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20 March, 2014 

 Shane Mac Thomais

It is with the deepest regret and sense of loss that we record the sudden death of 
Shane Mac Thomais
historian, storyteller ... and friend.

Shane died in Glasnevin Cemetery on Thursday, March 20th, 2014, and there is a poignancy about his dying there, for he loved that cemetery, and had dedicated much of his life to it. Indeed, although only 46, Shane had already spent many years working there. 

Shane was the son of Eamonn Mac Thomais, perhaps Dublin’s greatest social historian. Eamon was fount of knowledge on Dublin of bygone days, and he regaled a generation of – no just Dubliners, but Irish people – with his stories of the people who had lived, loved and fought in Dublin down the years. Eamon used all the media, printed word, radio and television.

But one of his greatest gifts to us was his son Shane. Cast in the same mould as Eamon, Shane, too, was a gifted story teller. To go on one of Shane’s tours of Glasnevin was to experience an event like no other. His irreverent love of his subject, his knowledge of 'his' people, his desire to impart his knowledge, were all apparent. But never far away was his personal, dry humour, a humour that could make his darkest tales bearable, and his jokes hilarious.

Shane’s enthusiasm was catching, and we are sure that he started many a young historian on that journey of love through Irish history that can only enrich. 

 Shane lived for Glasnevin Cemetery. He brought the people buried there back to life, introducing them to new generations from all round the world, bringing fame to the great and the good, the awful and the bad, the heroes and the ogres. He treated them all the same, for they were his friends. He knew them, and he was proud of them. He shared their stories so that we got to know them too.

Shane was no dry academic historian, po-faced and serious. Far from it. He imbued his history with life, and a zest for life. His stories took wings and, even now, are being retold all over the world.

Shane was a good friend to us here in Kilmainham Tales, encouraging us when we were starting out, helping with information and advice, never seeking anything in return.

He was always there for a chat over a cuppa ... or even a pint, the kind of friend we all need but are seldom lucky enough to have.

 s Glasnevin began to actively acknowledge its past and the rich history it contains, as it reached out to attract visitors, Shane was to the forefront of this too as he welcomed new challenges, taking on new responsibilities. He was not a dry academic, but he had learned his craft well at his father’s knee and could hold his own with anyone in his field.

Shane’s love for those buried in Glasnevin extended to the country they had all lived in, and he was passionate nationalist and republican. But he allowed others to have their views on this country too and, while he could argue his points well, listened to theirs’ graciously.

Shane regularly performed miracles - bringing the people of Glasnevin back to life for us all. He has gone now to join them, and their gain is our loss. It would be wonderful to sit at that bar somewhere in Heaven and listen to the conversation between him and those he immortalised as he argues the finer points of Irish history with them.

 But as he is with them, he cannot truly die. He made them live and, through them, he will continue to live - in our hearts, our minds, our memories … and our love.

To his family we extend our deepest sympathies … your loss is unimaginable.

But rest assured that we will never forget him for he made us what we are, and he is too much a part of us to let go. Shane is now a part of that history he so loved, and we will continue to tell others about him when we retell his stories, even though we know he could (and did) tell them better.

Slán abhaile, a chara. Ar dheis Dé go rabh tú, agus I measc na naomh agus laochra na hÉireann go mbeidh tú go síorraí. Codladh sámh I measc do charaid ... tá sé tuillte agat.

Safe home, dear friend. May you be on the right hand of God, among the saints and the heroes of Ireland for ever. Rest well among friends … you’ve earned it.

18 October, 2013

We regret to announce the death of

John Heuston Devlin,
beloved uncle of the founder of Kilmainham Tales Teo. Mícheál Ó Doibhilín
on Friday, 18 October, 2013.
He died shortly before the funeral of Kathleen Price (see below) took place.

Heuston, as he was known to is family, was born on December 30, 1916 and named after ‘the baby of the Revolution’ Sean Heuston.

One of 6 brothers and 1 sister, born into difficult times, Heuston was the final survivor of this family. He leaves behind his wife Mary, son Kevin, daughter Susie and extended family.

