Can you identify Donegal people in photos taken over the last century?

Cooper collection

Adrian Beattie, Alley Theatre, Heather Stanley PRONI and Joy Carey, PRONI who are looking to find out who the people are in the Cooper collection currently on display at Strabane Library.

By Cronan Scanlon
HELP is being sought to identify hundreds of Donegal people who had their portraits taken at the famous Cooper Photographic Studio in Strabane over a century ago.

Hundreds of photos from the world renowned Cooper Collection will be on display in Strabane Library over the next month and the Public Records Office NI (PRONI) is appealing for help in identifying those captured on camera.


PRONI holds over 70,000 original glass plate negatives originating from the Cooper Studio, dating from between 1901 to 1960.

From his studio on Railway Street, Herbert Cooper built up a huge collection of portrait photos of people from across Donegal, Tyrone and Derry, as well as an impressive body of recorded film.

Many of these pictures were sent to family and friends around the world.
In the 1970’s PRONI took custody of the Cooper Collection and has been trying to identify and catalogue many of the images since.

Since last week, and up until July 1, countless images from the Cooper Collection will be on display at Strabane Library.

Encouraging people to come along and help identify those pictured, PRONI’s Head of Collections, Heather Stanley said: “Generations of people from Strabane and Donegal beat a path to Cooper’s studio. Brides came for wedding photographs. Parents brought their children. Young men and women sat for portraits as they set out on life’s adventures.

“The Cooper images held by PRONI show us the changes in fashions and family celebrations over 60 years. These pictures were precious to the local people who commissioned them and PRONI is delighted to bring them back home to Strabane for local people to enjoy once again. We would love to hear from anyone who had their portrait taken by Cooper or who recognises the people in the photographs.”

To complement the exhibition, on Tuesday week, June 10, from 7 pm to 8pm, two presentations will be given during the evening followed by a question and answer session.


There are also hundreds more Cooper portrait photos to look through on

If you can recognise anyone, please contact PRONI in Belfast by email or telephone 048 90 534800.

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