Liam Heron (b. 1934)
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Liam Heron (b. 1934)


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James Joseph Heron was born in Carlow town and when he was four years old the family moved to the North Strand in Dublin. Liam Heron knows very little about his father’s early life, though James’s first cousin, champion diver Eddie Heron, used to visit the family home and Liam picked up information from him. James and Eddie had been imprisoned together at Ballykinlar Internment Camp in Donegal. James ‘Jimmy’ Heron joined the Irish Volunteers in 1914, and for three weeks prior to Easter Week 1916 he was training with the 1st Battalion ‘F’ Company in Dublin. On Easter Monday he was at the races in Fairyhouse, and Liam remarks that he remembers seeing in the house the stub of the train ticket used on that trip. On his return from the races Jimmy discovered that the Rising had begun, and he proceeded to the GPO where he was given a shotgun and was to spend the night. He was then sent to the Imperial Hotel with Frank Thornton. Liam knows that Jimmy was one of the younger men involved, as he was only 18 years old at that time. His group stayed at the Imperial Hotel (the site of Clerys department store) until the Friday of that week, when the building went up in flames. The men, under the command of William Brennan-Whitmore, escaped as far as Cumberland Street, and among them was Noel Lemass who was injured on capture. Liam explains that his father spoke very little about these events. He knows that somebody informed the police of the men’s location in a basement in Cumberland Street prior to their capture. Jimmy Heron was taken to Richmond Barracks and later transferred to Frongoch. On his release in August 1916 he did not rejoin the Volunteers. His mother was now a widow and was infirm, and his sister Molly was on Michael Collins’s staff, acting as a secretary. Other family members were a younger brother, Jack, and two sisters, Freddy and Maddy. Liam remembers Molly as a jolly person who was quite religious. She and her sister Maddy worked in Kennedys, the bakers. Jimmy was arrested on a tram in 1920 and imprisoned at Ballykinlar, though Liam does not know the reason for his arrest. He favoured Fine Gael though he took no active part in politics. Liam recounts an anecdote told to him by Liam Cosgrave. Liam’s brother Jim, who was a Captain in the Army, has their father’s medals. At one time, Liam would wear the medals at the annual commemorative Mass in Fingal. Jimmy Heron was a member of the LDF during the Emergency. Liam explains that he is the oldest of ten children, and that butchering was the family occupation. His mother’s surname was Howard and her family was from Swords. As far as Liam is aware, Jimmy did not keep in touch much with his 1916 comrades. His group was from the city centre and not from Fingal where Jimmy lived, so not many opportunities arose for meetings. Liam describes some photographs of his father, and his uniform, and he explains that he discovered much of the detail of his father’s history from his application for the Old IRA Pension. When he was younger Liam had no interest in history and did not ask his father any questions about his past. Now that he is older he is trying to find out more and would like his father to take his place in history. He remembers that Jimmy had a bone carving featuring a harp and a wolfhound, and feels that this may have been fashioned in Ballykinlar. Jimmy Heron is buried in Swords. Liam quotes a few lines of poetry that he has had engraved to his parents’ headstone [from ‘The Glories of Our Blood and State’, a poem by James Shirley.] Jimmy Heron was a member of the Old IRA Commemoration Society for many years. His son explains that a firing party was present at his funeral, a bugler played The Last Post and the Tricolour was draped over the coffin.

Additional information


Disk, MP3

Audio series:

The 1916 Rising Oral History Collections


128 kbps

Download time limit:

48 hours

File size(s):

35.58 MB

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Jimmy Heron (Interviewee’s father)

Recorded by:

Maurice O’Keeffe – Irish Life and Lore