Military Wiki
Seán MacDermott
Seán Mac Diarmada
Born (1883-02-28)28 February 1883
Died 12 May 1916(1916-05-12) (aged 33)
Place of birth Kiltyclogher, County Leitrim, Ireland
Place of death Kilmainham Gaol, Dublin, Ireland
Allegiance Irish Republican Brotherhood
Irish Volunteers
Years of service 1913–1916
Rank Supreme Council IRB
Military Committee IRB
Campaign Easter Rising

Seán Mac Diarmada (English: John MacDermott; 28 February 1883 – 12 May 1916), also known as Seán MacDermott, was an Irish political activist and revolutionary leader. He was one of the seven leaders of the Easter Rising of 1916, which he helped to organise as a member of the Military Committee of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) and was a signatory of the Proclamation of the Irish Republic. He was executed for his part in the Rising at the age of thirty-three.

Raised in rural County Leitrim, he was a member of many associations which promoted the cause of the Irish language, Gaelic revival and Irish nationalism in general, including the Gaelic League and (early in his career) the Catholic fraternity the Ancient Order of Hibernians. He was national organiser for Sinn Féin, and later manager of the newspaper Irish Freedom, started in 1910 by Bulmer Hobson and others. Within the Irish Republican Brotherhood, he was a close colleague and friend of veteran republican Tom Clarke.

Early life[]

Mac Diarmada was born in Corranmore, close to Kiltyclogher in County Leitrim,[1] an area where the landscape was marked by reminders of poverty and oppression.[2]

Surrounding Mac Diarmada in rural Corranmore, north Leitrim, there were signs of Irish history throughout the area. There was an ancient sweat-house, Mass rocks from the penal times and the persecutions of the 17th and 18th centuries, and deserted abodes as an aftermath of the hunger of the 1840s.[2] He was educated by the Irish Christian Brothers. In 1908 he moved to Dublin, by which time he already had a long involvement in several Irish separatist and cultural organisations, including Sinn Féin, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB), the Ancient Order of Hibernians and the Gaelic League. He was soon promoted to the Supreme Council of the IRB and eventually elected secretary.

In 1910 he became manager of the radical newspaper Irish Freedom, which he founded along with Bulmer Hobson and Denis McCullough. He also became a national organiser for the IRB, and was taken under the wing of veteran Fenian Tom Clarke. Indeed over the year the two became nearly inseparable. Shortly thereafter Mac Diarmada was stricken with polio and forced to walk with a cane.

In November 1913 Mac Diarmada was one of the original members of the Irish Volunteers, and continued to work to bring that organisation under IRB control. In May 1915 Mac Diarmada was arrested in Tuam, County Galway, under the Defense of the Realm Act for giving a speech against enlisting into the British Army.

Easter Rising[]

Plaque outside offices in Dublin once used by Seán MacDiarmada

Following his release in September 1915, he joined the secret Military Committee of the IRB, which was responsible for planning the rising. Indeed Mac Diarmada and Clarke were the people most responsible for it.

Due to his disability, Mac Diarmada took little part in the fighting of Easter week, but was stationed at the headquarters in the General Post Office. Following the surrender, he nearly escaped execution by blending in with the large body of prisoners. He was eventually recognised by Daniel Hoey of G Division.[3] Following a court-martial on 9 May, Mac Diarmada was executed by firing squad on 12 May at the age of 33. In September 1919 Hoey was shot dead by Michael Collins's Squad.[3] Likewise, the British Officer Lee-Wilson, who ordered Mac Diarmada to be shot, rather than imprisoned, was also killed in Cork on Collins's order during the Irish War of Independence.

Before his execution, Mac Diarmada wrote, "I feel happiness the like of which I have never experienced. I die that the Irish nation might live!”.[4]


Seán MacDermott Street in Dublin is named in his honour. So too is Mac Diarmada rail station in Sligo, and Páirc Sheáin Mhic Dhiarmada, the Gaelic Athletic Association stadium in Carrick-on-Shannon. Sean MacDermott tower in Ballymun, demolished in 2005, was also named after him. In his hometown of Kiltyclogher a statue enscribed with his final written words – see above – was erected in the village centre, his childhood home has become a National Monument.[5] [6]


See also[]

  • List of people on stamps of Ireland

External links[]

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