Sean MacEoin (general)

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Sean MacEoin
Rank Lieutenant general

Lieutenant General Sean MacEoin (1910–1998), also known as John McKeown, was an Irish Defence Force officer.

Early life

MacEoin on was born in the Cooley Peninsula in Co Louth. He was a nephew of the Blacksmith of Ballinalee, Sean Mac Eoin (aka John Joseph McKeon)[1]

Military career

He joined the Irish Army as a cadet in 1930.[2]

He served as a battalion commander during The Emergency. After the war, he held appointments in infantry and cadet school. He was appointed commandant of the Irish Military School in 1957. In January 1960, he was appointed the Irish Defence Forces Chief of Staff. He was the first graduate of the Irish Military School to have the role.[3]

In 1961, he was appointed Force Commander of the United Nations Operation in the Congo, which was considered a great honor for the Irish Defence Forces, commanding it during some of the fiercest fighting of the Congo Crisis. He found himself in command of 20,000 troops of different nationalities including Irish, Swedish, Indians, Ethiopians and Ghanians, among which he was held in high regard. U Thant, the United Nations Secretary General said General MacEoin had "discharged his "duties with eminence"[4] and he was awarded a Distinguished Service Medal. On his return to Ireland, he took over his role as Chief of Staff of the Defence Forces. The emergence of The Troubles in 1969 left the Irish Army somewhat overstretched, he retired as chief of staff of the Irish Defence Forces in 1971.

Death and legacy

MacEoin died at his home in Dublin in 1998, aged 88. The removal was from his residence to Good Shepherd Church, Churchtown, Dublin on 31 July, arriving at 6 p.m. The funeral Mass took place on 1 August at 11 a.m. and he was buried at Bothar na Breinne, Rathfarnham. He had three sons, Tom, John, Peter and a daughter Marie[5]


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