Francis Hearn was from Dungarvan. His uncles were Thomas, Vicar General and Dean of Waterford and Francis, President of the Irish College, Louvain, and P.P. of St. Patrick's, Waterford.
Francis Hearn was expelled from Maynooth in 1798. Dr. Healy's Centenary History of Maynooth states that 17 students including Hearn were expelled on Sunday 12 May 1798. It was stated that Hearn was dismissed from the college for being a member of the United Irishmen. He continued his studies for the priesthood at Carlow College where he stayed for 3 months. On 21 October 1798 the military visited Maynooth with the intention of arresting Hearn and a John Power who was supposed to have been a fellow student of Hearn. Hearn and Power were arrested in Carlow and brought to Waterford.
Hearn's trial took place in Waterford on 16/17 October, 1799 in the County Grand Jury Room, Waterford. He was charged 'with being an Active person aiding and assisting in the present rebellion, with having been present wilfully aiding and assisting at a treasonable meeting held for traitorous purposes, and also with having administered unlawful oaths in furtherance of the rebellion existing within this Kingdom.' When the court-martial resumed the following day Hearn changed his plea to Guilty and threw himself at the mercy of the court. This change of heart had no effect and the judge sentenced Hearn to death.
Father William Power visited Edmund Power and Francis Hearn in their cells in Waterford Jail. Hearn was brought to the Old Waterford Bridge at 12 o'clock on Monday 21 October 1799 where he was hanged. Father Power asked him what had influenced him to get involved with the United Irishmen. Hearn replied that it was as a result of reading French pamphlets on liberty while he was in Louvain. While a monument was erected to the memory of Edmund power, there is none to the memory of Francis Hearn.
Author: William Fraher