Heuston’s long life was spent in hard work, something he never shirked. He worked for most of his life as a cellulose sprayer in conditions that he was lucky to survive - continue a family tradition of polishing. His grandfather was, according to family lore, the first French polisher in Ireland, and his father had worked as French polisher in Harman's the undertakers of Queen Street (now Bourke's, the firm which will undertake his funeral). During the ‘Emergency’ he did his duty and joined the Irish Army, pledging to protect his family and country, returning to civilian life and hard work afterwards.

His most enjoyable period of work came late in life when he became a hospital orderly. He would often say that he loved this work, helping to care for others, feeling he was really contributing to the happiness, comfort and wellbeing of the patients there.

Heuston was a sensitive man, intelligent yet loathe to interfere in the lives of others – but willing to offer advice and support when requested. It was this willingness to hold his counsel until asked that made him such a wonderful friend and valued advisor. He always considered others first, and stood by his friends.

Enjoying an occasional drink, Heuston liked nothing better than to sit over a pint of Guinness in the company of friends. Later his choice was ‘a ball of malt’ (Jameson, of course) but the purpose was the same, to relax in the company of others. For him, alcohol was not an end in itself but a key to friendship and chat.

When Heuston retired he could enjoy gardening and was a keen grower of fuchsia. However, as his wife’s health deteriorated he took on more and more of the household chores and her care as her carer.

In recent years he suffered ill fortune, first a suspected stroke which set him back and later a fall and cracked hip. Both these events sapped his strength but he refused help as he continued to look after his wife Mary and his house.

Gradually his health deteriorated until the inevitable happened and, once more, he entered hospital – this time for the last time. On Friday October 18 he died peacefully in Connolly Hospital, surrounded by his beloved wife Mary, his son Kevin and daughter Mary, and their marriage partners.

His funeral will take place from the Church of the Holy Family, Aughrim Street, on Monday 21 October, after 10.00 am mass to Glasnevin Cemetery.

With his passing we are all poorer. While he, at last, can rest, we must live with the loss of one of those quiet heroes without whom the world as we know it cannot exist. Heuston contributed all he could and asked nothing in return, except that we would emulate him as much as possible. He believed in the good in people and acted accordingly. He was generous with his time, his money … and his love.

To his family, we offer you our condolences. We can only imagine the pain of the loss you feel. For ourselves … it is unbearable.

Ar dheis Dé go rabh a anam, agus i measc na naomh go mbeidh sé go síorraí.
Ní fheicfimíd a leithéid arís.

I nDil Chuimhne

In loving memory of
Máire Beggs,
sister of Kilmainham Tales Teo. founder Mícheál Ó Doibhilín,
who died on Wednesday September 11, 2013 following a short illness bravely born.

Máire leaves behind her husband George and sons Stuart and Alex, and we extend our sympathies to them and also to her sister Caitriona.

Maire was a qualified and life-long Montessori practitioner, having studied in Italy before emigrating to the USA where she spent the greater part of her life. Dedicated to this education system, in recent years, with her husband George, she developed a unique computer program Tashka for use by home schoolers or in the Montessori classroom.

This innovative program allows the student to develop at his or her own pace while ensuring that the full curriculum is not just followed but that progress is recorded. It has been highly praised by all who use it.

With her passing the world is today a poorer place.

Ar dheis De go rabh sí agus guidhimid sólás De ar a clann agus a cáirde.

I nDíl Chuimhne

Kathleen (Catherine) Price

 who died peacefully jn The Mater Hospital on Wednesday 16 October, 2013:  she will be sadly missed by her family, extended family and friends. 

Kathleen was 'aunt' of Kilmainham Tales Teo. founder Mícheál Ó Doibhilín and had spent her life caring for others.

She loved travel, cats and music, and was renowned for her sense of humour!

A true Christian lady, she will be missed by all.

Ar dheis Dé go rabh sí go síorraí

 I nDíl Chuimhne

Death continues to strike at those we know, value and love here in Kilmainham Tales.

It is with great sorrow that we record the death of 
Stanley 'Stan' L. Devlin 
in Australia.

Stan died on November 16, 2013, at the age of 94 in Calvary Hospital after a short illness.

Stan was born in Lismore, New South Wales, in 1919. He served in World War II and soldiered in the Australian Regular Army until 1974, when he retired with the rank of Brigadier. He was awarded the OBE.

