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This interview is taken from PN Review 242, Volume 44 Number 6, July - August 2018.

Thomas Kinsella

An Interview with Thomas Kinsella
August – September 2017
Adam Hanna
This interview was conducted over two meetings. I first spoke to Mr Kinsella in his study in Dublin on 17 August 2017 and sent him my interview notes shortly afterwards. This is a transcript of his revised answers, which we recorded on 25 September. I am very grateful to Mr Kinsella for taking the time to meet me, and to Gerald Dawe and Sara O’Malley for facilitating this meeting.


Could you tell me about your time in the Civil Service?

My career in the Civil Service began in 1946 shortly after leaving secondary school. There was a false start in the university, in science. This lasted only a little while. At the moment of indecision I was informed that I had been successful in a Civil Service exam for Junior Executive. I had actually forgotten I had taken the exam – I had taken it very casually. I was offered a place on the Department of Lands – the Congested Districts Board – and worked there for some years. The work was interesting, dealing with the old Ascendancy estates, and arranging for the transfer of ownership from the – usually non-resident – landlords to the real owners of the estates: the residents who had been there for generations.

Early in the 1950s I moved as Junior Administrative Officer to the Department of Finance, firstly in the Exchange Control section, dealing with international currency matters. It is there I met the two young Germans in ‘Nightwalker’. Later, in the ordinary course of promotion, I worked as personal secretary to ...

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