According to locals in Athlone, on taking over the Athlone Barracks Sean Mac Eoin shot a sentry for being asleep on the job.
Dad had just moved to Athlone, where we lived in Auburn Terrace. Though a republican to the core, he was still proud of Sean Mac Eoin as he was a fellow Longford, and more important, a Ballinalee man.
We had a tongs he made for my great grandfather, and a pictiure of the family he had taken before he was famous.
Dad was in the pub blathering about Ballinalee and the great Sean Mac Eoin, only to be rebuked by a fellow drinker, who had been arguing the Free Sytate side in a debate about the Civil War only minutes before.
This confused Dad, who asked him if he supported the Free State why did he hate Mac Eoin.
He got told the following story:
There was a local boy from the tenaments called McEvaddy who joined the Free State Army just as a job. He was not long in it, had no military training and no family background in the army.
Sean Mac Eoin had taken over the barracks and was doing the rounds with a British Officer who was doing inspections – you wont read THAT in the history books!!! – some time after the British withrawal, and Sean Mac Eoin found the boy asleep at the front gate.
On being admonished by the British Officer for having a sleeping sentry, Mac Eoin said “I’ll wake him” and prompty shot him dead through the temple.
Ive tried to verify the accuracy of the story, its denied by all historians, but as the man who supported Ireland signing the treaty had it for dad, and that man was actually related to young McEvaddy Id give the story credence, its not just to discredit a political or military enemy.
I was talking this story through with a Hunt man in Birr -son of Hunt who was in the North Longford Flying Comumn, who described Mac Eoin as “A Flawed hero, but a hero nonetheless”. This man also knew that story, as did Paddy Heaney of Kinnitty knew of it, and somewhere in Athlone there is a plaque to the boys memory.
In memory I wrote the verse “Shot Sentry, Forgotton, Remembered.“