Coen joined the IRA and served with the Sligo Brigade and was a member of the Southern Command. In 1971, Coen was imprisoned in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin where he was jailed with fellow republican Dan Hoban.
At the age of 28, Coen was killed by a British Army soldier while on active service at Cassidy's Cross near Kinawley, County Fermanagh, Northern Ireland close to the Cavan/Fermanagh border on 20 January 1975. The CAIN Sutton Index lists him as being shot during an attempted bus hijacking. However, republican sources state he was shot on the main Swanlinbar-Enniskillen road by undercover British troops in an unmarked civilian car, who opened fire at an IRA checkpoint.
"He felt strongly that the nationalist people of the Six Counties should not have to fight the war for freedom on their own... Kevin felt that the people of the North should not be left alone... One thing is clear - republicans are sincere that the Irish people should live and work together as Kevin did with his neighbours - but the intruder in Irish affairs must withdraw so that lasting freedom and peace can be brought about in Ireland."
The East Sligo Cumann of Sinn Féin is named the Coen/Savage Cumann and the Sligo Cumann of Republican Sinn Féin is named the The Noble Six/Kevin Coen Cumann in honour of Coen and they both hold an annual commemoration at his graveside.
- Kevin Coen
- Malcolm Sutton. "CAIN: Sutton Index of Deaths". CAIN. Retrieved 2007-05-29.
- Tírghrá. National Commemoration Centre. 2002. p. 160. ISBN 0-9542946-0-2.
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- Ninth annual Joe McManus/Kevin Coen lecture - Adams slams faceless securocrats
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- ""Kevin Coen anniversary"". Sligo Champion. Retrieved 13 January 2008.