An interview with Dad (from 1965)

photo of East Wing, Kilmainham Jail 1966

We had a lovely evening with some of my oldest friends at the weekend. Sorry, I should rephrase that. I mean I’ve known them for years and years but we’re all still quite young… Anyway, we were talking about the old times, as we do, and we talked about Kilmainham Jail and my father’s role in its restoration. And then young Dave says: “but shur, you know that it’s all on the internet now man” (That man Dave is a fount of knowledge – dates, music, computers, you name it).

But there’s a little film clip in the RTÉ (television) archives of my father Piaras being interviewed by Cathal O’Shannon and he talks about how Kilmainham Jail was being restored by ordinary people on a completely voluntary basis. It gives me a lift every time I see it.  Here’s the link below – but don’t forget to return here for the rest of the story:

Cathal O'Shannon and Piaras F. Mac Lochlainn at Kilmainham Jail, 1965
Cathal O’Shannon and Piaras F. Mac Lochlainn in Kilmainham Jail,  1965

Now, for a long time, I never knew that this clip existed. My father died in 1969, when I was only ten years old. Kilmainham Jail was always a very special place for us growing up, not least because we could see my father’s handiwork there. He was the first keeper of the museum and all the memorabilia of 1916 that was on display in the glass cases (see top photo) had handwritten labels attached, handwritten by Dad.  So there was this part of him still there, long after he had passed on.

But then the OPW did a big job on it, modernising the displays, and doing away with all his handwritten labels. That was quite a shock for us, as you can imagine. The East wing of the Jail was emptied out and new audio visual displays were installed in a more contemporary development in another part of the building. (Now, of course, they’re redeveloping it again for 2016).

Anyway, I was there in the jail/museum, about 1998 and I heard this voice on a television monitor.   “…as a tribute to our glorious dead”, it said – and there was me Dad, in black and white, my Dad who had died thirty years before. I think my heart actually skipped a beat.

Long years have passed since then, I went back many times to see that clip – but now, anyone can see it right here on my blog! (n’fheadar céard a cheapfadh Dad faoi sin – I wonder what Dad would think of that)  And then I had a solo exhibition in the jail in 2005 – but that’s another story, I’ll keep it for another day, perhaps…  but here’s a couple of the works below.

painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn in Kilmainham Gaol
Fágadh iad in Eachdhroim
painting by Eoin Mac Lochlainn in Kilmainham Jail
ó nach labhrann lucht na gaoise, labhraimse


Your comments are always welcome. Just click on the little brown speech bubble up at the top right of this blog and put your comment there.  There’s more about my exhibition in Kilmainham on my website at:

Slán go fóill, eoin




  1. Eoin, what a wonderful find and such a beautiful interview with your Dad. So happy for you that you have accessed this. Comhghairdeas ó Eileen & Tony

    Liked by 1 person

  2. I’m stunned. You must be extremely proud of your father’s work, and I’m certain he would be proud of your own. It was an emotional experience for me the first time I walked into Kilmainham; I can’t possibly imagine what it was like for you. Brilliant, and touching.

    Liked by 1 person

  3. What a story, Eoin! And to see your dad on film after all those years. I hadn’t realized the depth of your connection to this prison, am now beginning to understand. I watched the clip, your dad seemed a lovely softspoken, humble sort of person. But with a good strong will for getting the job done.
    The doing away with the handwritten labels was so shocking to me. How could they! The labour of love it constituted, everything contained in the immediacy of the written letters.
    For a long time I was fascinated with handwritten apothecary labels and the like, and imitated them sometimes when labelling my own things. There was something magical about the browning paper of the label, the dark penscript and the occasional splash of red in a line or stamp. thanks for sharing this , Sarah
    you can see mine on some watercolour paints I reconstitute from partially dried out tubes here;

    Liked by 1 person

    • Thank you Sarah, I just looked at your post and I thought that it was great what you did. Very practical and so cool! (maybe that’s not the right word to use 🙂 ) But thank you also for your comment about my father. I thought that I’d start the year by featuring him because his influence has stayed with me all my life, even though he died so young. Keep well, eoin


  4. This touched me deeply; I would like to re-blog the post, but I feel it only proper to ask for your permission beforehand. (My father’s birthday was yesterday, and he would have loved this.) If you’re uncomfortable with my doing so, I completely understand. Best wishes.


