For The Irish Story, published 2 July 2020.
It was a grim, low-key farewell. On August 14th 1940, roughly 100 miles west off the Galway coast, an unconventional funeral was held for Seán Russell, the now-late Chief-of-Staff of the Irish Republican Army (IRA). At the time of his death, Russell was 46 years old.
On the instructions of the commander of the German U-Boat in which Russell had spent his final, torturous days, the vessel surfaced for a brief ceremony. Russell’s remains were subsequently buried in the Atlantic with full Naval honours – wrapped in a Nazi flag, so far removed from the normal rituals of an Irish republican burial of so many of his fallen comrades.