Frank Gaynor


This is an exhibit of Frank Gaynor's life stories, documents and photos. Frank was born in 1941 and grew up on a farm in Clondaliever in Co. Westmeath. His stories provide detailed descriptions of rural Irish farm life in the 1940's and 50's. He attended St Finians College in Mullingar for his secondary educaton where he boarded. He shares his memories of boarding school life and he remembers missing the rural community in which he had spent his childhood.

In 1963 Frank decided to volunteer to teach in Irish missionary schools with the Kiltegan fathers. He travelled to Kenya with these missons and his stories provide a wonderful insight into Kenya at this time of its early independence.

Following his time teaching in Kenya, Frank returned to Ireland and in 1965 he went to university in Galway to train to be a teacher. Upon completion of his training Frank returned to Africa to teach again. His career with the Kiltegan missions, and later working for Trocaire, brought Frank to many developing countries around the world including Rwanda, Malawi, South Africa, Kosovo and the Balkans. His stories provide fascinating accounts of these countries and insights into the development work undertaken by Frank and his colleagues there.


McTiernan, K. & O'Donnell, D. (2012) Life Histories Archive,


Childhood and Early Life

In the stories exhibited in this section Frank describes his childhood and early life experiences. Frank grew up on a farm in Clondaliever in Co. Westmeath. He shares his memories of farm life in the 1940's and 50's with particularly vivid descriptions of his father. Frank attended Johnstown primary school and he recalls his happy memories of his early school life.

Adolescence and Early Adulthood

The stories, documents and images represented in this section of the exhibit are concerned with the adolescence and early adulthood of Frank. In these stories Frank recalls his experiences as a teenager in St Finian's boarding school in Mullingar and later in the Seminary college in Maynooth. Frank explains that after attaining a Bachelor of Arts Degree from Maynooth he decided that he no longer wished to be come a priest. However, in 1963 he volunteered to travel to Kenya to teach with the Kiltegan missions there. His accounts of Kenya at this time are truly fascinating as he observed the transition from colonialism to independence.

Work and Employment

This section of the exhibit showcases the images, documents and life stories of Frank which relate his experiences of working in education and development in Africa and Balkan Europe. He recalls with vivid detail the various countries that he lived and worked in over the years. His accounts provide a deep reflection upon these countries and the development work he, and his colleagues in Trocaire, undertook.


The stories exhibited in this section provide an account of Frank's transition into retirement. He notes that he made this transition with relative ease as he phased himself out of work gradually by moving from full time to part time and then retirement. He also notes that he cultivated many hobbies and interests which continue to consume him in this phase of his life. These interests include golf, as well as, the hurling team of his home town, Clondaliever.


This section of the exhibit displays a reflective piece by Frank. He describes suffering stroke and the impact this has had on his life. He notes how this event caused him to recognise the vulnerability of his mind, most particularly his memory. This recognition prompted him to record his varied and fascinating life experiences in this memoir.