Seán South

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Seán South
Born 1928
Limerick, Ireland
Died 1 January 1957
Moane's Cross in Altawark townland near Cooneen, six miles from Brookeborough, in County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland
Allegiance Irish Republican Army
Years of service 1956–1957
Rank Volunteer
Battles/wars Border Campaign

Seán South (Irish: Seán Sabhat; 1928–1 January 1957)[1] was a member of an IRA military column led by Sean Garland on a raid against a Royal Ulster Constabulary barracks in Brookeborough, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland, on New Year's Day, 1957.[1] South died of wounds sustained during the raid along with another IRA volunteer, Fergal O'Hanlon.

Early life[edit]

Seán South was born in Limerick where he was educated at Sexton Street Christian Brothers School, later working as a clerk in a local wood-importing company called McMahon's.[citation needed] South was a member of a number of organisations including the Gaelic League, Legion of Mary, Clann na Poblachta and Sinn Féin.[citation needed] In Limerick he founded the local branch of Maria Duce, a social Catholic organisation, where he also edited both An Gath and An Giolla.[1] He had received military training as a lieutenant of the Irish army reserve, the LDF which would later become the FCA (An Fórsa Cosanta Áitiúil or Local Defence Force), before he became a volunteer in the Irish Republican Army.[1]

South was a devout Catholic, being a member of An Réalt (the Irish-speaking chapter of the Legion of Mary),[2] and a conservative, even by the standards of the day.[3] It was at a meeting of An Réalt that he met his only serious girlfriend, Máire de Paor. She was a school teacher from Limerick, and was a great lover of the Irish language. [4] He was also a member of the Knights of Columbanus. Some sources have stated that South was either a member or supporter of the Irish nationalist and pro-fascist party Ailtirí na hAiséirghe.[5][better source needed][6]

In 1949, South wrote a series of letters to his local newspaper, the Limerick Leader. These letters condemned Hollywood films for what South regarded as their immoral messages. South accused these films of promoting a "stream of insidious propaganda which proceeds from Judeo-Masonic controlled sources, and which warps and corrupts the minds of our youth."[7][8] South also claimed that the American film industry was controlled by "Jewish and Masonic executives dictating to Communist rank and file."[7] In his letters, South also denounced Irish trade unions, and praised the activities of Senator Joseph McCarthy in the United States.[8]


On New Year's Day 1957, 14 IRA volunteers crossed the border into County Fermanagh[9] to launch an attack on a joint RUC/B Specials barracks in Brookeborough. During the attack a number of volunteers were injured, two fatally. Fergal O'Hanlon and Seán South died of their wounds as they were making their escape. They were carried into an old sandstone barn by their comrades which was later demolished by a British army jeep.[citation needed] The stone from the barn was used to build a memorial at the site.[10]A young Catholic Constable, John Scalley, was killed in the ensuing gun battle between the IRA unit and the RUC.


The attack on the barracks inspired two popular rebel songs: ‘Seán South of Garryowen' and ‘The Patriot Game '.[11]

Monument in Moane's Cross, Fermanagh to South and O'Hanlon


  1. ^ a b c d A New Dictionary of Irish History from 1800, D.J. Hickey & J.E. Doherty, Gill & Macmillan, Dublin 2003, ISBN 0-7171-2520-3 Pg.452
  2. ^ Bishop, Patrick & Mallie, Eamonn (1987). The Provisional IRA. Corgi Books. p. 42. ISBN 0-552-13337-X. 
  3. ^ Brian Hanley and Scott Millar (2009), The Lost Revolution: The Story of the Official IRA and The Workers' Party, p.14
  4. ^ Des Fogarty (2006), Seán South of Garryowen, p.32
  5. ^ Ailtirí na hAiséirghe
  6. ^
  7. ^ a b David Hannigan, "Spiders under the Stone". Fortnight, No. 314 (Feb., 1993), pp. 34-35
  8. ^ a b Ian S. Wood, Britain, Ireland and the Second World War. Edinburgh University Press, Edinburgh, 2010 ISBN 9780748630011 (p.204)
  9. ^ "Archived copy". Archived from the original on 2009-11-15. Retrieved 2009-05-21.  Edentubber Martyrs Fiftieth Anniversary
  10. ^ An Phoblacht 8 October 1998
  11. ^ Ruan O'Donnell, Professor of History at the University of Limerick Archived 2009-11-15 at the Wayback Machine.
  12. ^
  13. ^ Limerick commemorations mark the death of Sean South