Seán Murray Marxist‐Leninist and Irish Socialist Republican by Seán Byers
The son of a small farmer Seán Murray – a brilliant student - had to leave school at 14 to work on his father’s farm. He became Commandant of the Antrim Battalion in the War of Independence and was captured by British forces in 1920. Following his release, he met Peadar O’Donnell for the first time in 1922 and they would become firm friends and comrades-in-arms during the Civil War. After the Civil War, he worked for a period in the London docks. When he came back to Ireland, he headed up the Irish Worker League which had been formed by Jim Larkin. He was a student at the Lenin International School in Moscow from 1928 to 1931; and on his return he became organiser of the Irish Workers' Revolutionary Groups. In June 1933, he was elected General Secretary of the newly formed Communist Party of Ireland, a position he held until 1940. He would also play a significant role in organising the Irish contingent of the International Brigades in the Spanish Civil War. Murray remained the Irish Communist Party’s national organiser from then until his death at the age of 63 in 1961.
A man of great intellect, he was also a prolific journalist, editor and pamphleteer. Byers biography shows how in the face of adversity – the coercive measures of the Unionist state and red scare tactics of Catholic Ireland – Murray left a significant imprint on Irish leftist politics through his work as an activist and organiser, a prolific writer, propagandist and theorist.