He is the direct descendant of Arthur Devlin, first cousin of Anne Devlin. Arthur was deported to Australia in 1805 with Anne's other cousins Michael Dwyer and Hugh 'Vesty' Byrne, and also John Mernagh and Martin Bourke - the so-called Tellicherry Five. They were exiled for their part in Robert Emmet's abortive rising of 1803.

This connection to Ireland's rebel past meant that Stan saw himself as something of a paradox, in that he had accepted British honours while being descended from an Irish patriot and "a number of victims of the British convict system", as he put it.

Stan researched and wrote the magnificent book "Multiple Stains" which gives the history of Arthur Devlin and his descendants in Australia. It is an incredible book, and is forensic in its detail - a credit to an incredible man.

At the time of his death Stan was finalising details of his latest project - a Devlin exhibition and permanent display at the museum in Wagga Wagga, which is where his grandfather had his enormous property. (There is to be a special Devlin display and presentation there sometime later in the year.  It is largely a collection of heirlooms and memorabillia of the Devlin family in Australia, but includes of course a genealogy and information about  Irish ancestors).

Stan's wife Clare predeceased him, but he is survived by his daughter Lesley and son Ken, grand-children, great-grandchildren, their partners, friends and neighbours.

We send our sympathies and condolences to Lesley and Ken and all Stan's relatives and friends. A special word to Stan's wonderful neighbour and friend May Stinear who communicated with us on his behalf over the years. 

Stan has left behind a wonderful body of work which, together with wonderful memories of him, will ensure he will not be forgotten.

Our loss is surely Heaven's gain.

Ar dheis Dé go raibh sé I gcónaí.

Mícheál Ó Doibhilín 

Claude McGowan

"Few people have made such an impression on me as Claude McGowan. 
 I first met him in Kilmainham Gaol some 12 years ago while leading a tour of the Gaol. Claude asked me about Josie McGowan, and I had to profess my ignorance of her.
So, after the tour, I asked him for more information, and such was his quiet and sincere passion that thus began my long search for information, and a desire to see this young girl remembered.

When he invited me to his house to see Josie's photo and medals, I jumped at the opportunity. There, Claude told me Josie's story simply, as much as he knew, and invited me to the unveiling of the headstone he was having erected over her gave.

I was honoured to be there, one of a small band of selected invitees, and to hear the speeches made by family and friends alike. I later wrote the story for 'Sentences', the inhouse magazine I produced for the guides in the Gaol.

Claude's delight when I called up to his house to give him a copy was palpable. 

Over the years, I continued to research Josie and, thanks to Liz Gillis, found a second photo her in the Gaol's archive. Again, Claude was delighted.

I began to give talks on Josie, and Claude was able to attend some. I organised a conference dedicated to her in the Labour History Museum, and spoke in Richmond Barracks where she had been held after the Easter Rising. Claude was there and the pride and he felt was obvious in the firm handshake he gave me afterwards. I told Josie's story at the magnificent Lá na mBan event hosted by Liz Gillis and I was so proud to do so in front of Claude too.

I wrote a book about Josie for an American printer/publisher and met Claude to give him a copy. His hand shook as he took it, and we talked about Josie and her brave brothers Charles and Claude. He gave me a few family photos, which I hope to use in another book on Josie's life.

Claude's last couple of years have been tough. He underwent major surgery, and struggled to recover. If it was hard to see such a big man laid low - a man used to hard work, and not afraid of it - I hesitate to think what his loving children felt. He lost his wife about three years ago, and that blow too, struck him hard. 

But Claude always had a warm welcome for me, and delighted in talking a bout Josie. We discussed plans for an annual commemoration of her to be held at her graveside, but Covid-19 prevented that, but I have managed to remember her there each year none-the-less.

Every time I visit Josie's grave, I cannot fail to remember Claude too, and his determination to have her remembered. his daughter told me recently that he was happy that Josie was being remembered, and i am glad to contribute to that.

But the thought of this wonderful, gentle, sincere man being dead is unbelievable. He will always be part of my story of Josie, so that he too will be remembered for what he has done.

My sympathies to Claude's children and wider family. My loss is great, but yours must be immeasurable. Claude will always be in my thoughts and prayers".

Mícheál Ó Doibhilín

Ar dheis Dé i measc na naoimh agus Laochra na hÉireann go mbeidh sé go síorraí. 

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