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Major Con Mac Sweeny Grave

Aughrim Principal Teacher Fought in France

John Boyle Con McSweeny

John Boyle, Vice President, Irish National Teachers’ Organisation laying a wreath on the grave of Major Con Mac Sweeny in Aughrim, Co Wicklow. Major Mac Sweeny

Tuesday, 21 June 2016

INTO Honours Former Executive Member Wounded in 1916

Aughrim Principal Teacher Fought in France

On Monday 20 June, the Irish National Teachers’ Organisation (INTO) laid a wreath at the grave of Con Mac Sweeny  in Macreddin Lower Cemetery near Aughrim to honour its former Executive Member who was injured while fighting in World War 1 in France in 1916.

Laying the wreath, INTO Vice President John Boyle said that INTO’s links with 1916 reflected the diversity of Irish society at the time. He referred to Margaret Skinnider, a future President of INTO, who took an active part at Stephens Green in the Easter Rising and to Thomas Ashe a Principal Teacher and INTO member who was the leader at the battle of Ashbourne at Easter 1916, sentenced to death afterwards. INTO has honoured each of these figures in recent weeks and John Boyle said that it was also appropriate to honour those teachers who had taken a different direction in what they believed was the best interests of Ireland at the time. Con Mc Sweeny was a former Principal of the Boys’ School in Aughrim and was an elected member of the INTO Executive Committee where he campaigned for teachers and INTO, particularly against the harsh school inspection regime which existed at the time. At cost to himself, Mc Sweeny left his teaching position and accepted a commission in the British Army in 1915, for which he was recommended by William Redmond MP.

INTO Deputy General Secretary Noel Ward referred to Con Mac Sweeny’s activities as a supporter of the Gaelic League, the Irish Language and an organiser of Feiseanna throughout Co. Wicklow. Mr. Ward said that Con Mc Sweeny might readily have taken the route of Padraig Pearse but instead took that advocated by John Redmond. On leaving the British Army and returning to his job as Principal in Aughrim after World War 1, Con Mc Sweeny held the rank of Major and is so described in INTO membership records from the 1920s and on his grave stone at Macreddin.

INTO speakers specifically acknowledged those who had helped research the life of Con Mac Sweeny, including Brid Murphy (teacher at Aughrim National School) and Sean Kenny (retired local postman and historian), and also thanked William Byrne of Byrne’s Memorials in Aughrim for completing the work commissioned by INTO in cleaning and restoring the headstone at Macreddin.  ENDS