"Don't Let Them Get It"

Ina Connolly was born in  November 1896. Ina's first memories of her father was when her brother Roddy was born. The family were living in Pimlico, in the heart of the Liberties at the time. Over the next ten years the Connolly family lived in Dublin, America and Belfast.

In 1903 James Connolly went to New York and once he was settled sent for the family to join him. The Connolly's had six children, five girls and one boy. Mona, the Connolly's eldest child, was washing some clothes for the trip and while trying to move a saucepan of water that was on the range her apron caught fire. Mona suffered horrific burns and died on 4 August. She was thirteen years old. Connolly only learned of the death of his eldest daughter when the family arrived in New York.

The Connolly's remained in America for six years before it was decided they would come back to Ireland. On their return they went to Belfast and lived on the Falls Road. Despite the fact that they were quite poor Ina remembers they were a close knit, happy family.

We had no luxuries or comforts but we'd happiness.

There home was always full of visitors from the trade union movement and later the Republican movement. During the 1913 Lockout James Connolly was based in Dublin while Lillie and the children remained in Belfast. But the Connolly children helped where they could, collecting money to help the families of those on strike. Her father was imprisoned during this time. On his release he returned to Belfast and according to Ina,

All Belfast turned out to give him a warm welcome. 

Influenced by their father's politics both Ina and Nora joined the 'Betsy Gray Sluagh' of Na Fianna Éireann and became members of the Belfast branch of Cumann na mBan when it was established.

Remembering the events of Easter Week Ina recalls that she and Nora and four of their friends, who were also members of Cumann na mBan came down to Dublin on Easter Sunday. They had heard of the countermanding order and wanted to speak to their father and managed to get to Liberty Hall. 

After seeing her father Ina was sent to the Metropole Hotel, O'Connell Street where she saw Joseph Plunkett and told him the Volunteers in Tyrone had gotten MacNeill's orders cancelling manoeuvres. On Easter Monday morning they met Patrick Pearse who showed them a copy of the Proclamation and said,

Now girls I want you to read this for you are the first women in Ireland to see it.

The girls were to return to Tyrone and meet the Volunteers there. They wanted to take a copy of the Proclamation with them but Pearse refused. He did give them a dispatch with word that the Volunteers would strike at noon in Dublin. The message was not to fall into the hands of the authorities. During Easter Week Ina assisted the Volunteers in Clogher moving ammunition and supplies. She and Nora returned to Dublin on Sunday 30 April.

After the Rising Ina continued to be involved in the Republican movement. She went to London in 1918 and worked with the London IRA and was a contact between Michael Collins and William O'Brien, who had worked with her father in the ITGWU. She returned to Ireland in 1920 and during the Civil War fought with the anti-Treaty forces. She later married Archie Heron, a member of the Belfast Volunteers in 1916. Ina Connolly Heron died in April 1980. 

Ina Connolly Heron was interviewed for the RTÉ Television project 'Portraits 1916' in 1965.