It was with great sadness that the Communist Party of Ireland learnt of the death of Comrade John Meehan of Cloongowla West, Ballinrobe, Co. Mayo. We offer our deepest sympathy to his family and friends.
John was a lifelong member of our party. Like tens of thousands of our people, he was forced to leave our country in the 1950s to seek work and earn a living in Britain. While there he joined and was active in the Connolly Association and also the Communist Party of Great Britain, and was an active trade unionist in that country.
He returned to Ireland in the late 1960s and joined the Irish Workers’ Party, forerunner of the reunited CPI. He was also a founder-member of the Jim Gralton Labour History Society.
John owned a smallholding at Cloongowla, outside Ballinrobe, while at the same time working for Mayo County Council. He was a champion of the interests of small farmers in the west of Ireland and was a leading organiser of small farmers and working people in his county and along the western seaboard in opposing membership of the EEC (Common Market) in 1973. He travelled extensively round the country pointing out the dangers that membership posed to the tens of thousands of small family farmers.
John retained his trade union membership, representing his fellow-workers in Mayo County Council as well as workers throughout Co. Mayo. Many county managers felt his biting criticism and his keen negotiating skill. He was elected to the Executive Council of the Irish Transport and General Workers’ Union, later SIPTU, on many occasions, despite being a well-known communist and against the opposition of the Labour Party clique that dominated both union leaderships. He was a thorn in the side of many of the general officers, at most times a lone voice defending the independence of the union and opposing “social partnership.”
John was a man who was very well read and mostly self-educated. When he visited Dublin he would always visit New Books (later Connolly Books) to stock up on books and other reading material, keeping himself abreast of national and world events.
John Meehan was a man of his own place and his own people, never forgetting who he was or where he came from, firmly rooted in the soil of Co. Mayo.
We salute his memory as we acknowledge the passing of one of the last of that generation of rural communists who paid a heavy price for upholding the red banner of communism, the banner of labour.