Fionnula MacLiam is one of Cathal MacLiam’s two daughters. She and her younger sister Beibhin and brothers Egon, Conor and Killian were children when Desmond Greaves used visit their home in Dublin in the 1970s when he was doing research for his biography of Liam Mellows.
She sent the following childhood memories to A.Coughlan in March 2021
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Obviously, I remember the daily bar of chocolate which he gave us in Finglas and which led to his ‘Onkel Kokolade’ nickname. I remember him getting us to look up at the night sky and pointing out various constellations to us; and his persuading Cathal and Helga that we’d benefit by exposure to opera. “Carmen” it was that he took us to in the Gaiety, and we were much impressed!
His emphatic style of speaking with the adults was a bit frightening to a small child; it sounded sometimes to us as if they were fighting.
His cycling shorts were also impressive, which he wore much of the time. I don’t think I’d ever seen an adult in shorts before other than Cathal , but that was only on beaches. I also remember him talking about Youth Hostels, which he used regularly stay in when cycling around Ireland
He gave me a lavender plant for the back garden at 24 Belgrave Road, Rathmines, to instill a regard for botany. That didn’t really sink in till I had a garden of my own, although I always had house plants. I think he might have given Egon or Conor a plant too; I’m not sure. He definitely contributed the peony rose there.
Of course as I became a teen, my interests were elsewhere…
And how could I have forgotten the food he would sometimes do, to help out Helga!
Totally exotic! Devilled kidneys!