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In Memoriam: Seán O’Donoghue (1958-2019)

Seán O'Donoghue holding a Kirby Morgan 17A helmet in Poppintree Youth Centre, Ballymun

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Seán O’Donoghue (1958-2019)

– author, poet, deep-sea diver –

Seán O’Donoghue passed away three years ago this weekend, not long after the publication of his second book, Native Freeborn Irishman. The first print run had almost sold out within just a few short weeks.

Native Freeborn Irishman is a volume consisting of poetry, prose, family and other photographs. It describes a life inspired by tales told around his father’s fireside, about the actions of General Michael Collins, Cumann na mBan, Éamon de Valera, Tom Barry, Terence McSweeney, the Flying Columns and many, many, many more.

“The bravery of these men and women, inspired Seán to become a deep-sea saturation diver – one of the most dangerous jobs in the world, after that of a frontline soldier or a spy. In all his work with divers, over many years, he never met a diver who was not brave.”

– from the Preface to Native Freeborn Irishman

Seán O’Donoghue was born in Dublin, in 1958. The eldest of four boys and one girl, Seán studied at St. Aidan’s Christian Brothers school, Whitehall; at Fort Bovisand Underwater Training Centre in Plymouth, England and at Fort William Underwater Training Centre in Scotland. Later, Seán studied English for one year at All Hallows, DCU and then, for one year at DCU proper, for Creative Writing.

His job as a deep-sea diver took him to Malaysia (to Sarawak), to work for Shell and, to Eygpt and the North Sea. When the Piper Alpha oil rig went on fire in July 1988, Seán was part of the recovery mission and the toppling operation. He suffered Post Traumatic Stress Disorder after that job. When Seán finished diving, he became a financial consultant, working mostly with divers and oil company personnel.

He also volunteered to work as a Public Relations Officer for Grampian Irish Social Club and, in that capacity, after listening to a group of boys playing in a Mandolin orchestra, he was invited to visit a Romanian orphanage. He went for a week but stayed for six.

Seán won first place with a piece called Ripples, in a competition for the north-east of Scotland organised by the Grampian Speakers Club. Ripples is the story of Seán’s near death experience under the Piper Alpha oil rig, four years before the fire.

Seán O’Donoghue passed away on 8 October 2019. He is sadly missed by family, friends, all who knew him. May he rest in peace.

Native Freeborn Irishman by Seán O’Donoghue is published under the imprint of The Manuscript Publisher (ISBN: 978-1-911442-18-9) and available to buy online.

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Centenary of the Death of Michael Collins (1890-1922)

Photo of Michael Collins (1890-1922), in uniform, as a young recruit

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Michael Collins (1890-1922): Irish Revolutionary Leader and Statesman

The centenary of the death of Michael Collins is being marked today. A key figure in Ireland’s War of Independence, chief negotiator (with Arthur Griffith) of the Anglo-Irish Treaty of 1921, Michael Colllins was killed in an ambush at Béal na Bláth, in his native county of Cork, on this day (22 August) in 1922. It brought to an end a short life but one that left behind an legacy of immense significance for Ireland and the Irish people.

No single volume could completely encapsulate the life of such an extraordinary figure and the times in which he lived. A whole series of books would be required and still questions would remain. That said, three books published under the imprint of The Manuscript Publisher and available to buy online, highlight and illustrate the diverse range of views, regard and appreciation that surround Michael Collins, his life, his role in shaping Irish history.


Native Freeborn Irishman

Native Freeborn Irishman represents the author, Seán O’Donoghue’s testimony to “how a deep-sea diver was influenced by the actions of General Michael Collins and others, from tales told to him at his father’s fireside.”

This is not a book that is in any way ‘about’ Michael Collins but it does represents testimony to how he has come to be regarded, by some at least, of the generations that followed and who inherited his legacy. What it does contain is a rich seam of personal reflections from an author who lived an adventurous and colourful life of his own though not without personal cost. Read about his travels to Malaysia, Egypt, the North Sea to work as a deep-sea diver; the tragedies he witnessed as part of the rescue mission following the Piper Alpha oil rig disaster of July 1988; his lives and loves, the friends that he made along the way are all chronicled in lucid and vivid poetry and in prose.

Sadly, Seán passed away in 2019 but he too has left behind a rich legacy in the form of his writings, contained in the book, Native Freeborn Irishman, published under the imprint of The Manuscript Publisher, and available to buy online.

The Truth about the Irish Civil War

Author and historian, Jack Kiernan offers a somewhat different view, not just of Collins but of the Irish Civil War (1922-1923), which will come across as radically at variance and even at odds with what many people would like to believe to be the case.

His book Why Did They Lie? The Irish Civil War, the Truth, Where and When it All Began, delves into hitherto unknown aspects of Ireland’s Civil War, including Michael Collins, who gets a chapter to himself. His is a candid assessment, not exactly flattering but a welcome one for the manner in which it ignites debate about certain troubled, murky aspects of Irish history that remain unanswered or unresolved to this day.

Why Did They Lie? The Irish Civil War, the Truth, Where and When it All Began by Jack Kiernan is published under the imprint of The Manuscript Publisher and available to buy online, in print and e-book editions.

The Dawning of the Day

Last but not least, The Dawning of the Day by Liam Nevin is a sweeping epic of interweaving tales following the lives, loves, trials and tribulations of three families, set against the backdrop of a turbulent decade in Irish history (the Decade of Centenaries, commencing with the 1913 Lockout and concluding with the Irish Civil War and the establishment of an Irish Free State) and one of great upheaval the world over.

In the following passage, taken from the Foreword to the book, the author describes what motivated and prompted him to undertake what is his most ambitious work to date:

I never remembered being taught much about that time when I was at school in the sixties. It was probably too painful or too embarrassing for those who lived through it. Most history books went only as far as the Anglo-Irish War, when Ireland had ‘won her freedom’. I remember the enmity that existed between neighbours when I was growing up in the fifties and sixties. I struggled to understand why some families were for and others against the Treaty of 1921. My research would lead me to the answer.

The Dawning of the Day by Liam Nevin is published under the imprint of The Manuscript Publisher and available to buy online, in print and e-book editions.