Pauline O’Kennedy (b. 1931)
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Pauline O’Kennedy (b. 1931)


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Pauline O’Kennedy grew up at 3, Mountjoy Square in Dublin. She recalls the four generations of her family who lived together in Mountjoy Square, including her maternal Kavanagh grandmother. Her maternal Redden family’s love of horse racing is remembered. Walter Cole is recalled as a most affectionate father, and Pauline remarks on the age difference between him and his children. He spent time in prison and she explains that she has one of his prison mugs. She recalls some square silver buttons which were embellished with a harp which he left to her, and she thinks that these were part of a uniform at one time. Gearóid O’Sullivan and Michael Noyk are recalled as visitors to the house at Mountjoy Square. In the summertime, Walter was insistent that the family would move out of the city and they often stayed at Greystones in Co. Wicklow. Pauline describes the house at Mountjoy Square as a marvellous place in which to grow up, and the glamorous lift and the other attractive features of the house are recalled. Pauline remembers her father’s funeral and the attendance of Éamon de Valera which caused great surprise. Her father and mother are both buried in Glasnevin Cemetery. She explains that she was too young to understand what was happening in the house, in which beautiful furniture and paintings were arranged. She remembers a bureau which was used to sign important papers. Pauline remarks that Michael Collins and Éamon de Valera often stayed at Mountjoy Square; apparently de Valera did not clean his own shoes! The family moved from Mountjoy Square to Palmerston Park after Walter Cole’s death. She remembers her father showing her the stars in the sky at night, and explains that a family tradition held that they left the house on New Year’s Eve and re-entered it early on January 1st. She explains that her sister once had a book of sketches drawn by Walter while in prison. Pauline’s widowed mother Máire married Billy Coyne late in life Although she lived in the house as a child, Pauline explains that she has no recollection of any particularly important events. She recalls the layout of the house, describing the conservatory and the service lift between the kitchen and the breakfast room. She has one sister and three half-brothers, as her father was married firstly to an American woman. She remembers quite well her half-brother Oscar who lived in Killiney. He served on board the Queen Elizabeth. She attended boarding school at the Dominican convent in Wicklow while the boys attended Clongowes Wood. Pauline recalls the times that she spent at home in Mountjoy Square while of school age, and explains that after her schooling she was sent to Paris for a period and she married after she returned home. She has no recollection of her father’s sheltering of the Connolly family in the house in Mountjoy Square after the Rising. The Swanzys also stayed there and she explains that the house was very large. By the time she became aware of the world around her, most of the activities relating to the 1910s and 1920s were long over. It was on her visit to the house many years later that she first saw the basement. As children, she says that she and her sister were not allowed down there, and she describes what she saw on that later visit. She recalls her father’s study on the left-hand side of the front door and also his den on the top floor beside her bedroom. He believed in the importance of education, being well-educated himself and fluent in many languages. Pauline is proud of what her father did for the cause of Irish independence. Her mother seemed to have no interest in these events, she says. She recalls the anger she once experienced when visiting Northern Ireland and considers that this may have been what her father experienced when he came to live in Ireland. Walter’s artistic talent, which still lives on in his descendants, is discussed. Pauline’s daughter is an artist while her sister, Dorothy Walker, was an accomplished art critic. Dorothy was a few years older than Pauline and felt a much stronger animosity towards the English than did her sister. Pauline remembers the poverty in the tenement houses around Mountjoy Square in earlier days. The family left that area when she was a teenager and she recalls feeling happy to do so. She thinks that the order of nuns who lived next door bought the building. Today 3, Mountjoy Square houses the Dublin Adult Learning Centre. Walter Cole’s business involved the importation of fruit, vegetables and flowers for auction in the market. He always had his name written in Irish when advertising his business and was arrested for this practice. Her father’s prison mug is the only memento she has of him, though she has many very happy memories. She recalls a visit to a museum where she saw Arthur Griffith’s spectacles, and remarks that Griffith was a very close friend of her father. Two photographs of Pauline and Dorothy with their father at their holiday home at Kilmacanogue are examined and discussed.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

50.19 MB

Number of files:


Product ID:



Walter L. Cole (Interviewee’s father)

Recorded by:

Maurice O'Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore