memorial is unveiled
A car took a wrong turning on the night of Holy Thursday
1916, and, in the darkness, went off Ballykissane Pier near
Of the four men in the car, only me, Tom McInerney from
Limerick City survived.
The others were James Monahan of Dublin, Con Keating of
Cahersiveen and Donal Sheehan of the parish of Monagea,
Sheehan was not known to the locals in Kerry and after his
body was recovered from the Laune River, he was given a
strangers burial in the local cemetery amid great
It was to be a considerable time before the full story and
its futility was to become known.
Donal Sheehan had had an ordinary upbringing. He was born
at Ballintubrid, just off the main Limerick-Killarney road
a mile and a half west of Newcastle West. Educated locally,
he succeeded in the Civil Service examinations and after
a period as a bookkeeper in London, returned to Ireland
to avoid conscription when the Great War broke out. He worked
in Gearys biscuit factory, beside where Limerick City
Hall stands today. He had taught himself Irish from an early
age and had been active in Conradh na Gaeilge in London
also upon his return home. But, unknown to most, he had
also become a volunteer, and rose to the rank of captain
under Joseph Plunkett.
It was in that capacity that he had received orders from
the Military Council in Dublin to go to seize the radio
equipment from the School of Wireless at Cahirsiveen and
bring it to Tralee Bay with the intention of contacting
the German submarine, Aud, bearing the arms which Roger
Casement had assembled in Germany, and which guns were to
become the main stay of the rebellion planned for Easter
But the four-man detail never got to the Cahirsiveen wireless
establishment and, it later transpired, even if it had it
would have been of no use because the Aud did not itself
have any radio equipment aboard.
But the fact remains that those three men, Monahan, Keating
and Sheehan were the first to die on active service in what
was to be the Easter rebellion of 1916.
In 1966, a plaque was erected at Monaghea church, where
Sheehan was baptised but this Easter Sunday a far more accessible
monument was unveiled near his home place, beside the Killarney
Pole on the verge of the N21. Arranged by Newcastle West
Old IRA association, the simple limestone memorial was unveiled
by the chairman, Mike Dwane of Feohanagh, in the unavoidable
absence through indisposition of Sheehans niece Catherine
McCashen. The oration was given by Tim Mulcahy, Monagea
and the blessing was performed by Fr Patrick Costello.
A wreath was laid by Mary McCarthy, PRO of the association,
and journals were presented by Frank Bouchier Hayes, secretary
of Newcastle West Historical Society.
The lament Marbha Luimnuighe was played by piper Seamus
Hunt, followed by the National Anthem.
Donal Sheehan was not yet thirty when he lost his life on
active service on the night of April 20/21, 1916. He had
been a quiet man, tall and sandy haired. In the convulsions
of the events of Easter week and of the War of Independence
which it precipitated, his death went largely unrecognised
until the full facts came to light in the passage of time.
Courtesy of The Limerick Leader