Lemass, Peter Aloysius (1933–88), priest, broadcaster, and writer, was born 22 June 1933 in Dublin, the youngest of three sons of Peter H. Lemass, dispensary doctor in Rathmines, and Mary J. Lemass (née Neary), both of Dublin. He was educated at Xavier School, Morehampton Road, Dublin, and UCD. He entered Clonliffe College on 6 September 1951, after his first year at UCD, and combined both studies until he graduated BA (1953). He was ordained 26 May 1957. Upon ordination, he served as chaplain to the Irish Sisters of Charity at their Lakelands, Sandymount, and Portland Row convents. In 1964 he was appointed assistant director of the Catholic Social Welfare Bureau. In 1965 he became curate in Inchicore, Dublin, and in 1967 moved to the parish of the Holy Redeemer, Bray, Co. Wicklow; in 1969 he became chaplain to the Brothers of Charity in Terenure, Dublin.
He is best known as one of the original writers and presenters of Radharc, a documentary series on Telefís Éireann. His first programme, an interview with writer Christy Brown (qv), was broadcast 18 October 1962. A well-regarded series, it dealt with social and religious topics and often focused on foreign affairs. The broadcasters, including Fr Joe Dunn (qv) and Fr Desmond Forristal, were Dublin diocesan priests who worked in their spare time and during their holidays. In 1965 Lemass studied educational television in London for five months, and in 1967 travelled to Biafra during the Nigerian civil war. He was also a member of a two-man Irish delegation which attended the first UNESCO youth conference in Grenoble.
A close friend of Dublin archbishop Dermot Ryan (qv), he worked closely with him throughout Ryan's term in office (1972–84). In April 1972 he was appointed information officer in the Dublin Diocesan Press Office. He also trained seminarians at Clonliffe College in the use of news media. In 1976 he served as a temporary editor of the Catholic Standard, until a permanent replacement could be found the following year. In addition to his extensive role in the media, Lemass was an active and tireless advocate of the poor. In 1977 he became the administrator at Our Lady of Lourdes Church in Sean MacDermott St. in Dublin's inner city, where he campaigned avidly, but unsuccessfully, for Pope John Paul II to visit Matt Talbot's (qv) shrine in the street during his visit in 1979. In 1981 he moved to Ballyfermot parish. That year he was considered for the position of auxiliary bishop of Dublin but was not appointed; some believed that this was because of questioning comments he had once made regarding the papal encyclical on birth control, Humanae vitae (1968) (Dunn (1994), 43).
Around 1985 he fulfilled a long-held desire to undertake missionary work in Santiago, Chile, working with the Columban missionaries. Known for his wry sense of humour, he decided to travel there on a banana boat from Cork, rather than by plane, feeling that he needed a long journey to prepare himself for the work ahead. He remained there for two years, but was diagnosed with a brain tumour and returned to Dublin in 1987 for treatment. Throughout his career, he was a regular contributor to the Furrow, including an article on liberation theology; he also wrote Learning to pray: lessons from the masters (1977) and co-wrote a collection of essays on urban renewal, The urban plunge: meeting the challenge of a divided city (1988). He continued making documentaries for Radharc, including two in Cuba which were shown in 1987, and three in Mexico. He died from his brain tumour 22 January 1988 in Nenagh Hospital, Co. Tipperary, and was buried at Deansgrange cemetery, Dublin.