Seán MacEntee recalls the events that happened in Castlebellingham on Easter Monday. MacEntee fought in the GPO and took part in 'O'Rahilly's Charge' on Friday 28 April.
Seán MacEntee joined the Irish Volunteers in 1914. He was a member of the Dundalk Battalion, Louth Brigade Irish Volunteers. Very quickly he was promoted to Battalion Adjutant.
On Easter Monday, the Dundalk Battalion, entered the village of Castlebellingham to gather provisions. A short time before they had commandeered a number of cars from people coming back from Fairyhouse. While in the village they took a number of prisoners including three RIC constables and a British officer, Lieutenant Dunville. While getting his men ready to leave the village MacEntee recalls that he heard a gun shot. MacEntee did not see who fired but Lieutenant Dunville was wounded while Constable MaGee was killed.
Somehow MacEntee lost contact with his comrades and decided to go to Dublin. He got to Dublin on Wednesday 26 April and found himself fighting with a small garrison in the Imperial Hotel, directly opposite the General Post Office. They were forced to evacuate their position on Thursday. They made their way to the GPO where according to MacEntee they,
Got something to eat, were given a blanket and a mattress and told that we could sleep.
By Friday the GPO was completely surrounded by the military. The building was ablaze and beginning to collapse in on them. Later that day the decision was made to evacuate. 'The' O'Rahilly would lead an advance party of Volunteers out into Moore Street in order to get to Williams and Woods factory, Parnell Street and establish a new headquarters. MacEntee was among those chosen. As they turned into Moore Street they were surprised to find the British had complete command over the area.
We were charging up the street, trying to get up as far as we could but it was obvious after a little while that nothing could be done.
'The' O'Rahilly was fatally wounded. The Volunteers scattered and found shelter in some houses where they remained until Pearse surrendered the following day. MacEntee and his comrades were taken to the Rotunda. Seán MacEntee was later court martialed for the shooting of Constable Magee in Castlebellingham and was sentenced to death. The sentence was commuted to life imprisonment.
On his release from prison he rejoined the Volunteers. During the War of Independence MacEntee was Vice O/C Belfast Brigade IRA. He fought on the anti-Treaty side during the Irish Civil War and was a founding member of Fianna Fáil. During his political career he held many ministerial posts including Health, Finance and was also Tánaiste. Seán MacEntee died in 1984. He was ninety-five years old.
Seán MacEntee was interviewed for the television series 'Ireland A Television History' in 1979.