1 December 2014 Edition
Mícheál Ó Loingsigh, Tralee, Kerry
MÍCHEÁL S. Ó LOINGSIGH, who died on 6 November, was apprenticed at The Kerryman newspaper as a teenager. He became a master printer following his studies at the London College of Printing. He helped establish Drogheda Printers, of which he was Managing Director for much of his working life and which printed An Phoblacht/Republican News for many years during the conflict.
He came from a Kerry republican background, had family members in the Tan War and was a strong democrat and internationalist. St John’s Church, Tralee, was crowded for his funeral Mass on the Saturday morning, following which he was buried in Old Rath Cemetery.
During the 1960s, Mícheál Ó Loingsigh was a member of the Wolfe Tone Society which had been established in 1963 to mark the bicentenary of the birth of Tone and which played an influential role in the formation of the NI Civil Rights Association (NICRA). The Northern Civil Rights Movement, which NICRA initially led, helped destabilise unionist hegemony after a half-century of one-sided Stormont rule.
Mícheál Ó Loingsigh walked in the first NICRA-sponsored civil rights march from Coalisland to Dungannon in August 1968 and was also on the follow-up march in Armagh.
When Ireland’s membership of the EEC became a live issue in 1969, he became chair of the Common Market Defence Campaign, the non-party group that campaigned against Ireland’s accession treaty to the EEC in the May 1972 Constitutional referendum.
His firm printed many of the pamphlets which put forward the arguments of the ‘No’ side on that occasion, which included the Irish Congress of Trade Unions, the Labour Party and the two elements of the recently-divided Sinn Féin.
Following that he helped to establish the Irish Sovereignty Movement (of which he was also chair) and he continued to campaign against European integration and in defence of Irish neutrality during the 1970s and 1980s.
Mícheál Ó Loingsigh was a committed Irish-language supporter and a member of Conradh na Gaeilge. In the 1970s he served some days in Mountjoy Prison for his part in the TV licence campaign against the Government’s failure to establish an Irish-language TV channel. He was also active in the Gaelscoil movement and helped establish Scoil Naithi in Ballinteer, Dublin.
He was a friend of labour historian and Northern civil rights activist C. Desmond Greaves (1913-1988) and was one of the founders of the annual Desmond Greaves School, of which he was director for some years.
Mícheál passed away peacefully at Tralee General Hospital, surrounded by his wife and children. He was a beloved husband of Eibhlín (nee Casey) and much loved father of Siobhán, Pádraig, Niall, Saibh, Muireann and Áine.
He is sadly missed by his sister Helen (New York), brothers Pat and Jack (New York) and Fred (Tralee), sons-in-law Frank, Harry and Chris, daughters-in-law Suzanne and Isabel, and his grandchildren, as well as by neighbours, friends, admirers and old political colleagues across the country.