The Sinking of the R.M.S. Leinster

People on board

Timothy Heenan

HEENAN, Timothy

Timothy Heenan was born on the 15th of October 1892 in Oakley Park, Clareen near Birr in County Offaly. He was the second of the six children, and eldest son, of Patrick Heenan and Sarah Mooney. Patrick was a Farmer and Blacksmith, as had been his father before him. The family moved to nearby Bell Hill, Patrick’s home place, in the mid-1890s. Sarah died in 1909 at the age of forty-eight.

In the 1911 census Timothy’s occupation was ‘Horse Shoer’, while one of his brothers was a ‘Rural Postman’ and the other a ‘Telegraph Messenger’. Timothy enlisted with the Southern Irish Horse and by 1918 had the rank of ‘Shoeing Smith Corporal’. The S.I.H. was attached to other regiments and in 1918 he was with the 7th (South Irish Horse) Battalion of the Royal Irish Regiment. Timothy Heenan served in France, possibly with the 7th Battalion, which suffered heavy casualties in early 1918.

He was presumably returning from leave on the 10th of October, along with three other members of the S.I.H. when RMS Leinster was torpedoed. He did not survive the sinking, nor was his body recovered. In November his uncle, James Heenan, then living in Ilford, Essex, wrote a letter to the King’s County Chronicle in which he deplored the German action in very strong words. He said that he had met his nephew just three weeks previously,”a picture of perfect Irish manhood, standing well over six feet in height, and built in proportion, reminding me of his cousin, the late Benicia Boy”. This latter was a reference to a cousin of an earlier generation, whose family had emigrated to the U.S. where he became a bare-knuckle prize fighter. James Heenan’s younger son John, and another cousin to Timothy, later became Catholic Archbishop of Westminster, and subsequently a Cardinal.

Timothy Heenan’s name is recorded on the Hollybrook Memorial in Southampton.



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