After teaching himself to read and write, Sean Etchingham became a journalist in his native Wexford, reporting on sporting and political events. He became a supporter of Sinn Féin and the labour movement, establishing the Trade and Labour League in Wexford and southern Leinster. Etchingham was also prominent in the Gaelic League, the GAA and the Irish Volunteers, where he was an officer in the 3rd Battalion of the North Wexford brigade. A leading figure in the occupation of Enniscorthy during the Easter Rising, he was court martialled and sentenced to death, a punishment which was reduced to five years imprisonment. He contracted tuberculosis whilst serving time in Lewes and Dartmoor prisons, and was released in June 1917 on health grounds. He was elected as a TD for East Wicklow in 1918, and a year later was appointed Minister for Fisheries, although he spent much of the War of Independence years on the run. He spoke passionately against the Anglo-Irish Treaty during the Dáil debates on the matter, but ended up losing his seat in Wexford when he ran as an anti-Treaty candidate in the 1922 election. He died a year later in April 1923, his health having never fully recovered from his periods in prison.
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