Skibbereen & District Historical Society recently undertook the refurbishment of the headstone to Seán Ó Murthuile & his wife, Máire, in Leap Graveyard. Fr. Patrick O’Sullivan, PP, performed the blessing.
Seán Ó Murthuile was born at Keamore, Leap, in 1881. In 1911 he was employed as a postman. Shortly thereafter he became a Timire for Connradh na Gaeilge and was appointed to East Kerry as an Irish teacher. He was later transferred to Limerick where he made the acquaintance of the Fenian O’Daly family. Through them he met Tom Clarke and Sean McDermott, architects of the 1916 Rising. Around this time he was inducted into the IRB.
For many years he was an Ollamh at Coláiste Chairbre Summer School along with Peadar Ó hAnnracháin, Gearóid Ó Súilleabháin and Mícheál Ó Cuilleanáin.
Along with his Connradh duties he became a Volunteer Organiser for the Limerick, Clare and Tipperary areas. In the week preceding the Easter Rising, Seán Ó Murthuile along with four other men were appointed to Brigade Staff by Seán McDermott to handle German arms from the Aud and carry out operations arising; an unsuccessful mission. He was deported to England subsequently as an enemy of the State.
On his return he continued as an official in the Gaelic League and Sinn Féin and IRA organiser until 1921. Seán Ó Murthuile joined the National Army in 1921 as one of its oldest Officers. He was quickly promoted to Quartermaster General and in 1922 was Bestman to Gearóid Ó Súilleabháin on his wedding to Maud Kiernan. He resigned from the Army at the time of the attempted coup in 1924. While in no way involved himself, he and other patriotic officers resigned to defuse the situation. He subsequently went to England where he worked until 1930.
He returned to Ireland with his wife, Mary Cox, a native of Roscommon, whom he married in England, to take up a position as manager of the Cork office of the Irish Hospitals Trust. He died, unexpectedly, aged 60 yrs. In June 1941. His funeral to Leap Graveyard was the largest ever seen in the village. His wife, Mary, was interred with him some years later.
An appreciation published in The Cork Examiner, two days after his death, was as comprehensive as it was complimentary to a man who had done so much to secure Ireland’s freedom.
Ar dheis Dé go raibh a anam uasal.