Uinseann Ó Rathaille Mac Eoin was a veteran republican, architect, planner, journalist, and campaigner for the conservation of Georgian built heritage. His collection consists of 102 audio cassette recordings of interviews he conducted from the late 1970s until the early 1990s with veteran Irish republicans about their activities from the 1920s to the 1940s. It also includes nine boxes containing the written and photographic material associated with his three historical publications: ‘Survivors’ (1980) which documents the story of the struggle for Irish independence as told through interviews with veteran republicans; ‘Harry’ (1985) the biography of IRA man Harry White; and ‘The IRA in the Twilight Years 1923-1948’ (1997), which tells the story of the IRA between the period 1923-1948, also drawing heavily on the recorded first-hand testimony of those who lived it.
The recordings were not undertaken with the primary intention of making them available for listening. Instead they were to ensure that the nuances of history and memory were accurately recorded and could be reflected in Mac Eoin’s publications. While there are differences between the audio material and what has been represented in the text of the associated books, Mac Eoin remained largely loyal to their words. However, the collection does provide tremendous richness and depth which is not always borne out in the books. Although not an oral historian, Mac Eoin showed a remarkable acumen with regard to the careful and prepared exploration of memory that characterises the discipline. The recording quality are in the main acceptable with some inevitable reductions in quality, given the time, nature of recording device and lack of training on the part of the collector. In all, it is a remarkable body of memory, recorded from many people whose stories otherwise would have been lost.
PRCN-0080 Uinseann Mac Eoin’s private collection: Material relating to the career of Uinseann Mac Eoin and his research for his publications ‘Survivors’, ‘Harry’ and ‘The IRA in the Twilight Years’. The three main series of files in this collection relate to the three publications:
Harry: Series consisting of five sub-series all related to the 1985 book ‘Harry,’ the story of Harry White as related to Uinseann Mac Eoin. First series contain various drafts and printed copies of the book, as well as research notes; the second series consists of press cuttings from the research stage of the book, as well as reviews, advertisements, and other articles about the publication of the book; the third series contains details of correspondence sent and received by Uinseann Mac Eoin in relation to the book, including research, advertising, and publication; the fourth series contains a small collection of photographs, mainly related to places mentioned in the book; the fifth series consists of miscellaneous material related to the research and publication of the book.
Survivors: Material relating to Uinseann Mac Eoin’s research for, and publication of, ‘Survivors’. ‘Survivors’ was originally published in 1980 and reprinted three times. A second edition was published in 1987 and Mac Eoin appears to have worked on a third edition c.2000 which was never completed or published. Mac Eoin’s interviews with Republican veterans formed the basis of each chapter in ‘Survivors’; these interviews are held under the references UMCE-S-A-01 to UMCE-S-A-50.
The IRA in the Twilight Years 1923-1948: This book was published under the title ‘The IRA in the Twilight Years 1923-1948’ but Mac Eoin originally referred to it as ‘Curragh Testimony’ or ‘Curragh Testimonies’ and this working title frequently appears in his research notes.
This series is arranged in the same format as the eventual publication. It is organised by research relating to his distillations from other authors, research for his chronology, research and correspondence with veterans, material relating to the appendices and finally folders of general research and correspondence relating to the book, including correspondence regarding publishing and distribution of the book and photographs for the book.
Mac Eoin’s interviews with various Republican veterans formed the basis of several of the chapters in ‘The IRA in the Twilight Years 1923-1948’; these interviews are held under the references UMCE-T-A-01 to UMCE-T-A-37.
UMCE – The Interviews: These were collected by Uinseann Mac Eoin in the course of his research for publications titled ‘Survivors,’ ‘Harry’ and ‘The IRA in the Twilight Years 1923-1948’.
UMCE-H: This series contains fifteen cassettes containing almost twenty hours of audio recorded as part of Mac Eoin’s research for the book ‘Harry’. Nine of these cassettes contained interviews recorded with Harry White alone. A further eight interviewees are included on other cassettes; including Paddy Brown, Leo Duignan, Jack Lynch, Pat Shannon, Liam Burke, May White, Judith Duffy and Albert Price. All of the latter reflect on the experience of Harry White or the period of activism to which he was associated (1930s and 1940s).
UMCE-S: This series contains fifty cassettes containing more than forty-five hours of audio recorded as part of Mac Eoin’s research for the book ‘Survivors’. Interviewees include Frank Edwards, Peadar O’Donnell, Máire Comerford, John Swift, Tomás Ó Maoileóin, Seán MacBride, Pax Ó Faóiláin. Eithne Coyle, Neil Gillespie, Patsy O’Hagan, James McElduff, Nora Connolly O’Brien, Dan Gleeson, Connie Neenan, Tom Maguire, Peter Carleton, John Harrington, Tony Woods, Sheila Humphries, May Dálaigh and John Joe Sheehy.
UMCE-T: This series contains thirty-seven cassettes containing almost forty-six hours of audio recorded as part of Mac Eoin’s research for the book ‘The IRA in the Twilight Years 1923-1948’. Interviewees include Seamus Ó Mongáin, Christy Quearney, Dan Keating, Tomo Costello, Pierce Fennell, Liam Burke, Eamon Ó Cianáin, Margaret O’Brien (Casey), Bertie McCormack, Seán Cronin, Jim Savage, Packie Joe Dolan, John L. McCormack, Mick O’Sullivan, Seán O’Neill, Seán Talty, Jimmy Wynne, Barney O’Callaghan, Tomás Ó Fearghail, Paddy Murphy, Liam Brady, Tony McInerney, Mattie O’Neill, Dick Bell, Bob Clements, Mick McCarthy, Seamus Roynane, George Molloy, Derry (Jeremiah) Kelleher, the Fleming Brothers, Willie John McGarry with others, Seamus Ó Goilidhe, Mick Fitzgibbon, Dan Gleeson, Kevin Boland, Tom Doran and Archie Armstrong.
The Interview Catalogue is time coded and divided according to themes discussed, in order to orientate users to the subjects they wish to explore. The catalogue entries should not be used as a reference and users are encouraged to listen to the relevant section in order to clarify exactly what is said by the interviewee or interviewer. Military Archive (MA) Notes are provided throughout, as are links which elaborate or clarify certain references within the interview that are not clarified within the discussion.
Once a researcher is actively searching through the interviews, the history/biography of most of the interviewees is included in the results entries, which will give you further detail about the individuals involved.