Seán Mac Eoin
|Minister for Defence|
2 June 1954 –20 March 1957
|Taoiseach||John A. Costello|
|Preceded by||Oscar Traynor|
|Succeeded by||Kevin Boland|
7 March 1951 –13 June 1951
|Taoiseach||John A. Costello|
|Preceded by||Thomas F. O'Higgins|
|Succeeded by||Oscar Traynor|
|Minister for Justice|
18 February 1948 –7 March 1951
|Taoiseach||John A. Costello|
|Preceded by||Gerald Boland|
|Succeeded by||Daniel Morrissey|
|Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces|
4 February 1929 –21 October 1929
|Preceded by||Daniel Hogan|
|Succeeded by||Joseph Sweeney|
July 1948 – April 1965
February 1932 – July 1937
May 1921 – August 1923
July 1937 – July 1948
June 1929 – February 1932
John Joseph McKeon
30 September 1893
Ballinalee, County Longford, Ireland
|Died||7 July 1973 79) (aged|
|Political party||Fine Gael|
(m. 1922; d. 1973)
|Allegiance|| Irish Republican Brotherhood |
Irish Republican Army
Irish Free State Army
|Battles/wars|| Irish War of Independence |
Irish Civil War
Seán Mac Eoin (30 September 1893 – 7 July 1973) was an Irish Fine Gael politician and soldier who served as Minister for Defence briefly in 1951 and from 1954 to 1957, Minister for Justice from 1948 to 1951, and Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces from February to October 1929. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1921 to 1923, 1929 to 1957, and 1961 to 1965.
He was commonly referred to as the "Blacksmith of Ballinalee".
Seán Mac Eoin was born John Joseph McKeon on 30 September 1893 at Bunlahy, Granard, County Longford, the eldest son of Andrew McKeon and Catherine Treacy. After a national school education, he trained as a blacksmith at his father's forge and, on his father's death in February 1913, he took over the running of the forge and the maintenance of the McKeon family. He moved to Kilinshley in the Ballinalee district of County Longford to set up a new forge.
He had joined the United Irish League in 1908. Mac Eoin's Irish nationalist activities began in earnest in 1913, when he joined the Clonbroney Company of the Irish Volunteers. Late that year he was sworn into the Irish Republican Brotherhood and joined the Granard circle of the organization.
He came to prominence in the War of Independence as leader of an Irish Republican Army (IRA) 'flying column'. In November 1920, he led the Longford brigade in attacking Crown forces in Granard during one of the periodic government reprisals, forcing them to retreat to their barracks. On 31 October, Inspector Philip St John Howlett Kelleher of the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) was shot dead in Kiernan's Greville Arms Hotel in Granard. Members of the British Auxiliary Division set fire to parts of the town. The next day, Mac Eoin held the village of Ballinalee situated on the Longford Road between Longford and Granard. They stood against superior British forces, forcing them to retreat and abandon their ammunition. In a separate attack on 8 November, Mac Eoin led his men against the RIC at Ballinalee. An eighteen-year-old Constable Taylor was killed. Constable E Shateford and two others were wounded. [ citation needed ]The story was that the small garrison sang "God Save the King" as they took up positions to return fire.
On the afternoon of 7 January 1921, a joint Royal Irish Constabulary and British Army patrol consisting of ten policemen led by an Inspector, with a security detachment of nine soldiers, appeared on Anne Martin's street. Mac Eoin's own testimony at his trial (which was not contested by any parties present) states that:- "I was at the table writing when I was informed of the advance of the party. My account books were left in this house for safety. I was in partial uniform, wearing Sam Browne belt and revolver with two Mills No. 4 bombs in my pocket. Owing to some females being in the house, I had to get out as I could not endanger them by putting up a defence in the house, and as this Officer and Police Force had already signified to my sister and mother their intention to shoot me on sight, I decided to give them a run for their money. I stepped out on the street, about three paces directly in front of the oncoming force, and opened fire with my revolver. The leading file fell, and then the second file in the gateway brought their rifles to the ready. I then threw a bomb, and jumped back behind the porch to let it burst. When it had burst and the smoke had lifted, I saw that the whole force had cleared away, save the officer who was dead or dying on the street."The casualties from this incident were District Inspector Thomas McGrath killed, and a police constable wounded.
