John Hearn Commemorated

John Hearn commemoration

The life of John Hearn, a merchant seaman from Ringsend, tragically lost at sea in 1940 was commemorated with the presentation of a plaque to his family at Dublin’s Mansion House. A deck boy aboard the merchant ship The Privet, John Hearn then aged 20 perished when his vessel inexplicably disappeared at sea.

The crew of two Newry registered ships, The Privet and The Walnut, with crews totalling 18 men lost their lives in 1940 and 1941. No trace of those men was ever found. The Privet was trading between Northern Ireland and England. The idea that the ships were involved in a war-related incident remains pure speculation because the facts have never emerged.

A commemoration held in Newry back on the 25th August included only 17 of the families of the men who died. Members of the Newry Maritime Association asked local Cllr Paddy McCartan who attended, if he could trace John Hearn’s relatives. Thus began a chain of events which culminated in families from both Newry and Dublin coming together to bring closure to an extremely sad episode for all those involved. Cllr McCartan said, “I gave them a pledge that I would endeavour to find the relatives of John Hearn. It was as a result of a letter published in NewsFour that three people contacted me; Therese Finnegan, Christy Pullen and May Kane.”

“It would have been very special for my mother who has passed away, she was John’s sister. It’s giving closure because it affected the family very deeply at the time,” Therese Finnegan commented.

Paul Poucher Chairman of the Newry Maritime Association said, “It’s a connection between Newry and Dublin for those who lost their lives. There are no barriers between sea faring families.”

The theme of commemoration continued as those present paused for a minute’s silence to honour prison officer David Black who was cruelly murdered recently in Northern Ireland.

By Rupert Heather