Nostalgic exhibition salutes MacEoin

Michael Sheridan, Michael Carrigy, Lt Col Ray Yorke,  Frank Sheridan, Mary Denis, Ann Donohoe, Pat Lynch, Mary Gaynor, Peggy Nolan, Mary Sorohan, Sheila Mullen, Catherine Skelly, John and Padraig Murphy, Kieran McKeonPhoto by Shelley Corcoran
Calls for a museum to house local artefacts were made by Mayor Peggy Nolan during the Séan MacEoin Commemorations launch in Ballinalee.

Calls for a museum to house local artefacts were made by Mayor Peggy Nolan during the Séan MacEoin Commemorations launch in Ballinalee.

The launch took place at the Thomas Ashe Hall last Wednesday, amid memorabilia and artefacts that dated back to the War of Independence and the Civil War - historical events that McEoin was heavily involved in.

“Séan MacEoin was a blacksmith, soldier and statesman,” Col Raymond Yorke who officially launched the commemorations said.

“His aim was to defend, protect and support the right of the Irish people to an independent Ireland and all aspects of his life - from his youth here in Ballinalee, to politician and military man - will be explored this weekend.”

Sean MacEoin was born in Bunlahy in 1893 to Catherine Treacy and Andrew McKeon.

In 1914 he joined the Clonbroney Company of the Irish Volunteers and rose to highest rank within the armed forces - Chief of Staff.

“Séan MacEoin’s core values were courage, duty, honour, loyalty and discipline - values that the Irish Defence Forces hold to this very day,” Col Yorke continued.

“He was a skilled leader - tactical and strategic - all of which were seen in the Battle of Ballinalee and the Battle of Clonfin.”

He then went on to speak about the “traumatic” events of 1922 and 1923 when Civil War broke out in Ireland, and how the world of the Blacksmith from Ballinalee was “thrown into turmoil”.

“There was defection, threats against his life and those of his friends; he had lost so many of his colleagues,” added Col Yorke.

“He described himself as a fighter, not a writer and in May 1929 he resigned from the army and went into politics, where he became a TD for Sligo-Leitrim. In 1932 he was elected a TD for Longford/Westmeath.”

The children from the local national schools then spoke to those gathered about their findings, all of which was exhibited.

“We learned about the significance of MacEoin in the fight for Irish freedom; we found loads of safe houses in Ballinalee and learned how much part of our community Rose Cottage and the Forge were,” Annie Connell, Ballinalee NS said.

Adam and Séan Og from Killoe NS then intrigued the audience when they told how they discovered a bloodline to MacEoin. “We found out that Séan Og is related to General MacEoin and I am related to Mick Heslin,” Adam announced proudly.