On 2 February 1921, the Longford IRA ambushed a force of the Auxiliaries on the road at Clonfin, using a mine it had planted. Two lorries were involved, the first blown up, and the second strafed by rapid rifle fire. District Inspector Lt-Cmdr Worthington Craven was hit by two bullets and killed.District Inspector Taylor was shot in the chest and stomach. Four auxiliaries and a driver were killed and eight wounded. The IRA volunteers captured 18 rifles, 20 revolvers and a Lewis gun. At the Clonfin Ambush, Mac Eoin ordered his men to care for the wounded British, at the expense of captured weaponry. This earned him both praise and criticism, but became a big propaganda boost for the war effort, especially in the United States. He was admired by many within the IRA for leading practically the only effective column in the midlands. In July 1920, he was among the majority of commanders who were prepared to sign the Agreement recognizing the Volunteers as the Army of the Republic. The Oath of Allegiance was "for the purpose of ratifying under the Agreement under which the Volunteers came under the control of the Dail".
On 5 February 1921, The Anglo-Celt ran an article claiming the discovery of the body of William Chalmers, a local Protestant farmer. Mr Elliott was also a farmer, whose body was found on 30 January, lying face down in a bog.
Mac Eoin was captured at Mullingar railway station in March 1921, imprisoned and sentenced to death for the murder of an RIC District Inspector McGrath in the shooting at Anne Martin's street in January 1921.
Mac Eoin's family forge was near Currygrane, County Longford, the family home of Henry Wilson, the British CIGS. In June 1921, Wilson was petitioned for clemency by MacEoin's mother (who referred to her son as "John" in her letter), by his own brother Jemmy, and by the local Church of Ireland vicar, and passed on the appeals out of respect for the latter two individuals. Three auxiliaries had already given character references on his behalf after he had treated them chivalrously at the Clonfin Ambush in February 1921. However, Nevil Macready, British Commander-in-Chief, Ireland, confirmed the death sentence; he described Mac Eoin as "nothing more than a murderer", and wrote that he was probably responsible for other "atrocities", but also later recorded in his memoirs that Mac Eoin was the only IRA man he had met, apart from Michael Collins, to have a sense of humour. [ citation needed ]His second-in-command was from North Roscommon. Sean Connolly had a colourful career as head of Leitrim brigade.
Mac Eoin wrote the following letter to his friend (and classmate at Moyne Latin School) Father Jim Sheridan, a combatant in the Old IRA and a 'flying column' member, who had been ordained and sent to Milwaukee to study theology:
Dear Jim, Last week I was tried, convicted and sentenced to die three weeks from today. My poor mother was here yesterday to request that my body be turned over to her for Christian burial. They refused and told her that my body would be buried in quicklime in the prison yard. If you write immediately, I will receive your letter before I died. Farewell, Jim. Pray for my soul.
According to Oliver St. John Gogarty, Charles Bewley wrote Mac Eoin's death-sentence speech. Michael Collins organised a rescue attempt. Six IRA Volunteers, led by Paddy O'Daly, captured a British armoured car and, wearing British Army uniforms, gained access to Mountjoy Prison. However, Mac Eoin was not in the part of the jail they believed, and after some shooting, the party retreated.
Within days, Mac Eoin was elected to Dáil Éireann at the 1921 general election, as a TD for Longford–Westmeath.
He was eventually released from prison — along with all other members of the Dáil, after Collins threatened to break off treaty negotiations with the British government unless he were freed. It was rumoured that Sean Mac Eoin was to be the best man at Collins' wedding.
In the debate on the Anglo-Irish Treaty, Mac Eoin seconded Arthur Griffith's motion that it should be accepted.
Mac Eoin joined the National Army and was appointed GOC Western Command in June 1922. During the Civil War he pacified the west of Ireland for the new Free State, marching overland to Castlebar and linking up with a seaborne expedition that landed at Westport. His military career soared thereafter: he was appointed GOC Curragh Training Camp in August 1925, Quartermaster General in March 1927, and Chief of Staff in February 1929.
