Taking Liberties

Published in 20th-century / Contemporary History, General, Issue 2 (March/April 2013), Letters, Volume 21

Taking Liberties 1Sir—A neighbour, a good friend of mine, called into me the other day to tell me that there is a photo of my mother and father in the latest edition of History Ireland, which I might like to see. And yes, indeed, I was very interested in looking at the excellent photograph of Elgie Gillespie and others on the steps of Marsh’s Library. There was my father, G.A. Hayes McCoy, in the light-coloured jacket, smiling out at me from the back row on the extreme right. But unfortunately your researcher has got it hopelessly wrong when it comes to naming the lady standing to the right of my father. She is not my mother, as the caption declares. My mother does not appear anywhere in the photograph. [Fair cop! She is in fact Vera Murtagh of 66 The Coombe, sister of Mary, sitting directly in front of her in the second row—Ed.]

But what does appear—and my eye spotted it immediately because I went looking for it—is Breandán Ó Ríordáin’s cigarette holder. For those of your readers who, like me, worked under Breandán in the excavations at High Street and Winetavern Street, that cigarette holder was an inseparable part of the Breandán image and his trademark. And if you look very carefully between Breandán’s feet in the photograph you will find his cigarette holder carefully placed on the step while the photograph was being taken.—Yours etc.,
ROBERT HAYES-McCOY
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