Wednesday, March 08, 2017


Dr Máire Kennedy
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This is how the general public most often sees Máire Kennedy, introducing speakers at the local or family history days, or at the many other seminars and talks, in the Dublin City Library and Archive conference room in Pearse Street. And that's her office on the screen, by the way.

But that is only the tip of the iceberg. The rest of the day job out of the public gaze keeps her more than busy. You only have to check out how often she pops up in the acknowledgement pages of most of the books dealing with the history of the city published over the years.

She always has a welcome for researchers be they professionals or amateur dabblers like myself. And she is an entrepreneur in her own right; she takes risks. I am the living proof of that.

Máire doing the techie stuff

My first contact with Máire was when I walked in off the street and offered to do a talk on the history of Ballybrack. Four hundred years in forty five minutes.

I cconfidently explained that I had done a series of talks on this subject more than twenty years previously with slides and panels. "We don't do slides and there is nowhere to put panels" she replied. So what was I expected to do? Powerpoint! And what is that exactly?

So that was my abrupt and unwelcome introduction to Powerpoint.

But Máire took me up on my offer and I ended up using Powerpoint slides, interactive online maps and a blast of sound, and all was well.

Since then I have offered her four more talks and she took them all. To be fair to myself, I put a lot of work into them and I think I had a good product when it came time to deliver them.

Unshockable, almost

But I didn't have to offer my last and sixth talk, I was invited to do it. I had finally arrived, and that talk turned out to be the most significant and the most emotional to date.

It was on the artist and cartoonist Gordon Brewster who had died in my mother's shop in 1946. Following his death, his already estranged wife took his children back to England with her.

Now, nearly seventy years later, his four grandchildren and spouses, descendants and partners, numbering twenty in all, came over from England for the talk. Their ages ranged from the mature down to a five year old who ended up being the only contributor to the Q&A. You couldn't make it up.

Máire even once deputised me, as they say in the cowboy films, to front for the Library and Archive in an interview on Raidió na Life.

Máire is leaving at the end of the month and with her departure I feel I'm losing a mentor and co-conspirator, but I hope I can keep her as a friend.

Go maire tú do scor.

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