He resigned from the Army in 1929, and was elected at a by-election to Dáil Éireann for the Leitrim–Sligo constituency, representing Cumann na nGaedheal. At the 1932 general election he returned to the constituency of Longford–Westmeath, and—with the merging of Cumann na nGaedheal into Fine Gael—continued to serve the Longford area as TD in either Longford–Westmeath (1932–37, 1948–65) or Athlone–Longford (1937–48) until he was defeated at the 1965 general election.
During a long political career he served as Minister for Justice (February 1948 – March 1951) and Minister for Defence (March–June 1951) in the First Inter-Party Government, and again as Minister for Defence (June 1954 – March 1957) in the Second Inter-Party Government.
He unsuccessfully stood twice as candidate for the office of President of Ireland, against Seán T. O'Kelly in 1945, and Éamon de Valera in 1959.
Mac Eoin retired from public life after the 1965 general election, and died on 7 July 1973. He married Alice Cooney on 21 June 1922, at a ceremony attended by Griffith and Collins; she died on 16 February 1985. They had no children.
On 16 June 2013, during the 'General Sean MacEoin Commemoration Weekend', a statue of Mac Eoin was unveiled in his home town of Ballinalee; on the same day a plaque was unveiled in Bunlahy, his birthplace. Both the statue and the plaque were unveiled by Enda Kenny, the then Taoiseach, who laid a wreath at the statue.
The forge that he worked in is still standing and is known as 'Mac Eoin forge'.
The Irish Republican Army (IRA) was an Irish republican revolutionary paramilitary organisation. The ancestor of many groups also known as the Irish Republican Army, and distinguished from them as the Old IRA, it was descended from the Irish Volunteers, an organisation established on 25 November 1913 that staged the Easter Rising in April 1916. In 1919, the Irish Republic that had been proclaimed during the Easter Rising was formally established by an elected assembly, and the Irish Volunteers were recognised by Dáil Éireann as its legitimate army. Thereafter, the IRA waged a guerrilla campaign against the British occupation of Ireland in the 1919–1921 Irish War of Independence.
The Irish War of Independence or Anglo-Irish War was a guerrilla war fought in Ireland from 1919 to 1921 between the Irish Republican Army and British forces: the British Army, along with the quasi-military Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) and its paramilitary forces the Auxiliaries and Ulster Special Constabulary (USC). It was an escalation of the Irish revolutionary period into warfare.
Seán Francis MacEntee was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who served as Tánaiste from 1959 to 1969, Minister for Social Welfare from 1957 to 1961, Minister for Health from 1957 to 1965, Minister for Local Government and Public Health from 1941 to 1948, Minister for Industry and Commerce from 1939 to 1941, Minister for Finance from 1932 to 1939 and 1951 to 1954. He served as a Teachta Dála (TD) from 1918 to 1969. At the time of his death, he was the last surviving member of the First Dáil.
The Irish Volunteers, sometimes called the Irish Volunteer Force or Irish Volunteer Army, was a military organisation established in 1913 by Irish nationalists. It was ostensibly formed in response to the formation of the Ulster Volunteers in 1912, and its declared primary aim was "to secure and maintain the rights and liberties common to the whole people of Ireland". The Volunteers included members of the Gaelic League, Ancient Order of Hibernians and Sinn Féin, and, secretly, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB). Increasing rapidly to a strength of nearly 200,000 by mid-1914, it split in September of that year over John Redmond's commitment to the British War effort, with the smaller group retaining the name of "Irish Volunteers".
County Longford is a county in Ireland. It is in the province of Leinster. It is named after the town of Longford. Longford County Council is the local authority for the county. The population of the county was 40,873 at the 2016 census. The county is based on the historic Gaelic territory of Annaly (Anghaile), formerly known as Teffia (Teathbha).
Patrick J. Lenihan was an Irish Fianna Fáil politician who served as a Teachta Dála (TD) for the Longford–Westmeath constituency from 1965 to 1970.
Diarmuid O'Hegarty was an Irish civil servant and revolutionary. O’Hegarty was a member of the Irish Volunteer executive, IRA director of communications, and director of Organisation. Diarmuid O’Hegarty was an extremely self- effacing man; he was aptly described by Frank Pakenham as the ‘civil servant of the revolution’.
