Éamonn Mac Thomáis

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Éamonn MacThomáis (13 January 1927–16 August 2002) was an author, broadcaster, historian, Irish Republican, advocate of the Irish Language and lecturer. He presented his own series on Dublin on RTÉ (Irish National Broadcaster) during the 70s and was well known for guided tours and lectures of his beloved Dublin. He is buried in Dublin's Glasnevin Cemetery.[1]


MacThomáis came from a staunch Republican family. He was born Edward Patrick Thomas in the Dublin suburb of Rathmines. His father, a fire-brigade officer, died when Éamonn was five years old and his family moved to Goldenbridge, Inchicore. He left school at 13 to work as delivery boy for White Heather Laundry, learning Dublin neighbourhoods with great thoroughness. He said he found work to help his mother pay the rent. He later worked as a clerk, and was appointed credit controller for an engineering firm.[2] MacThomáis joined the Dublin Brigade of the Irish Republican Army as a young man and was active in the preparations for and prosecution of the 1956-62 border campaign. He was interned in Curragh Camp during the campaign and in December 1961 was sentenced to 4 months imprisonment under the Offences Against the State Act.[2][3]

At the November 1959 Ardfheis he was elected to the Ardchomhairle of Sinn Féin, and edited and contributed to the Sinn Féin newspaper The United Irishman.

He was a close friend of Tomás MacGiolla, and was deeply affected by the 1970 split in Sinn Féin. MacThomáis took the Provisional side, opposing MacGiolla.[4]

He took over as editor of An Phoblacht in 1972. In July 1973, he was arrested and charged with IRA membership at the Special Criminal Court in Dublin.[3] He refused to recognise the court but he gave a lengthy address from the dock. The following month he was sentenced to 15 months imprisonment.[5] Within two months of completing his sentence he was again before the court on the same charge and received a 15-month sentence. Editors of six left-wing and Irish-language journals called for his release, as did a number of writers, and hundreds attended protest meetings - to no avail. He served his full sentence.[3] Tim Pat Coogan who was editor of the Irish Press noted that the charges against MacThomáis were politically motivated to a large degree as his activities were confined strictly to the newspaper An Phoblacht.[6] Under Section 31 of the Broadcasting Act, due to his membership of Sinn Féin in the 1970s he was removed from his position in making some of the RTÉ historical programmes. As a historian he made numerous contributions to various historical publications such as the Dublin Historical Review.[7]

From 1974 he wrote a number of books on old Dublin. They sold well and remained in print for over 20 years.[3] He also started a number of walking tours of Dublin, which proved very popular. He died in 2002.[8]

His son Shane, also a historian, also ran similar walking tours and was resident historian at Glasnevin cemetery before his death in 2014.[9][10][11]


Mac Thomáis's books include:

  • Me Jewel and Darlin Dublin
  • Gur Cake & Coal Blocks, (Dublin: O’Brien Press, 1976) ISBN 9780905140070
  • Down Dublin Streets (1916), (Dublin: Irish Book Bureau, 1965),
  • The Labour and the Royal, (Dublin: O’Brien Press, 1978)
  • Janey Mack Me Shirt is Black, (Dublin: O’Brien Press, 1982)
  • Lady at the Gate, (Dublin: J. Clarke, 1971)

Television Programmes[edit]

  • Hands (RTÉ)
  • Dublin: a Personal View, two six-part series, 1979; 1983 (RTÉ)

Awards and honours[edit]

  • Old Dublin Society Silver Medal (1988)
  • Bank of Ireland Millennium Medal (1989)


  1. ^ "Legendary RTÉ star passes on | Find Articles at BNET". Sunday Mirror. 2002-08-18. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  2. ^ a b "Eamonn Mac Thomais". Ricorso. 2002-08-24. Retrieved 2012-02-18. 
  3. ^ a b c d "Obit: Republican who loved his "darlin Dublin"". Irish Times (Dublin: Irish Times). August 2002. 
  4. ^ The Lost Revolution: The Story of the Official IRA and the Workers’ Party
  5. ^ "Éamonn MacThomáis". An Phoblacht. 2002-08-29. Retrieved 2009-02-18. 
  6. ^ The I.R.A. - Tim Pat Coogan pg422
  7. ^ General Index to Dublin Historical Record Published by the Old Dublin Society, (2007)
  8. ^ "Biography of Éamonn Mac Thomáis" (in Irish). Ainm.ie (Irish biography collection). 
  9. ^ Ciarán Ó Muireadhaigh (2010-04-07). "Glasnevin Cemetery; Who isn’t buried there?". Retrieved 2011-05-13. 
  10. ^ "Glasnevin historian Shane MacThomais dies". Journal.ie. 21 March 2014. 
  11. ^ "Historian Shane MacThomáis dies". RTÉ News. 21 March 2014. 
Media offices
Preceded by
Editor of United Irishman
Succeeded by
Preceded by
Coleman Moynihan
Editor of An Phoblacht
Succeeded by
Deasún Breathnach
Preceded by
Deasún Breathnach
Editor of An Phoblacht
Succeeded by
Gerry Danaher