18 January 2007 Edition

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Play remembers young revolutionary

Seán McDermott was only 20 years of age when he died during an IRA operation over 30 years ago. Despite his youth, at the time of his death, Seán was already a seasoned Volunteer, who had faced incarceration as one of the youngest internees and survived serious injury after being shot by the British army. As an IRA Staff Officer in the 1st Battalion, Seán was a charismatic leader, astute political thinker and a courageous soldier.

Next week the 1st Battalion annual reunion, will host a short drama about McDermott. Commissioned by Andersonstown ex-POWs the play was written and directed by West Belfast poet and playwright Rosaleen Walsh. It is written from the perspective of a former girlfriend, who reflects on the life and death of the Volunteer.

“Seán was truly a revolutionary, an inspiration to the people around him and a brave soldier. He epitomised the very best, with his vision and commitment,” said Rosaleen.

McDermott was born in Derry but lived in Liverpool until he was five when his family moved to Belfast. In May 1972 he was shot and badly injured during an exchange with British soldiers in West Belfast.

“At 16 years of age Seán was one of the youngest internees. In 1975 he was released and despite having secured a place at college to train as a journalist, Seán immediately returned to active service as an IRA Volunteer,” said Rosaleen.

In April 1976 he was shot and fatally wounded at the home of an RUC reservist after planting a bomb at the Conway Hotel in Dunmurry. The bombing unit had included Mairéad Farrell, later shot dead by the British SAS in Gibraltar, and Kieran Doherty who died during the 1981 Hunger Strike. 

While Mairéad Farrell was arrested at the scene, Seán and Kieran escaped and fled to a nearby housing estate where they attempted to commandeer a vehicle.

On the pretext of getting his car keys, an RUC reservist tricked Seán into an upstairs room where he produced a weapon and opened fire. Seán, fatally wounded, returned fire and held the RUC man at bay long enough to allow his comrade to escape.

“The play has been written as part of the 1st Battalions annual reunion but the response has been so overwhelming that I have already started developing the script into a full length play. I hope to have it completed and staged by Easter,” said Rosaleen.

If you haven’t already secured a ticket for the play’s inaugural performance then you are unlikely to be successful. “The tickets are already sold out,” said Rosaleen, “but anyone interested in seeing the play will be able to when it reopens at Easter,” said Rosaleen.

BY LAURA FRIEL


An Phoblacht
44 Parnell Sq.
Dublin 1
Ireland
 

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