War of Independence veteran and Free State general Sean Mac Eoin unsuccessfully claimed for a Mediterranean cruise to help heal his war wounds, Military Service Pensions Collection files reveal.
Mac Eoin was one of the most prominent IRA commanders in the midlands during the War of Independence and was sentenced to death for the murder of an RIC inspector in March 1921. The sentence was later commuted.
Mac Eoin supported the treaty side in the Civil War and rose to become chief of staff in the Free State Army. He later went on to become a Fine Gael TD and government minister.
He successfully claimed that the chronic bronchitis he suffered from in his later years was a result of a gunshot wound to the chest incurred in May 1921.
In July 1954, the Pensions Board stated that he was entitled to six weeks convalescence in a warm climate, either in the south of France or the east coast of Spain. In correspondence Mac Eoin said treatment for his condition was described as “sun and more sun.”
The Irish Times, in a report on what the files revealed, said that in 1961 Mac Eoin submitted an invoice for £181 (€5,000 today) for a Mediterranean cruise following a recurrence of a chest complaint.
The board turned it down on the basis that a cruise “can hardly be regarded as treatment in a hospital, nursing home or other like institution.”
Mac Eoin appealed unsuccessfully on the grounds that a cruise ship could be interpreted as a “like institution” under the Army Pensions Act, 1927, and that it could be interpreted as “sun treatment.”
In addition, the request was turned down on the basis that Mac Eoin had gone on the cruise without official sanction.
Eventually he got an ex-gratia payment for the cost of the cruise as part of an “entirely exceptional arrangement.”
In 1966 he unsuccessfully claimed for a stay in San Bernardino, California, as part of his treatment.
Mac Eoin’s files were released along with those of 882 other veterans of the Irish rebellion last month as part of a release from the Military Pensions Archive Collection.