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] He was also a member of the Knights of Columbanus.

Death[edit]

On New Year's Day 1957, 14 IRA volunteers crossed the border into County Fermanagh[4] 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.[5]

Commemoration[edit]

The attack on the barracks inspired two popular rebel songs: ‘Seán South of Garryowen' and ‘The Patriot Game '.[6]

  • "Sean South", also known as "Sean South of Garryowen", written by Sean Costelloe, from County Limerick, to the tune of another republican ballad "Roddy McCorley"[7] and made famous by the Wolfe Tones. The popularity of this song has led to the misconception that South was from Garryowen, a suburb in Limerick city. In fact, this was used in context of Limerick. South was actually from 47 Henry Street in Limerick.[citation needed]
  • South is also mentioned in The Rubberbandits song "Up Da Ra", which pokes fun at the concept of armchair republicanism using the literary device of the unreliable narrator.
  • There is a plaque dedicated to him outside his birthplace on Henry Street, Limerick.[8]
Monument in Moane's Cross, Fermanagh to South and O'Hanlon

Footnotes[edit]

  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. ^ http://www.edentubber50th.com/pages/south.php Edentubber Martyrs Fiftieth Anniversary
  5. ^ http://www.anphoblacht.com/news/detail/31334 An Phoblacht 8 October 1998
  6. ^ Ruan O'Donnell, Professor of History at the University of Limerick
  7. ^ http://www.thesession.org/tunes/display/6673
  8. ^ Limerick commemorations mark the death of Sean South