Rathlin Through the Lens

Accessible Heritage Guide – audio format
23rd July 2019
Flowerfield and Ballymoney Writers take inspiration from the Sam Henry Collection
29th July 2019

Rathlin Through the Lens

Project Attributes


Sam Henry


Coleraine Museum


29th July 2019

Causeway Coast and Glens Museum Services have been working with residents of Rathlin Island on a project exploring the Sam Henry Collection.

Sam Henry (1878 – 1952) from Coleraine, worked as a Pensions and Excise Officer, but was also an avid folklorist, historian, photographer, ornithologist, naturalist, genealogist and musician. Through his work he formed relationships with an older generation and recorded aspects of their lives that are now all but forgotten. “In my contact with the old, who have all now passed away,” he wrote, “I had the rare privilege of sharing their folk lore and their old songs.” Sam is perhaps best known for his ‘Songs of the People’ series which ran in the Northern Constitution between 1923 and 1939. It published songs know, played and sung by people across Northern Ireland.
Sam bought his first camera in 1906. He visited Rathlin several times and took some striking photographs. He spoke to many islanders while he was there and collected their stories, folklore and songs. A group of present day islanders got hands-on access to Sam Henry’s archive and looked through his photographs, slides and notes. The islanders have been able to put names to faces in photographs and share some of the stories of their lives.
On 21st September 2017 the Rathlin Islanders launched their slideshow of Sam’s photographs in the Manor House on Rathlin Island, along with an accompanying booklet of the photographs. The Rathlin Choir and a piper sang and piped some of the wonderful songs from Sam Henry’s collection. This was enjoyed greatly by everyone attending the launch including Sam Henry’s grandson, Gordon Craig, who kindly donated the collection to Coleraine Museum.
The slideshow will be available in the Manor House on Rathlin Island and will feature in an exhibition in November this year in Coleraine Museum at Coleraine Town Hall.
This project is part of a wider programme Sam Henry: Connecting with the Past, Collecting for the Future, funded by the Esmee Fairbairn Collections Fund and administrated by the Museums Association.

To view the booklet click here.