to the inexpressible grief of his sorrowing family and all who knew him, aged 55 years. Merciful Jesus grant eternal rest to his soul. Funeral will leave for the family burial place, the Old Churchyard, at 1.30pm to-morrow (Sunday). High Mass at 10 o’clock on Monday.


    I wonder if he turned this photo into a postcard that he could leave at prominent business to drum up business!

  28. Robinson_Luzo

    His first advertisement was in the Mayo examiner around the time this was taken, offering a "beautifully bound" album of forty prints of the district. He also produced a booklet on the murder of a local man in 1873 illustrated with photos he had taken for one penny.

    Interestingly one of Wynne’s fellow proprietors in Castlebar, publican J.B. Walsh, helped set up the Land League in 1879.

    Several of Wynne’s children did go into the photographic business. If I recall correctly he had a daughter who had a studio in Loughrea in the 1890s who was also a follower of the Gaelic revival. I believe his widow, Margaret carried on the stationary side of the business after his death.

  29. Robinson_Luzo

    [] Actually he included it with an album of Mayo he produced in 1873, his "souvenir scrap album"

  30. Mike Hannon


    The daughter who had the studio in Loughrea was Mary Wynne, who was my Great-grandmother. Hopefully, a photo of her, and my Great-grandfather (Patrick Hannon), should appear below………


  31. National Library of Ireland on The Commons
    National Library of Ireland on The Commons says:

    [] It does indeed appear! Beautiful. I searched in newspapers for your great grandmother’s studio, but I wasn’t able to find anything…

  32. Mike Hannon


    There’s not really much about it either in any of my Great-grandfathers papers, apart from the following…….

    Loughrea will always be memorable to me, for one fact alone; it was here that I met one of the most charming little women in the world, and it was there, on 8th august, 1894, that I married her. Her people lived in Castlebar, where they had a large photographic business; and it was my very good fortune that their daughter, Mary Wynne, came to Loughrea to open a branch there. Soon after my marriage, I resigned from the Midland Great Western Railway, in order to devote the greater part of my time to study, and we settled down at my wife’s home, Clifden House, Loughrea.

  33. National Library of Ireland on The Commons
    National Library of Ireland on The Commons says:

    [] "… to study"? That might tie in with what it says here, that Mary was a member of the Irish Literary Society…

  34. oaktree_brian_1976
    oaktree_brian_1976 says:

    tough looking fellow, that one

  35. Mike Hannon


    I’ve just had a look through an old family album, and I think I’ve found a photo of Thomas and Margaret and their five daughters. It’s not brilliant, as it’s a photo the original print, but it might put a softer slant on the personality…. :-).

  36. La Belle Province
    La Belle Province says:

    [] That’s a lovely photo. Gibson girl quintuplets.

  37. oaktree_brian_1976
    oaktree_brian_1976 says:

    [] Ok, that’s a better picture. Five girls eh? I can only imagine.

  38. Mike Hannon


    If you’ve not seen them, I’ve photographed and uploaded a few more from the album to a set here……

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