IRA Volunteer Sean Martin is at the centre of these panels in Beechfield Street, in the Short Strand, Belfast. The image in the apex of the house depicts his death in nearby Anderson Street (which no longer exists; roughly where Arran Street is). milltowncemetery.com (link now dead) reports that Sean Martin “was killed in April 1940 during a lecture on arms and a Millis hand grenade in a small terrace house in Anderson Street. In the course of the lecture Sean, who was giving the instruction, had dismantled the grenade, and was putting it together again. The detonator which he was using was thought to have been a dud one. In demonstrating how to throw the grenade, he pulled out the pin and released the lever. Hearing the hissing sound of the fuse he realised that the detonator was live and that the grenade was about to explode. He rushed to the window with the intention of throwing it out on to the street, but some children were playing outside. In the few seconds left to him, Sean had to make that terrible choice; shouting to the others to get out of the house – he pulled the grenade into himself with his two hands and leaned over the kitchen table with the grenade covered by his whole body. The device exploded and blew him right across the kitchen, killing him instantly. All the others escaped uninjured.” The Irish at the bottom reads “Grádh níos fearr ní raibh ag duine na a bheo a thabhairt ar son a chomrádaithe” – a translation of John 15:13.
Copyright © 2007 Peter Moloney