Father Sean McManus returns to Boston to launch memoir

Posted By: June 07, 2011

By Toni Earls

President of the Irish National Caucus Father Sean McManus will be in
Boston to launch his memoir My American Struggle for Justice in
Northern Ireland on Wednesday June 8th. The event will be hosted by
the Ancient Order of Hibernians (AOH) and will take place at the AOH
Hall in Watertown, MA.

Fr. McManus’ memoir has been launched in Dublin, Belfast, Bellaghy,
and Washington to a wonderful reception, being called: “probably the
most significant memoir in the historiography of Irish-American
nationalism since Recollections of an Irish Rebel by John Devoy” by
the Washington Irish Committee.

Fr. McManus came to the United States in October of 1972 and went on
to effect momentous change working within his Special Ministry as part
of the Irish National Caucus and laboring to involve the US in the
Northern Ireland peace process. Speaking to the Irish Emigrant, Fr.
McManus said that the US relationship to the peace process was never
easy, but it was vital to its success:

“From the beginning, American involvement has been tricky, but it was
integral to the process. I don’t believe it would have succeeded
without American intervention. I think that is why the British
government was so resistant to it at first. Now they’re pleased with
it though.” He went on to say that although things have absolutely
changed for the better, the process of reconciliation is by no means
over: “we still have a long way to go.”

Fr. McManus, a native of Kinawley, Co. Fermanagh, was born in 1944,
the tenth of twelve children. He grew up in a place divided by the
border between Northern Ireland and the Republic of Ireland. Talking
about his separation of his hometown, Fr. McManus told the ‘Emigrant,
“You can imagine how seeing such a division as a small child affected
me. It wasn’t just a division of my country; it was a division of my
town, of my home.”

From an early age, Fr. McManus was keenly aware of the effect that
the division had on his town, his country, and his life. He lost his
brother Patrick in 1958 when the IRA bomb he was transporting
exploded. Later, when Fr. McManus was serving in Scotland, he went
back to Northern Ireland to take part in an anti-internment
demonstration and was arrested for his activity in 1971.

Fr. McManus is looking forward to returning to Boston, the city in
which he served in a parish for his last three years before moving to
Washington, D.C. He told the ‘Emigrant: “As you know, it is impossible
for an Irishman to feel out of place in Boston.”

Remembering his last visit to Boston, Fr. McManus said: “Well,
surprisingly, it was quite a while ago. The last time I was up in
Boston I was organizing a protest against Boston College awarding
Maggie Thatcher their Ignatius Medal [in 1995]. I don’t know if they
posted it to her but it she didn’t come over here anyway!”

Fr. McManus enjoyed the time he spent serving in Boston immensely: “I
served at Mission Church from 1975-1978. I loved Mission Church.” He
worked as prefect of the school and was particularly pleased with the
way the parish was “totally integrated…it wasn’t just Irish. People of
all sorts were there together.”

This togetherness is incredibly important to Fr. McManus, who believes
in equality for all people above all and has shown that through his
tireless efforts against injustice. He told the ‘Emigrant, “I believe
that racism/sectarianism is a form of mental disease that causes
otherwise normal folk to do stupid things.” He believes that through
education and helping people to overcome their fear, things can
continue to change for the better in the US, Ireland, and around the