Sean Heuston - Dedicated Fianna Leader and Republican Martyr
Sean Heuston was born in Dublin on 21 February 1891, the son of a clerk. Like fellow Fian Con Colbert
, Heuston was educated at the Christian Brothers' School in North Richmond Street, Dublin. After his sixteenth birthday in 1907, he joined the Great Southern & Western Railway Company as a clerk. He was sent by this firm to their office in Limerick and in 1910 he joined Na Fianna Eireann
, the newly founded national scout organisation. He helped to organised a branch in the city and spent all his spare time helping to teach his boys.
After serving six years with the company in Limerick, he was transferred to the Traffic Manager's Office in Dublin's Knightbridge (now Heuston) Rail Station. It was there that he would meet Con Colbert and Liam Mellows
, two leading Fians. He was given charge of NFE Sluagh Robert Emmet. He was a natural leader and seemed to be inexhaustible. He was remembered by his comrades as working tirelessly at Fianna Headquarters at 12 D'Olier Street where he worked as Director of Training on details of organisation and recruit training.
As a young captain in the Volunteers during Easter Week, Sean Heuston commanded a stronghold at the Mendicity Institution. His troops were mostly Fians aged 14-17 years, inexperienced but as brave as any man. They were sent Easter Monday with the instructions to slow British advance to the GPO and the Four Courts for a few hours. A few hours turned into three days. James Connolly
had given orders to Heuston to hold up the British that were heading toward the Four Courts for 3 or 4 hours to allow the garrison there as well as at Headquarters to prepare their defences. Connolly found out later that Heuston not only held his position for the few hours specified, but was still there after nearly 50 hours, until he could hold out no longer.
On Easter Wednesday morning, April 20, 1916 two Volunteer dispatchers slipped through some very dangerous areas to bring an urgent message to James Connolly from Heuston. He required immediate backup, because he and 20 young men were still holding out against several hundred British troops, who had Heuston's men just about completely surrounded. A major assault was expected at any moment and supplies and food were almost totally depleted.
Connolly was quite excited by the tenacity and bravery shown by the young Fian patriots. Commandant Padraic Pearse
sent messengers back with the message that aid would be sent immediately to Heuston and his company. But almost immediately they found that it was nearly impossible to get that far unscathed and shortly after dawn on Thursday, Heuston and his remaining men had been captured.
Sean Heuston was shot on May 8 in Kilmainham Gaol Courtyard along with Con Colbert, Eamonn Ceannt
, and Michael Mallin
. His last message is recalled as being: "Remember me to the boys of the Fianna." He died with the dignity and courage of an Irish patriot.
*Supplementary information: Sean Heuston (Sean Mac Aodha)