Sean Mac Diarmada [1884-1916], signatory of the 1916 Proclamation
His copy of MacGeoghegan’s History of Ireland, trans. Patrick O’Kelly, inscribed on a preliminary page, ‘John Joseph McDermott has received this valuable present from his loving sister – Miss Katie McDermott, July 1st 1902’ [possibly for his 18th birthday]. Thick large octavo cloth, much worn and stained, lacks title page and part of index, sold as an association copy, w.a.f.
An amazing association copy, showing the signs of accompanying Mac Diarmada on his travels around the country roads of Ireland as a Republican organiser, in all weathers and often by bicycle.
Born near Kiltyclogher in Co. Leitrim, Mac Diarmada developed an early interest in Irish language and history. He left home early and worked in Glasgow and Belfast, before meeting Bulmer Hobson and Denis McCullough, who employed him as an organiser for the Dungannon Clubs and recruited him to the IRB in 1906. He organised C.J. Dolan’s unsuccessful election campaign for Sinn Fein in Leitrim in 1908, and later moved his base to Dublin where Tom Clarke employed him as a full-time organiser for the IRB; he became a close friend of Clarke and his wife Kathleen. He was manager of the IRB’s weekly Irish Freedom from 1910, was secretary to the Supreme Council and was closely involved in the foundation of the Irish Volunteers in 1913. He was partly disabled by an attack of polio in 1912, but it did not slow him down much. He fought in the GPO during the Rising, and was one of the last to leave the burning building. He was shot by firing squad on 12 May 1916.
MacGeoghegan’s History of Ireland has long been superseded, but it was valued by Republicans around the turn of the century as a useful counterpoint to other histories written mainly from a Protestant/Unionist point of view.
A superb association item, from a man who cared nothing for possessions, and left almost none after him.
Provenance: MacDermott family, by descent; Independence sale 15 April 2008.