On the 34th anniversary of the death of IRA volunteer Seamus McIlwaine,Tyrone republican Sean Bresnahan shared his thoughts.
At the beginning of the 1960s, Óglach Seamus McElwain was born into the hard lands of Tydavnet, County Monaghan, in the townland of Knockacullion near Scotstown.
Growing up in an area beset by the worst vestiges of Partition, pinned down beneath the weight of the British Government’s occupation of the North and its destructive effects on the border area, of which it was part, he knew and understood the causes of conflict and strife in Ireland.
He joined Óglaigh na hÉireann at 16 and from that day forward took the war to the British Occupation. Indeed it has been said of Seamus that, for the British, he was the most feared IRA Volunteer in all of the South Ulster region. Such was their fear that enemy soldiers along the border carried his picture on the butts of their rifles.
And yet for his friends and family, his comrades too, he was a modest and unassuming man — though one who bore the steely conviction that he must fight for his country. And fight he did.
34 years on from his death on Active Service, killed in action by British Special Forces near Roslea, 26th April 1986, the Republic for which Seamus died has yet to be achieved. It remains for us, the Irish people, to complete the work he had set for himself: the Irish Republic and nothing less.
The great American President, John Kennedy, once said, ‘men are not afraid to die for a life worth living’. ‘The Bold McElwain’ laid down his life that we might know such a thing.
As Sands before him had famously said, ‘our revenge will be the laughter of our children’. In that Republic for which they died, with our children, we will at last as a people know freedom. That is the only fitting tribute to such heroes and, at the finish, no less will suffice.
Where the story of Ireland’s freedom is told, the name McElwain will be there. A soldier he lived; a soldier to the end — rest in peace ‘Bold Seamus’. While Ireland holds your grave.
Sean Bresnahan is an independent Republican from Co. Tyrone who
blogs @ Claidheamh Soluis. Follow Sean Bresnahan on Twitter @bres79