Remembering Sean Wall, War of Independence

By Janine Behan.

The Independence Memorial in Bruff, Co Limerick is dedicated to Brigadier Sean Wall (a native of the town), his fellow comrades in the East Limerick Brigade of the I.R.A. and to all volunteers who fought for the Irish Republic. The monument is an imposing structure consisting of a fifteen feet square base with an inscription in the Irish language. The republican struggle is symbolised by a seven feet tall figure of a volunteer in a trench coat and furnishing a revolver, while adopting a combat-like stance. This depiction of the volunteer in action reinforces the view that such men were engaged in a battle for Irish freedom.

This monument was originally designed in 1931 to commemorate activity which took place from 1920-21. (1) However, it was not until 1944 that the East Limerick Brigade formed a committee to raise funds for the statue’s erection, following the establishment of a committee, a further delay of eight years followed, before the monument was finally unveiled by President Sean T O’Kelly on 12 October 1952. (2)

The Sean Wall monument also details other significant nationalist struggles of 1690-91, 1798-1803 and 1867. The addition of an inscription in the national language, it could be argued, works to reinforce a sense of Irish identity by appealing to a sense of ‘dúchas’, providing an evocative call to one’s deepest roots.

(1) Department of Arts, Heritage and the Gaeltacht (date unknown), ‘Independence memorial, Main Street, Bruff, County Limerick’ in National Inventory of Architectural Heritage available:(http://www.buildingsofireland.ie/) (accessed on 14 Feb. 2015).

(2) Ibid., Limerick Leader, 11 October 1952.

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