Pat Murphy took this photo on his iPhone 12 at a man-made lake beside Reynella House, between Delvin and Turin.

Photo exhibition to raise funds for Midland Simon

The midland branch of the Simon Community, the long-established charity which helps homeless people, will be the beneficiary of a fundraising photo exhibition that has been inspired by the success of a locally-run Facebook page.

Delvin man Pat Murphy is the admin of the ‘Westmeath Photos’ Facebook page, which he started in March 2020 as a distraction from the Covid-19 outbreak. The page now has around 6,000 followers, including people from 80 countries.

Now, Pat hopes to build on the success of the page to help some of the most vulnerable people in the midlands.

Local social media users will remember that Esquires Café at Harbour Place Shopping Centre, Mullingar ran a photography competition during the Covid lockdown. "Four of the top photos turned out to be by members of our Facebook page," Pat said. "So, I decided to do something similar, but to run it on a charity basis.

"I put it out there for members of the page to send their favourite photos out of a pick of about 5,000, one entry per photographer. Everybody voted on a shortlist of about 30 photos, and from there we picked 12."

The final 12 photos – inspired by the ‘twelve days of Christmas’ – will be featured in the exhibition at Esquires Café until January 6, by which time the winner will be chosen by the judge, local videographer and media personality Sarah Jane Foster.

"I know [Mullingar charity worker] Brian Fagan from my school days. We did our Leaving Cert together, so I asked him if he wanted to do this for Midland Simon," said Pat.

Collection boxes will be made available for people to donate to the cause when they stop to view the photos. Details for the individual photographers will also be provided, if people would like to buy prints.

The exhibition launches this Tuesday (December 21) at 1pm at Esquires, and all are welcome to attend.

One of Pat’s own photos is among the exhibits. Pat has been interested in photography since he was 10 years of age, and as it turns out, used to take photos for the Westmeath Examiner in the late 1970s and early 1980s.

He remembers having two pages of photographs published in the Examiner marking the centenary of the Church of the Assumption, Delvin. Pat’s photo for the exhibition was taken on his iPhone 12 at a man-made lake beside Reynella House, between Delvin and Turin.