Seán Mc Eachaidh was born in Augnacloy Co. Tyrone on June 8th 1915. The Mac Eachaidh family moved to Ardoyne when Seán was just 5 years old. Seán Mc Caugheys burning sense of patriotism defined every aspect of his youth. He was a cultural activist and played for Ardoyne Kikham’s & McKelvey’s C.L.G.
He Joined the Henry Joy McCracken Slua of Na Fianna Éireann pledging to serve his nation in the shadow of Cave Hill. A dedicated Fiann oozing a capability beyond his years he always impressed his peers and was soon recommended for service in the ranks of what was then known as the “Belfast Battalion” Irish Republican Army.
As an I.R.A Volunteer his remarkable ability propelled him to the position of Unit O/C where he assumed responsibility for the Ardoyne Units of Óglaigh na hÉireann. Thereafter Seán was appointed to the Battalion Staff not resting on his laurels meant he was soon co-opted on to the IRA G.H.Q.
Seán Mac Eachaidh continued to shine as an inspirational I.R.A Volunteer and following a term as Northern Command O/C he was then elevated to the position of Adjutant General of the I.R.A.
The journey Seán Mac Eachaidh travelled from Na Fianna in Ard Éoin to being appointed Adjutant General of the entire I.R.A is a remarkable example of how humility and belief lead to succes in this struggle. Seán Mac Eachaidh never relinquished his position as a Volunteer, he was always operational and because he refused to rest on his laurels or believe for a second he had more important work to do as an officer than he had to committ in the daily grind of a Volunteer he exhibited a humility beyind manhood laced with a unique & unrelenting belief. His Journey inspires an unfathomable confidence in our capabilities as Separatists. Seán Mac Eachaidh expression of his birth right when combined with his prowess as a soldier produced a genuine hero that we should all aspire to emulate.
While conducting his duties as Adjutant General the then Chief of Staff of the I.R.A Stephen Hayes was exposed as an informer. Hayes was immediately placed under Court martial orders.
Seán Mac Eachaidh who had risen from the ranks of the Ardoyne I.R.A now assumed the position Chief of Staff of the entire Army. He was to hold this position throughout the duration of the Army’s investagation into the Stephen Hayes affair.
Following the investiagation into informer Stephen Hayes, Seán Mac Eachaidh by now Chief of Staff once again refused to relinquish his duty as a Volunteer, he was arrested by Free Staters and charged with the “unlawful detention of informer Stephen Hayes”. Although a charge of this nature would usually receive a sentence of 6 months Seán McCaughey was sentenced to death by a military tribunal. After a public out cry his sentence was commuted to life of Penal servitude in Portlaoise Gaol.
Seán Mac Eachaidh refused to live as anything other than the Republican he most certainly was. For a period of 4 years and 9 months he was held in the most terrible conditions naked & tortured in solitary confinement by a hateful and hostile Portlaoise administration.
Finally after almost 5 years of depraved torturous brutality Seán Mac Eachaidh embarked on a Hunger Strike on April 19th 1946, after 16 days Seán went on thirst-strike. He joined the ranks of the Martyred dead on the Morning of Saturday May 11th 1946. There was international condemnation of the Free State following the death of Seán Mac Eachaidh. The details of the conditions he had been forced to endure sent a shock wave across the world, of all the prison struggles fought for this Nation, the war Seán Mac Eachaidh fought alone in Portlaoise Gaol in the 1940’s surely stands out as one of the most brutally harrowing accounts of Prison struggle thus far.
His remains were taken through the thronged streets of Dublin on the route home to his beloved Ard Éoin for requiem mass in Holy Cross Church Thousands of mourners lined the streets for this martyred hero. A Volunteer of such resiliant strength and unshakable belief that even the isolation, torture, lonliness and hatred he endured in Portlaoise Gaol at a time when the I.R.A was going through a difficult phase could niether dent the faith he had in his people nor the confidence he had in his Comrades at home. He never questioned, for a moment, his duty. Seán Mac Eachaidh fought British Rule in Ireland North and South as he lived and as he died he fought them harder still, his greatest gift to this Nation is the strenght if his memory an inspiration to all Republicans that tells us, there is no darkness, confined or not, that a faithful beings vision of freedom cannot dispel and mould in to light.
The Faith Seán Mac Eachaidh had placed in the Republican people of Ardoyne as he lay dying in agony in Portlaoise Gaol was returned to him and confirmed by those people gathering by the thousand to respectfully file past the remains of their neighbour and their hero. The men of the Belfast Batallion who had built the spirit of comradeship that returned to chase out the lonliness in the isolation of solitary confinement returned again to this Patriots side and now once more in the shadow of Cave hill they marched their fallen comrade to Milltown Cemetary for burial with full IRA honours.
Seán Mac Eachaidh Hunger Strike Martyr was interred in Milltown Cemetery and just as he lived he continues to rest as an I.R.A Volunteer and an inspiration to all.
We salute you Seán Mac Eachaidh
POSTED ON BEHALF OF : Cumann Sean MacEachaidh
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