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Roger Casement

(1864—1916) diplomatist and Irish rebel


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(b. 1 Sept. 1864, d. 3 Aug. 1916).

Irish nationalist Born in Sandy Cove (Co. Dublin) and educated at Ballymena Academy in Co. Antrim, he went to Africa in 1884 and joined the colonial service there in 1892. His reports on the inhuman treatment of native workers in the Belgian Congo (1904) and in the rubber plantations of Peru (1912) earned him an international reputation as a humanitarian. He was knighted for this work in 1911, but was forced to retire from foreign service due to the adverse effects of the tropics on his health.

Casement became active in the Gaelic League and other Irish nationalist movements, joining the Irish Volunteers in 1913. During World War I, he went to Berlin (October 1914) to try to enlist Irish prisoners of war in an Irish rising against Britain. He failed to form a brigade, but eventually persuaded the Germans to send 20,000 guns to Co. Kerry on the ship Aud in April 1916, intended to support the planned Easter Rising. Casement worried that the supply was inadequate. He followed in a U‐boat and landed at Banna Strand, Tralee, Co. Kerry, on 20 April and tried to get a message to Dublin to halt the rising. Casement was captured and taken to London for interrogation. While he was there, the Easter Rising broke out in Dublin. Casement was charged with high treason, convicted, and sentenced to death. A large campaign was mounted to have the sentence revoked, but copies of his diaries (which contained homosexual references and passages) were circulated to discredit him. This worked, the campaign failed, and Casement was hung at Pentonville gaol. His remains were returned to Ireland in 1965 and he was reinterred in Glasnevin Cemetery on 1 March after a state funeral.

Subjects: History.


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