SEÁN P. Ó SÉAGHDHA, ADVOCATE FOR THE IRISH LANGUAGE
Máire Mac Conghail, B.A., F.I.G.R.S., F.A.G.I.
Seán P. Ó Séaghdha, (birth registered, John Patrick), was born 7 July 1887 in Cork City, the first born of James O’Shea, a compositor/printer, and his wife Mary “Minnie” O’Brien. James must have experienced a ‘downturn’ in employment, as the family was resident in Birmingham, England, by early 1899. Within a year James was dead– December 1899 – at the young age of 40, leaving his family impoverished. Seán P. assisted his mother financially by initially working as an errand boy, then as a railway clerk while educating himself at night classes. Through Conradh na Gaeilge/Gaelic League in Birmingham he learnt to read, write, and speak Irish and was active in cultural, educational, and sporting happenings, including cricket, in Birmingham.
By 1909 he was using an Irish form of his name and surname and, as a committee member of The ’82 Committee, Birmingham, was one of the members from whom one could have bought a ticket to A Grand Irish Concert held in Birmingham Wednesday 3rd November 1909.
Kathleen Kehilly of Cooleenagow, Dunmanway, Co. Cork, employed as a clerk, was a lodger in the O’Shea household in Birmingham in 1910-11.
Seán went to Dublin, obtained a position, or a transfer, as a railway clerk with the Great Northern Railway Co., lodged at the GNR employees’ residence on Seville Place, Dublin City and traveled to Dunmanway to marry Kathleen on 5 October 1912:
The above image, which is a copy of the original, shows, how, expecting their marriage to be registered in Irish, proved vexing. Furthermore, the printed General Register Office (GRO) Index of Marriages 1912 includes his reference under the surname Sweeney; the (GRO) searchable database and images of historic marriage records, accessible on www.irishgenealogy.ie does not include the image but refers to a transcript of the image.[ Further information on Seán P. Ó Séaghdha (1887-1971) https://www.ainm.ie and www.militaryarchives.ie Bureau of Military History, Witness Statement 760]