Remembering Seán Heuston
The Irish Revolutionary Seán Heuston was executed in Kilmainham Gaol this day in 1916.
Heuston was born in Dublin on February 21st 1891 and educated by the Christian Brothers. He worked as a railway clerk in Limerick and while there took an active part in Fianna Éireann, of which he was an officer and also joined the IRB.
Seán Heuston arranged for members who could not afford to buy their uniforms to do so by paying small weekly sums.
Under his guidance, the Fianna in Limerick had a course which encompasses not only drilling, which was made up of signalling, scout training and weapons training but also lectures on Irish history and Irish classes.
Heuston joined the Irish Volunteers after his return to Dublin in 1913 to work at the GSWR depot at Kingsbridge (later renamed Heuston Station after him). Recalled by many as dapper and serious in intent, albeit with a good sense of humour, Heuston was the main breadwinner for his family, who now lived on Fontenoy St near Phibsborough.
Heuston was in charge of a company of the Dublin Brigade of the Volunteers based on Blackhall Place.
Heuston was the Officer Commanding of the Volunteers in the Mendicity Institution (now called Houston's Fort) on the south side of Dublin city. Acting under Orders from James Connolly, Heuston was to hold this position for three or four hours, to delay the advance of British troops.
Having successfully held the position for the specified period, he was to go on to hold it for over two days, with twenty-six Volunteers. With his position becoming untenable against considerable numbers, and the building almost completely surrounded, he sent a dispatch to Connolly informing him of their position.
The dispatch was carried by two Volunteers, P. J. Stephenson and Seán McLaughlin, who had to avoid both sniper fire and British troops across the city. It was soon after sending this dispatch that Heuston decided to surrender.
Heuston was transferred to Richmond Barracks, on May 4th 1916, he was tried by court-martial. On Sunday, May 7th 1916, the verdict of the court-martial was communicated to him that he had been sentenced to death and was to be shot at dawn the following morning.
Prior to his execution, he was attended by Father Albert, O.F.M. Cap in his final hours. Father Albert wrote an account of those hours up to and including the execution which included:
"Never did I realise that men could fight so bravely, and die so beautifully, and so fearlessly as did the Heroes of Easter Week. On the morning of Sean Heuston's death I would have given the world to have been in his place, he died in such a noble and sacred cause, and went forth to meet his Divine Saviour with such grand Christian sentiments of trust, confidence and love."
Seán Heuston was executed by firing squad in Kilmainham Gaol on the morning of May 8th 1916.
Fuair se bás ar son Saoirse na hÉireann