  5. Eoin that is lovely. I did take Aunt Charlotte to see it on her last visit. She was fascinated to hear her brother’s voice. I remember my uncle very well. Such a gentle man. I am so glad this clip is available to so many now.


    • Thanks Niamh. Very nice to hear from you – and very nice to hear your memories of my father/ your uncle. Isn’t it so sad that our fathers weren’t around as we were growing up, we really missed out. Thanks again, eoin


  6. Eoin, that was a great find, I haven’t seen that video for years. Looking at it now, I think our brother Piaras most closely resembles Dad in appearance, though I could be wrong. His frame and movements remind me more of our brother Páraic, however. Finally, I was surprised by the accent, there seems to be a country ‘burr’ to his pronunciation even though he grew up on the streets of Dublin and went to Westland Row CBS. Could he have tried to imitate colleagues in the Civil Service, I wonder, or is it just an artefact of the tape recording, which is after all 50 years old now.


    • It’s strange to hear that accent alright. But I think that it’s just an old fashioned accent, one we don’t hear anymore. Do accents change? Do old ones disappear and new ones develop? Well, I reckon that must be true alright. That ‘Dart’ accent only developed in the last 20 or 30 years. And what about the Jedward accent? Would you agree?


  7. Well, I do agree that accents change constantly, but if you remember the popular recordings of schoolchildren telling stories from the Bible, ‘Give up your Ould Sins,’ they were children from inner-city schools in the 1940s or 1950s and had pronounced Dublin accents or ‘street’ accents, so I would have assumed Dad spoke like that, at least when he was growing up.

    I am perhaps not allowing for the fact that his parents expected him to better himself, which probably helped him win scholarships at school and enter the Civil Service, where he probably worked on his accent to fit in better with colleagues, especially his seniors. So, by the time we hear him in 1965, he has what is probably a more ‘educated’ Dublin accent.

    I know from my own experience that, while I have a Dublin accent, it is not very pronounced and people have often asked me if I was from the country. Which used to surprise me until I got used to it and put it down to the fact that we grew up speaking Irish. I was also told, a long time ago, by people with particularly strong Dublin accents, that I sounded like I had a university accent, whatever that is. I did go to college alright, but I never acquired a recognisably ‘educated’ accent; I am still close to street, even with the country burr, if that is what it is.


  8. For some reason I wasn’t able to get the link to work after trying a few times but I very much enjoyed your blog Eoin and can only imagine how hearing your father’s voice must have felt. What a contribution he made.


    • Hi Christine, I’m sorry about that. Have you tried copying and pasting the link into your browser? I haven’t heard that anyone else had a problem with it. I’d love you to hear it – it really is a voice from another time. He had a Dublin accent but not the type one hears these days…


  9. Hi Eoin,
    D’éist mé leis an agallamh faoi dheireadh! An mhaith! Bhí iontas orm go raibh blas BÁC ag do dheaid. Níl fhios agam cén fáth. Rinne mé dearmad gur dub a bhí ann! Bhí sé an-suimiúil é a chloisteáil agus na fir a fheiceáil ag obair. Ba mhór an tionscnamh dóibh é. Fair play dó. Bhí an toitín sa láimh iontach!
    Do shean chara!

    Liked by 1 person

  10. Hello Eoin,
    We had the pleasure of seeing the video when we visited Kilmainham Jail last year. While some of it was under construction, what we were able to see was a very emotional experience. I can’t imagine what it must have been for you. Thank you for suggesting we visit the jail.

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello again Jacques, nice to hear from you. Well, they’re still working on the jail, trying to get it finished for the 100th anniversary of the Easter Rising, but even with the help of ‘contractors’, they mightn’t get it done on time…


  11. It’s nice to see all those comments about the gaol. I myself was one of the original volunteers at the very beginning in the summer of 1960. I was only 16 (71 now) at the time and worked there for a number of years. I have many happy memories of the place. Recently I saw an appeal for former volunteers to come forward and I have made myself known to the committee and hope to hear from them soon.
    I suppose there are not a lot of the original crew left as I and a friend must have been the youngest in the place. Sadly I only found out that my friend (Noel Cullen) passed away a couple of years ago. Alan Byrne

    Liked by 1 person

    • Hello Alan, lovely to hear from you. You started volunteering there in 1960 so I’m presuming that you knew my father (who died in 1969) ? But my sister Máire Nic Lochlainn volunteered there too as a tour guide, she would’ve been in her early twenties at the time… Perhaps you knew her? Thanks very much for getting in touch. All the best, eoin


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