Ballinalee is a village in north County Longford, Ireland. It is situated on the River Camlin, and falls within the civil parish of Clonbroney.
The Irish Republican Army was a guerrilla army that fought the Irish War of Independence against Britain from 1919–1921. It saw itself as the legitimate army of the Irish Republic declared in 1919. The Anglo-Irish Treaty, which ended this conflict, was a compromise which abolished the Irish Republic, but created the self-governing Irish Free State, within the British Empire. The IRA was deeply split over whether to accept the Treaty. Some accepted, whereas some rejected not only the Treaty but also the civilian authorities who had accepted it. This attitude eventually led to the outbreak of the Irish Civil War in late June 1922 between pro- and anti-Treaty factions.
Paddy Daly (1888–1957) sometimes referred to as Paddy O'Daly, served in the Irish Republican Army during the Irish War of Independence and subsequently held the rank of major-general in the Irish National Army from 1922 to 1924.
The Diocese of Ardagh and Clonmacnoise is a Roman Catholic diocese in Ireland.
The North Longford Flying Column was a unit of the Old IRA in the Irish War of Independence, drawing its membership from 3 North Longford Battalions of the Irish Volunteers and was led by Sean Mac Eoin.
The Battle of Ballinalee took place during the Irish War of Independence on 3 November 1920. The Irish Republican Army (IRA), led by Seán Mac Eoin, drove a force of British Army and Royal Irish Constabulary from the village of Ballinalee in County Longford.
The Clonfin Ambush was an ambush carried out by the Irish Republican Army (IRA) on 2 February 1921, during the Irish War of Independence. It took place in the townland of Clonfin between Ballinalee and Granard in County Longford. The IRA ambushed two lorries carrying members of the British Auxiliary Division, sparking a lengthy gun battle in which four Auxiliaries were killed and eight wounded. The Auxiliaries eventually surrendered and their weapons were seized. The IRA commander, Seán Mac Eoin, won some praise for helping the wounded Auxiliaries. Following the ambush, British forces burned a number of houses and farms in the area, and shot dead an elderly farmer.
The Anglo-Irish Treaty was signed in London on 6 December 1921 and Dáil Éireann voted to approve the treaty on 7 January 1922, following a debate through late December 1921 and into January 1922. The vote was 64 in favour, 57 against, with the Ceann Comhairle and 3 others not voting. The Sinn Féin party split into opposing sides in the aftermath of the Treaty vote, which led to the Irish Civil War from June 1922 to May 1923.
Richard "Dick" Barrett was a prominent Irish Republican Army volunteer who fought in the War of Independence and on the Anti-Treaty side in the Irish Civil War during which he was captured and later executed on 8 December 1922.
Thomas Cornelius Hunter was a militant Irish republican. He was a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), Sinn Féin, the Irish Volunteers, was twice elected to the Irish parliament, Dáil Éireann, and fought against the forces of the Irish Free State as a member of the Irish Republican Army during the Irish Civil War. While not widely known today, he was present at or directly involved in several major incidents during the struggle for Irish independence from the United Kingdom of Great Britain and Ireland.
Seán Mac Mahon was an Irish nationalist who fought in the 1916 rising.
Padraic O'Farrell was an Irish book author, arts critic, playwright, historian, newspaper columnist, essayist, songwriter, theatrical director and theatrical producer. He had at least 33 books to his credit at the time of his death, with several more slated for release.
Christopher Patrick "Christy" Burke was an Irish revolutionary, hunger striker and sportsman from the prominent Drogheda family, the Burkes of Duleek Street. At just 21, he was made officer in command of the Irish Republican Army (I.R.A.) Arsenal in Bailieborough, County Cavan, on the recommendation of General Seán Mac Eoin. He was the only member of the I.R.A. who could forge cast iron hand grenades which would fragment. During the Irish Civil War, he underwent a hunger strike lasting twenty-three days.
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| Minister for Justice |
Thomas F. O'Higgins
| Minister for Defence |
| Minister for Defence |
| Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces |