Documentary on One

The Irishwoman Who Shot Mussolini

Four people tried to assassinate Italian fascist dictator Benito Mussolini. Only one person ever came close - her name was Violet Gibson and she was Irish.

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4.6/5 (233 ratings)

Documentary Maker: Siobhan Lynam

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Documentary maker: Nicoline Greer

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The Irishwoman Who Shot Mussolini

Violet Gibson's bullet missed Mussolini's bald head but removed part of his nose.

Despite the fact that Violet Gibson - who grew up in Merrion Square, Dublin - was one of four people who tried to assassinate fascist dictator Mussolini, and the only one who ever came close to succeeding, she has largely been written out of history.

In the early years of his dictatorship, Mussolini was adored by Italians and admired by leaders across the world. People came to Italy just to hear him speak.

In April 1926, at the ancient site of the Compidoglio in Rome, the petite, grey-haired Irish lady edged her way into the crowd that was waiting to greet him after his address to an International conference of the College of Surgeons - but she had not come to admire him. She was there to shoot him.

Just as she pulled the trigger, he moved his head.  The bullet hit his nose. At point blank range she fired again but - click - the gun jammed.

Violet was set upon by the crowd but dragged away by the police. She was first interned in Italy and then moved to St. Andrew's Hospital for Mental Diseases in Northampton.

She spent the rest of her life in the institution, battling to be released, writing letters that were never posted.

First broadcast Saturday 21st June 2014.

This documentary was made with funding from the Broadcasting Authority of Ireland.

Narrated and produced by Siobhan Lynam.

Production supervision by Nicoline Greer.

Sound supervision by Tom Norton.

Featuring original music composed by Eamon Keane.

With contributions from Francis Stoner-Saunders, author of the book The Woman Who Shot Mussolini

Voice of Violet Gibson played by Valerie Abbey.

Other readings by: Aiden Matthews, Ger Philpott, Kevin Brew, Kevin Reynolds and Sinead Renshaw.

An Irish radio documentary from RTÉ Radio 1, Ireland - Documentary on One - the home of Irish radio documentaries.

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