Five sisters of executed 1916 leader Seán Mac Diarmada received pensions

Garda commissioner asked to make ‘discreet inquiries’ about one sibling’s identity

Sean MacDermott

Sean MacDermott

 

The five sisters of executed Easter Rising leader Seán Mac Diarmada all received pensions after his death, the military pensions archives reveal.

Mac Diarmada was one of the seven signatories of the Proclamation and, along with Tom Clarke, one of the chief instigators of the Rising.

Mac Diarmada’s siblings emigrated en masse to the US, with the exception of his sister Maggie, who remained in the family home in Kiltyclogher, Co Leitrim. She wrote to the Department of Defence in June 1937 to say she’d read in the Irish Press newspaper that a new army Bill allowed for pensions to be paid to the sisters of the 1916 Proclamation signatories. “I never heard a thing about it until I saw it on the paper. I never got a penny. I expect I should be entitled to it as he always helped me while he was alive,” she wrote.

In order for her to receive a pension, she had to verify her identity. The matter was so sensitive that Garda commissioner Eamon “Ned” Broy was asked by the minister for defence to make “discreet inquiries”, without approaching Mrs McDermott (she was also married to a McDermott), as to whether or not she truly was the sister of Seán Mac Diarmada.

£100 a year

His other sisters in the US – Rose, Catherine, Bridget (Bessie) and Mary Anne – also received £100 a year each.