Marc McMenamin

Posted by Sue Leonard on Thursday 10th January 2019

Marc has always had a passion for history, and it was fuelled by a wonderful history teacher in Donegal.

“I remember reading history books instead of doing my homework,” he says. “Research became an obsession to me.”

Marc became a teacher at a difficult time, and whilst he was between contracts at various Dublin schools he did some freelance journalism, for local papers and the Irish Times Education section.

In 2013, he pitched his first, of many ideas to RTE Radio’s Doc on One.

“Called Good Cop, Bad Cop, it was about Donegal man Peter Daly.”

His debut started life as a documentary. About Richard Hayes, a Dublin Librarian who worked as a code breaker during the emergency, it stemmed from Marc’s fascination with the difficulties the Irish government faced over neutrality.

“I was fascinated by the famous Donegal corridor, where planes took off and flying boats passed over in contravention of neutrality. That led me to Hayes.”


Who is Marc McMenamin?

Date of birth: 1986, in Ballyshannon, County Donegal.

Education:  Galway University: English and History. Masters on the Arms Trial.

Home:  Kilmainham, Dublin.

Family: Girlfriend, Madeleine, a doctor in Holles Street. Parents, and a brother. “And I’m close to my cousins. Jonathan, a documentary producer, was like an older brother.”

The Day Job: Teacher of History, English, and Politics and Society, in Edenderry.

In Another Life: Film producer and director.

Favourite Writers: Diarmuid Ferriter; Ernest Hemingway; James Joyce; William Butler Yeats; Seamus Heeney; TS Eliot; Ezra Pound.

Second Book: “It’s about the golden age of the GAA, set in the seventies and eighties.”

Top Tip: “The most important thing is having the idea and getting it started. Get it on the page and make it flow. You can sort the form out afterwards.”

Twitter: @Marcmcmenamin.


The Debut: Codebreaker. Gill Books: €16.99 Kindle: €8.25. 

This fascinating account of the wartime German network of spies in Ireland, focuses on Hermann Görtz, and shows how Richard Hayes, a gifted polymath and cryptographer managed to crack a code which helped to turn the course of the war.

“People did remarkable, selfless things for this country. In helping defeat Nazism, Hayes should be honoured by the state.”

The Verdict: A massive accomplishment. McMenamin has uncovered a side of Irish history which has been sadly neglected.


Published in The Irish Examiner on  5th January.

© Sue Leonard. 2019.



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