The subject of this obituary; Seamus was a son of James
Lennon T.D.E. mentioned in the "War of Independence" reports.
28 April 2005
The Late Seamus Lennon
As a man who took the highest pride in his Irishness,
particularly his love of the native language, it was highly appropriate that
Seamus (Shem) Lennon, Pembroke, Carlow, should pass away on St. Patrick’s
Shem, aged 84, died on March 17 at Carlow District
Hospital, where he had been a patient for some three weeks, having been
previously hospitalised at Aut Evan Hospital, Kilkenny. He had been in
failing health since late 2004.
A native of Cournellan, Borris, Co. Carlow, Shem Lennon
was born into a political family. His father James Lennon was Sinn Fein TD,
who was elected as a member for Carlow to the first Dail in 1919.
But while deep political interest was unavoidable for
Shem, he never took any active part in party politics throughout his life.
He went on to become an excellent teacher with a deep love for the Irish
language - Irish and history being his chosen university subjects and the
subjects which he taught primarily at second level throughout a long and
distinguished teaching career.
The eldest of a family of six boys and one girl, Shem
attended Inch National School, Borris and St. Mary’s College, Knockbeg,
before going on to third level education at University College Dublin, from
where he graduated in 1944.
Following graduation, he taught briefly at two County
Kilkenny primary schools- in Skeoughvosteen and Baunafea before going to
teach, in a temporary capacity, at St. Kieran’s College, Kilkenny.
There followed secondary teaching stints for Shem in
Birmingham and Hichin, Hertfordshire.
From 1949 to 1951 Shem undertook a teaching sojourn in
Africa, being based in Accra, the Ghanean capital.
Returning to Ireland in 1951 he took up her first
permanent teaching position at Carmelite College, Moate, County Westmeath,
where he remained until 1964.
In 1959 Shem married Delia Deegan from Borris in The
Church of The Cathedral of the Assumption, Carlow and the spent the fist
five years of married life in Moate.
It was back to his native Carlow in 1964 when Shem was
appointed to the teaching staff at St. Mary’s College, Knockbeg, where he
was to remain until his retirement in 1986, returning proudly for the next
year when invited back by the college management for substitute duties.
Acknowledged as a very fine teacher, Shem Lennon was
noted for his ability to impart knowledge to his students, the great
tolerance he showed towards them, and the fair balance of attention he gave
to each individual student.
Since his passing many past pupils, particularly of
Knockbeg, have spoken of their tremendous regard for him as a teacher and a
A fluent Irish speaker, Shem transmitted his love of
the language to his three sons and family conversations were often through
the medium of Irish.
A very well-read man, Shem was a close follower of
national and international politics and of current affairs.
He was a deeply religious man who served as a member of
the Graiguecullen Chapter of St. Vincent de Paul for 20 years. Shem also
served loyally for 25 years on the board of management of Askea Boys
National School, being treasurer of the board.
Shem Lennon had a life long interest in sport. The GAA
was his first sporting love. While he never played Gaelic games he was a
lifelong supporter and a regular patron down the years at matches in Dr.
Cullen Park as well as attending major GAA fixtures at many Leinster venues.
The tricolour flew at half mast at Carlow GAA
headquarters on Sunday, March 20, the day Shem was laid to rest, as a mark
of respect to this fine gael.
In 1944 he cycled to Athy for the Carlow-Dublin
Leinster SFC final and down the years had attended many All-Ireland hurling
and football finals in Croke Park.
A man with deep knowledge of our native games, Shem was
regarded as a first class analyst of GAA matches.
He also played golf and during his time in the midlands
was, in 1957, appointed captain of Moate Golf Club. His three sons are
A talented table tennis player, Shem was unbeatable in
the Lennon household in Cournellan when the family was growing up.
One anecdote concerning table-tennis is that Ted Joyce
would cycle out at weekends from Borris to take on Shem at the game.
Ted is one of the few surviving members of Carlow’s
winning Leinster SFC side of 1944- he played corner back - and was among the
large attendance at his good friend’s funeral.
Another sporting memory concerns a trip by Shem to
Dalymount Park with his eldest son, Seamus, a self confessed soccer fanatic.
The occasion was the visit to Dublin of the great Santos team from Brazil,
but Shem went to see the team’s No 10 Pele - by common consent the greatest
soccer player ever.
It was an occasion Shem greatly enjoyed.
This week Shem’s widow Delia echoed the general
consensus about her husband when describing him as "a gentle gentleman who
never offended anyone".
His first priority was always to his family and it is
his wife, sons, his beloved grandchildren and other relatives, who will feel
most deeply the huge void left by his passing.
The remains were removed from Healy’s Funeral Home,
Carlow to the Cathedral of the Assumption on Saturday March 19, where they
were received by Fr. Sean Kelly, PP Stradbally, Co. Laois, Shem’s first
Fr. Moling Lennon, Shem’s brother, was chief celebrant
at the Funeral Mass on Sunday, which was attended by some 25 priests. The
attendance included the Bishop of Kildare & Leighlin, Jim Moriarty.
In a homily during Mass, Shem’s son Seamus paid tribute
to his father, based on a written tribute penned by his father’s brother
Sean, who lives in France. The central aspects of the homily dealt with Shem
as a fine family man, mentioning the things he achieved in life, and his
Fr. Moling reflected on Shem’s career as a teacher and
on the other noble qualities he brought to his life.
During Mass symbols of Shem’s life were brought to the
altar by his grandchildren his cap, walking stick, and Irish book and a
Carlow GAA programme.
Two days after Shem’s death, Knockbeg regained the
Leinster Colleges SFC ‘A’ after a lapse of 50 years an achievement in which
Shem Lennon would have taken great pride. The cup was left beside the coffin
during the Funeral Mass, while team members formed a guard of honour outside
Readings during Mass were by Shem’s son Seamus and
grandchild Sarah, who read in Irish.
Burial took place immediately afterwards in St. Mary’s
Cemetery, Carlow, with Fr. Moling reciting the final prayers at the
Those present at the funeral included Eddie Byrne,
Cournellan, Chairman Carlow Co. Board GAA, County Secretary Tommy O’Neill,
Tom Kennedy, a life long friend of Shem’s from Cournellan and chairman of
the Dr. Cullen Park Committee, and Odran Seely, Oifigeach Gaelach with the
Carlow Co. Board.
Shem is survived by is wife, Delia, sons Seamus
(Dublin), Tomas (Carlow) and Moling (Carlow), brothers Sean (Nice France),
Martin (Cournellan), Joe (Cournellan), Padraig (Borris), Fr Moling, P.P.
Naas and sister Mrs Aine Murphy, Rathoe, Carlow.
His is also survived by his grandchildren Sarah,
Rebecca, James, Amy and Stephen. daughters-in-law Therese, Geraldine and
Mary, sisters-in-law Maureen, Josephine (Jo), Suzanne, as well as nephews,
nieces, relatives and many friends.
- Courtesy of the Nationalist
- By Charlie Keegan
- 1st April 2005
Source: Michael Purcell