The Meehan Brothers & 'Dev' at Knock
The Meehan Family circa 1905
L-R. Back row: Patrick Joseph, MP, 1877-1929; Patrick Aloysius, MP, (the father) 1852-1913; Edward Peter, CM, 1880-1919; Joseph Lazarian 1883-1923. Middle row: Elizabeth Eileen (Blayney) 1887-1939; Mary Elizabeth (Bolger) 1879-1952; Honora (the mother) 1853-1929; William Conleth 1882-1947. Front row: Francis Richard 1889-1967; Thomas Francis 1884-1921.
The Mathematics Professor in the College Staff listing for 1910-11 was none other than Eamon De Valera, albeit then called Edward. Although only with us for a year, that short sojourn created a friendship that stood the test of time for 'Dev' returned as honoured guest to celebrate the College Centenary in 1936, and sent profuse apologies when government business precluded him from joining the 1946 Union Golden Jubilee Dinner. He made up for that by returning to officially open the new Junior School in 1969.
Perhaps he did so. to give thanks to the Meehan brothers?
Edward Meehan C.M., class '98 was Prefect of Studies at time when Dev taught at the Knock, and was SVC President by the time Dev faced the firing squad for his part in the Rising. Edward actively lobbied for clemency on Dev's behalf including directly petitioning the British Prime Minister Asquith, in a letter delivered by his brother, Patrick J. Meehan, who had succeeded their father as the Irish Parliamentary Party MP for the Maryboro constituency at Westminster.
The bona fides of the petitioners would have been no doubt greatly enhanced by the fact that a third brother, Joseph, class '99, was then serving at the front after leading the recruitment drive in Maryboro, as witnessed by the below report from the Freeman's Journal reproduced in the 1915 Chronicle:
Recruiting was brisk in Maryboro on Tuesday, several of the members of the Maryboro National Volunteers joining the colours, including the company's Captain Mr Joseph L. Meehan, TC, brother of Mr. P. J. Meehan, MP. A large and enthusiastic crowd, accompanied by the Volunteers Pipers' Band assembled at the railway station and gave a hearty send off to the recruits and others who were rejoining their regiments. Mr. Meehan is one of the most popular young men in the Midlands. A noted athlete, he is well-known in football circles, and during some years spent in Australia was captain of the Sydney football Club, and secured his cap for New South Wales in the Inter-State contests. He is a partner in the extensive business of his late father. Mr. P.A. Meehan, MP, and his joining the colours involves considerable personal sacrifice. While everyone appreciates Mr. Meehan's action, there is general regret at his departure from Maryboro.
All the brothers were strongly opposed to the 1916 executions which saw them like most of their fellow Redmondites, transfer allegiances to the emerging Sinn Fein. Patrick retired from politics to focus on legal defence of Republicans and Joe was interned in 1920 for his support of that cause. Edward was likely ahead of them as this from the Vincentian Necrology flags him as an early convert:
(Castleknock, 1919, aged 38) was born in 1880 in Maryboro, now Portlaoise, and according to the Centenary Record he was a pupil in Castleknock for ten years. In his final year, as head prefect, he refused to go down to the gate with the group to cheer Queen Victoria as she passed on her way to Lutrellstown Castle (I think I heard this from Alex McCarthy, who was a boy in the college at the time).
In all six Meehan's attended the College from Maryboro at the turn of the century: Patrick, '94; Edward, '98, Joseph, '99; William, '00; Thomas, '04 and Francis, '06. The present Stations of the Cross in the College Chapel was their gift in memory of Edward who died in 1919 whilst still President of the College.
None sent sons to Knock but three generations still followed.
Their nephew, the late Alec Blayney was class '36 and President of the Union in 1973.
His son was Alec Blayney is class '67 and is a first cousin of the Brennan brothers from Rathgar: Neil, class '65; Philip, class '69 and Richard, class '72. All four are grand-nephews of the Meehan brothers.
Neil in turn sent his son, Mark Brennan, class '99 who is the fourth generation of the family at Knock.