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Daniel Breen, Acting Curator at Cork Public Museum

Wednesday, 23rd January, 2019 4:35pm

Name and position: Daniel Breen, Acting Curator at Cork Public Museum
Age: 39, sliding into 40.
Lives: Cork city, but originally from Ballincollig
Family: Married to Carola and have a son, Ethan.
Pets: None at the moment.
Favourite thing about Cork: The vibe and character of the city. I love living here.
Least favourite thing about Cork: Why do we need so many doughnut shops?
One thing you’d change about Cork: I’d bring back Sir Henry’s and the Quad Bar.

When you were small, what did you want to be as a grown-up?

An archaeologist in the style of Indiana Jones or, failing that, a professional footballer.

Tell us about your career progression to your role today:

I studied history and archaeology at UCC, graduating in 2001. The following year I graduated with an MA in European Historical Archaeology from the University of Sheffield. As part of that course, I had to complete a four-week work experience placement with a heritage institution/company, so I wrote a letter to the then curator of Cork Public Museum, Stella Cherry. Happily, she approved my placement, and I have worked at the museum ever since. I returned to UCC in 2014 to get an MA in Museum Studies and was appointed Acting Curator following the retirement of Stella Cherry in 2016. For someone who had given no real thought to working in the Irish museum sector, I have been very fortuitous to find a job that combines my love of history and archaeology so well.

What is the most enjoyable aspect of what you do?

Caring for and researching the museum’s wonderfully varied collections is something I feel very privileged to be able to do on a daily basis.

What motivates you?

I have always been self-critical and I find that acts as pretty good motivation.

What advice would you give your 15 year old self?

Don’t worry; it gets way better once you get out of your teens.

If you weren’t in the job you have, what would you be doing?

I think I would have stayed working in commercial archaeology for a few more years. I’d like to think that I would have found my way into a career somewhere in the heritage/culture industry.

What is your greatest life or career achievement to-date?

Being a father.

Who has had the biggest influence on you in your life?

Aside from my parents/siblings, I have met people, at various times in my life, who have had very positive impact on me. From a career point of view, Stella Cherry played a huge part in how I ended up working at Cork Public Museum. Without her encouragement, my career in the museum sector would never have happened.

From a personal point of view, it would have to be my wife Carola. She really does bring order to the chaos. She has been the biggest support in everything I have done and achieved.

What is the life dream now?

Retire at 50 and play music full-time. Well, that is the plan at the moment.

How do you switch off?

Writing music. I’ve been playing in bands since I was 16. Writing and gigging has always been a great release valve for me. I have been lucky enough to have played in some amazing places, in Ireland and abroad, and shared the stage with some real musical heroes of mine. Despite being something I have predominately pursued as a serious hobby, music remains a very important part of my life.

What is your favourite Cork memory?

The night my son was born. I had only been driving a few months, so as my wife was in the house getting ready to go to the hospital, I was busy executing a 28-point turn trying to point the car in the right direction. Early the following morning, when coming home from the hospital, I woke the entire estate trying to get up the hill in third gear!

What is your favourite place in Cork?

I suppose it would have to be Fitzgerald’s Park. It is great to work in such a scenic location.

Do you have a favourite quote or motto?

‘It can always be worse’.

When are you at your happiest?

When I’m home with the family or jamming with the band.

Any regrets?

There are always a few, but in the grand scheme of things life’s been good.

What is your hidden talent?

I can sing pretty well (though I stress that this is just my opinion).

What might we be surprised to know about you?

I think I’ll keep those skeletons locked up.

Anything else you’d like to share with us?

I would like to publicise Cork Public Museum’s latest exhibition, Cork 1918 – Victory, Virus and Votes. This exhibition is a fascinating and sobering look at the events of that tumultuous year and the effect it had on Cork, its people and future history. It runs until the end of this year, so I invite everyone to come along to see it.

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