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|WO71 351||Heuston, Seán/J. J. (prisoner 46); O'Dea, W. (prisoner 47); Kelly, P. (prisoner 48); Crenigan, J. (prisoner 49)||22 April 1916 - 6 May 1916|
File relates to the field general courtmartial of: Seán Heuston [Fianna Éireann, Irish Republican Brotherhood; Irish Volunteers]; W. O'Dea; P. Kelly; J. Crenigan. The courtmartial was held on the 4th of May 1916 at [Richmond Barracks, Dublin] and was presided over by Colonel E. W. S. K. Maconchy (president), Lieutenant Colonel A. M. Bent and Major F. W. Woodward. Charge against all four was that 'he did an act to wit did take part in an armed rebellion and in the waging of war against His majesty the King such act being of such a nature as to be calculated to be prejudicial to the Defence of the Realm and being done with the intention and for the purpose of assisting the enemy'. All four defendants pleaded not guilty to the said charge, but were found guilty. Heuston, O'Dea and Kelly were sentenced to 'Death' and Crenigan '2 years imprisonment recommended to mercy on account of youth'. O'Dea and Kelly's sentences were commuted to three years penal servitude by General J. G. Maxwell, and note on their findings reads 'recommended to mercy. Misled'. Heuston's death sentence was confirmed, no details of his execution [8 May 1916] are included in the file.
Witness statements are contained in the file and include the following: Witness for the prosecution Captain A.W. McDermott, Dublin fusiliers stated 'On the 26th of April I was present when the Mendicity Institution was taken by assault by a party of the 10th Batn R. Dublin Fusiliers. 23 men surrendered on that occasion. I identify the four prisoners J. J. Heuston, W. O'Dea, P. Kelly and J. Crenigan as having been in the body of men who surrendered... '. Second witness for the prosecution Lieutenant W. P. Connolly, Dublin Fusiliers stated '... I was present when the building was searched and I found arms and ammunition in it and also the documents now before the court. (see below for details of said documents)... Among the arms there were some old German Mausers. Among the ammunition were two cardboard boxes of "Spange" German ammunition'. On cross examination by Heuston, Lieutenant Connolly stated 'I cannot say exactly where I found the message books but they were in the building.'
In his defence, W. O'Dea stated 'I was perfectly ignorant of what was going to occur. I understood it was an ordinary route march when I was called out as we had been told... the best equipped Company was to get a prize at the Easter Manoeuvers... I turned up in full uniform but I took it off when we were about to surrender'. J. J. Heuston stated '... The order from Connelly addressed to "Captain Houston" is not addressed to me as my name is "Heuston"... ' P. Kelly stated 'I did not know anything about the rebellion beforehand or what I was coming out for... I thought it was manoeuvers. I did not fire any shots'. J. Crenigan stated 'I did not know what I was called out for. I thought it was for manoeuvers. I am 16 years old.'
File contains the documents referred to above and marked as 'Exhibits in Houston Case'. These include an order on headed paper Army of the Irish Republic (Dublin Command) signed by James Connolly to Captain Houston [sic], directing him to 'Seize the mendicity at all costs' (24 April 1916, 1p). Also documents which roster men in the building for duties in different areas at certain times which include the following 'N.B. Above men must sleep in top floor room with full equipment'. List of men are as follows: J. Crenigan; J. Brennan; Peter Wilson; G. Levers; J. Marks; James Wilson; J. Byrne; F. Cullen; W. Wilson; J. Pepper; R. Balfe; W. Stains; J. Norton; Jack Wilson; E. Roche; John Clarke; D. Kelly; J. Derrington.
File also contains two Field report pads with copy messages mainly from Sean Heuston. These messages include the following: Message dated 26 April 1916 from Seán Heuston to Quarter Master Stains, sent from the Mendicity 'Can you arrange for somebody to see after wife and children of Tom Kelly 53 Harold Road?'. Message dated 25 April 1916 from Seán Heuston to [James] Connolly, sent from the Mendicity 'Still here with 13 men Very little enemy activity... Enemy groups sentries patrolling Benburb St, Blackhall Place John St. Queen St Have you any special instructions or news?'.