Séa­mus, shot dead by the RIC in 1920, is re­mem­bered

THOU­SANDS MOURNED AFTER HE WAS KILLED BY AN RIC BULLET. NOW THE FAM­ILY OF BRI­GADIER SÉA­MUS O’BRIEN HAVE AT LAST BEEN RE-UNITED IN HIS MEM­ORY. DAVID MEDCALF MET THEM IN RATH­DRUM

Bray People - - INTERVIEW -

THERE are no grand streets in Dublin named after Séa­mus O’Brien, nor rail­way sta­tions ei­ther.

His mem­ory is cer­tainly not al­to­gether for­got­ten, how­ever, with a plaque in place on the wall of the premises where he lived (and died) in Rath­drum.

It was there on the main street of the County Wick­low town that fam­ily mem­bers of the long de­ceased pa­triot gath­ered re­cently to re­call a lifefe ended by a po­lice­man’s bullet in 1920.

And af­ter­wards a few of them trailed on southh over the Wex­ford bor­der to pay quiet trib­ute at the grave near Kil­muck­ridge of a re­mark­ablee man who left be­hind a re­mark­able story.

Séa­mus’s legacy was di­vided after his death,h with one branch of the clan re­tain­ing a keen sense of the dead man’s repub­li­can lean­ings.

Mean­while, he was also re­mem­bered by oth­er­srs who were scarcely aware of his sta­tus as Bri­gadierer O’Brien, rebel hero of 1916.

It is only re­cently that the two branches haveve come to­gether to ac­knowl­edge their sharedd in­ter­est in some­one whose life was cut abrupt­lyy short al­most a cen­tury ago in 1920.

The ceme­tery at Bal­ly­val­don, be­tween thee pop­u­lar coastal re­sorts of Black­wa­ter and Kil-lmuck­ridge, could scarcely be more ru­ral, lo­catedd on a corner be­side the junc­tion of two wind­ingg back roads.

Ac­cord­ing to press re­ports of the time, thi­sis qui­etest of places was the fo­cus of at­ten­tion foror thou­sands of mourn­ers that Fe­bru­ary of 1920..

The in­ter­ment of the Ir­ish Vol­un­teer from nearby Mor­riscas­tle was an oc­ca­sion of con­sid­er­able pomp and repub­li­can cer­e­mony.

He lies there to this day, where his grand­daugh­ter June Flynn and grand-nephew Paul Humphreys came to check that all was in or­der.

United in ad­mi­ra­tion and af­fec­tion for a shared rel­a­tive, they ac­knowl­edged that it is only re­cently they be­came aware of each other’s ex­is­tence. Strangers not so long ago, they made plans to­gether to en­sure that in­va­sive wplants do not wreck Séa­mus’s me­mo­rial in this beau­ti­ful but ob­scure burial ground.

So, how was it that th­ese cousins re­mained ig­no­rant of each other for so long? Here is the tale.

Séa­mus O’Brien was born in the 1880s and raised in Mor­riscas­tle, son of John O’Brien and Mary (née Mit­ten).

He served his time as an ap­pren­tice in the gro­cery/pub trade at Cooney’s public house in Ou­lart and then found em­ploy­ment not far away in the town of En­nis­cor­thy.

The place was a hot-bed of na­tion­al­ism at the time and Séa­mus was caught up in the mood of the era, join­ing the Ir­ish Vol­un­teers in 1914.

The cathe­dral town on the Slaney was vis­ited by Pádraig Pearse shortly be­fore the Easter Ris­ing, ad­dress­ing an en­thu­si­as­tic crowd at the Athenaeum.

In all like­li­hood, O’Brien was among those who heard the ral­ly­ing cry and de­clared they would not be found want­ing when the call to arm­sar came in 1916.

En­nis­cor­thy had the dis­tinc­tion of be­ing the on­lyon town out­side Dublin ac­tu­ally to rise dur­ing theth Ris­ing which proved to be the foun­da­tion ston­est of the cur­rent Ir­ish State.

The man from Mor­riscas­tle bore arms as the AthenaeumA as it be­came the head­quar­ters of a mil­i­tarym in­sur­rec­tion.

When Pearse even­tu­ally gave or­ders to his Wex­fordfo fol­low­ers to lay down their guns, Bri­gadier O’Brien was shipped across the Ir­ish Sea to the prison camp at Fron­goch in Wales.

After his re­lease and re­turn home to Ire­land at Christ­masC of 1916, he was ac­tive in pro­mot­ing Sinn FéinF and in re­sis­tance to the Crown’s no­to­ri­ous BlackB and Tans.

He made the move from Wex­ford to Wick­low ear­lyea the fol­low­ing year, work­ing at the ho­tel in Rath­drumR which was run by Mrs O’Leary.

How­ever, he was clearly a man of in­de­pen­dent am­bi­tionam and he opened a gro­cery shop in his new­lyn adopted town in part­ner­ship with Seán

LEFT:L The plaque in Séa­mus O’Brien’s mem­ory.

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