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John Redmond dies of heart failure
John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, has died Photo: National Library of Ireland

John Redmond dies of heart failure

Tributes pour in as Irish leader laid to rest

Wexford, 12 March 1918 - John Redmond, leader of the Irish Parliamentary Party, died on 6 March.

Mr Redmond, who had been unwell for some time and had been absent from public life, was recovering in hospital from an operation when he suffered from heart failure.

His remains were initially taken to Westminster Cathedral where he was laid on a catafalque before the altar. A Requiem Mass was subsequently held to which King George sent a representative and at which Mr Lloyd George and Mr Bonar Law among other leading members of the British Government were present.

On 10 March Mr Redmond’s body was taken by the SS Leinster to Kingstown, where, it was met by a large crowd before being placed on board a black-draped train to Wexford where he was buried among his own people in the family vault of an old churchyard in Wexford Town.

Left to right: two images of John Redmond's funeral cortege in Wexford. The site at the Church of the Knights Templar in Wexford where he was buried (Images: Irish Life, March 1918 & Manchester Guardian History of the War)

If the obsequies at Westminster were, as the Freeman’s Journal has described them, a ‘gathering of the nations’, the funeral at Wexford more ‘a coming together of Irishmen of all creeds and classes’.

Delivering the graveside oration, his party colleague Mr John Dillon stated:

‘Time will do justice to his work and to his statesmanship, and all the people of Ireland, even those who today misunderstand him, will, in time to come, understand the greatness of his life and of his work, and the unselfishness of his career.’

Tributes for the dead leader have poured in from across Ireland, the UK and further afield.

‘He fought the good fight, he kept bright the faith of the Irish patriot’, the Freeman’s Journal declared on learning of his passing.

The Irish Party passed a resolution sympathising with Mr Redmond’s family, adding that ‘Ireland and the cause of Ireland’s freedom has sustained an irreparable loss by his death, but the results which have been achieved by his leadership are permanent and will remain a monument to his memory’.

Studio portrait of John Redmond and his second wife Ada (Image: National Library of Ireland)

In a short message of sympathy, King George remarked that Mr Redmond’s death would be ‘deeply and widely felt’.

Similar tributes have been forthcoming from church leaders, local authorities and various Irish organisations.

Much of the response to the death of Mr Redmond has been respectful and dignified, with some notable exceptions.

At a meeting of Waterford Corporation, for instance, Mr P.W. Kenny was rebuked for a contribution that referred to Mr Redmond’s career transition from someone who, while young, was full of almost extreme nationalist ardour, before succumbing to moderation in middle age and then, in his declining years, tending towards imperialism.

Mr Redmond is survived by his second wife Ada, his daughter Johanna and his son Capt. William Redmond, who is currently MP for East Tyrone.

[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.]


Century Ireland

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