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Carlow County - Ireland Genealogical Projects (IGP TM)

Seamus Lennon (1921-2005)


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 Day.

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 person.

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 accomplished golfers.

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 cousin.

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 Irishness.

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 the Cathedral.

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 graveside.

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

Source: (The Nationalist. Date December 1983 from the Nolan Newspaper cuttings provided by Mr. M Purcell.)

The information contained in these pages is provided solely for the  purpose of sharing with others researching their ancestors in Ireland.
© 2001 Ireland Genealogy Projects, IGP TM

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