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Roger Casement executed in London
Cartoon featured in an Austrian newspaper in the wake of Roger Casement's execution Photo: Kikeriki, 13 Aug 1916. Courtesy of ANNO.

Roger Casement executed in London

London, 3 August 1916 - Sir Roger Casement was executed this morning in Pentonville Prison in London.

At 9am, the hangman placed him in position on a scaffold in the jail and, after the Governor of the Prison and other officials had taken their place in front, released the lever which opened a trapdoor.

As the bell tolled, about 30 Irish people recited the prayers on the road outside the jail. Most were said to be members of the Gaelic League. When the bells stopped tolling, a member of the crowd exclaimed: ‘He has gone!’

Angus Mitchell talks about Casement's last days and execution

Casement’s final days
There are conflicting reports of Casement’s final days. A London evening newspaper depicted Casement as hopeless, helpless, clinging to life, and in wild despair when drawing near to death.

This has been entirely refuted by Irish newspapers who recorded that him as saying:

‘Give my love to all my friends and all who have worked for me. My last message to everyone is “Sursum Corda”. For the rest, my goodwill to all those who have taken my life equally to those who have tried to save it. All are my brethren now.’

It is also said that shortly before the execution, Casement said: ‘I am reconciled. I die for my country.’ There were also reports that in his last days he converted to catholicism and in his final hours he was ministered to by a catholic priest.

At the inquest, Casement’s lawyer George Gavan Duffy said that the failure of the authorities to give him Casement’s body was ‘a monstrous act of indecency’.

[Editor's note: This is an article from Century Ireland, a fortnightly online newspaper, written from the perspective of a journalist 100 years ago, based on news reports of the time.]

RTÉ

Century Ireland

The Century Ireland project is an online historical newspaper that tells the story of the events of Irish life a century ago.