Sean Heuston – Movement to Nationalism

Sean joined Fianna Éireann, the scouting club for boys revived by Bulmer Hobson and Countess Markievicz in August 1909. He organised an extremely active branch in Limerick which eventually had a membership of 250 boys. He devoted most of his spare time to the organisation: lecturing, drilling, marching and promoting a high level of proficiency in the boys under his command. It was in Limerick that he, too, became a member of the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB).

In 1913 he was transferred to Dublin by the GSWR and assigned to the traffic manager’s office at Kingsbridge railway station, now ironically Heuston station. He continued his work with Fianna Éireann where he met Con Colbert and Liam Mellows, both prominent in the organisation.

Heuston joined the Irish Volunteers soon after their formation in November 1913, eventually becoming a captain in Ned Daly’s 1st Battalion. He worked hard with his company, organising marches and field manoeuvres, fostering a spirit of commitment and camaraderie, and procuring arms and equipment by purchase and any other means at his disposal. On the occasion of the landing of arms at Howth in July 1914, he led a contingent of Fianna Eireann, bringing a consignment of guns safely back to Dublin in a trek-cart.

Records note that he must have led a double life.  By day he was, as ever, the diligent and trusted employee of the Great Southern and Western Railways; by night and at weekends, he was spending his time training the rank-and-file on quasi- military marches in the surrounding Dublin Hills.  His rise through the ranks of the Na Fianna Éireann and the Volunteers was considered to be phenomenal. He was given command of a branch in the north side of the city based in Hardwick Hall and promoted to vice-commandant of the Dublin Brigade and also became director of training by 1915. Colbert and Patrick Pearse engaged him for Saint Enda’s, where he provided training in drill and musketry for the students.