Sir Roger Casement hanged

Sir Roger Casement hanged

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Sir Roger David Casement, an Irish-born diplomat who in 1911 was knighted by King George V, is executed for his role in Ireland’s Easter Rising.

Casement was an Irish Protestant who served as a British diplomat during the early part of the 20th century. He won international acclaim after exposing the illegal practice of slavery in the Congo and parts of South America. Despite his Ulster Protestant roots, he became an ardent supporter of the Irish independence movement and after the outbreak of World War I traveled to the United States and then to Germany to secure aid for an Irish uprising against the British.

Germany, which was at war with Great Britain, promised limited aid, and Casement was transported back to Ireland in a German submarine. On April 21, 1916, just a few days before the outbreak of the Easter Rising in Dublin, he landed in Kerry and was picked up by British authorities almost immediately. By the end of the month, the Easter Rising had been suppressed and a majority of its leaders executed. Casement was tried separately because of his illustrious past but nevertheless was found guilty of treason on June 29. On August 3, he was hanged in London.

On this date in 1916, Roger Casement was hanged for treason by the British crown that had knighted him only a few years before.

Casement died for his part in the Easter Rising, but this Irish nationalist hero’s layered story has long made him a very different sort of cultural marker than, say, James Connolly.

Casement came to public prominence for his damning report on Belgium’s atrocious treatment of natives in its Congo colony, e.g.:

[T]he great decrease in population, the dirty and ill-kept towns, and the complete absence of goats, sheep, or fowls — once very plentiful in this country — were to be attributed above all else to the continued effort made during many years to compel the natives to work india-rubber. Large bodies of native troops had formerly been quartered in the district, and the punitive measures undertaken to his end had endured for a considerable period. During the course of these operations there had been much loss of life, accompanied, I fear, by a somewhat general mutilation of the dead, as proof that the soldiers had done their duty.

. . . Two cases (of mutilation) came to my actual notice while I was in the lake district. One, a young man, both of whose hands had been beaten off with the butt ends of rifles against a tree the other a young lad of 11 or 12 years of age, whose right hand was cut off at the wrist. . . . I both these cases the Government soldiers had been accompanied by white officers whose names were given to me. Of six natives (one a girl, three little boys, one youth, and one old woman) who had been mutilated in this way during the rubber regime, all except one were dead at the date of my visit.

[A sentry in the employ of one of the concessionary private companies] said he had caught and was detaining as prisoners (eleven women) to compel their husbands to bring in the right amount of rubber required of them on the next market day. . . . When I asked what would become of these women if their husbands failed to bring in the right quantity of rubber . . , he said at once that then they would be kept there until their husbands had redeemed them.

Casement’s is an honorable name in the campaign for the Congo, an early human rights and anti-colonial struggle in this 92-minute BBC documentary on the notorious depredations in the Congo, the Casement report’s creation and impact are treated from about 1:15:15 through the end:

A similar investigation undertaken in Peru — where the lens focused on British employers, rather than strictly the malfeasance of foreign states — earned him knighthood in 1911, but Casement’s personal evolution from loyal Protestant* imperial operative with a sympathy for the Irish cause to revolutionary nationalist was already underway. “This journey into the depths of the Congo has been useful in helping me discover my own country and understand her situation, her destiny, her reality,” he wrote his sister. “I’ve also found my true self: the incorrigible Irishman.”

He resigned from the consular service and began recruiting for the Irish Volunteers.

As World War I opened, Casement identified British aggression as its cause, an extension of the violent imperial hegemony he chronicled in The Crime Against Europe:

The British Empire was not founded in peace how, then can it be kept by peace, or ensured by peace-treaties? It was born of pillage and blood-shed, and has been maintained by both and it cannot now be secured by a common language any more than a common Bible. The lands called the British Empire belong to many races, and it is only by the sword and not by the Book of Peace or any pact of peace that those races can be kept from the ownership of their own countries.

While any Irish Republican would have agreed with that sentiment, the resulting moral and tactical calculus for the Irish cause to ally with the German was not universally embraced — and was certainly anathema to the British.

All that was beautiful and just,
All that was pure and sad
Went in one little, moving plot of dust
The world called bad.

Came like a highwayman, and went,
One who was bold and gay,
Left when his lightly loving mood was spent
Thy heart to pay.

By-word of little street and men,
Narrower theirs the shame,
Tread thou the lava loving leaves, and then
Turn whence it came.

Ætna, all wonderful, whose heart
Glows as thine throbbing glows,
Almond and citron bloom quivering at start,
Ends in pure snows.

Casement spent the first two years of the Great War in Germany itself, and arranged a shipment of guns that would have supported the Easter Rising, but thought the aid too little and too late. He had a German U-boat drop him at Ireland, trying to get word to the Republican leadership to postpone the revolt.** Instead, he was picked up three days before the doomed rising and hanged after a sensational trial.&dagger

His “treason” — and of course, the very crime of which he was convicted imports a British legitimacy in Ireland that Casement explicitly rejected — shocked many old associates, but he still had friends in high places. To dampen the international clemency campaign, England circulated the notorious “Black Diaries,” photographs of supposed Casement diary pages detailing the author’s homosexuality.

This dirty (and successful) trick brings a personal-is-political quality to Casement’s legacy as well as an enduring debate over the diaries’ authenticity. Since Irish nationalism gained mainstream acceptance well before homosexuality, right-thinking folk long held the Black Diaries a forgery, and time was you solicited a black eye by saying otherwise in the wrong company.

The gay rights movement has seen a posthumous redefinition of Casement although homosexuality was not on the indictment against him, one could argue that it was the reason he hanged. Given recent handwriting forensics that support the diaries’ authenticity, the general&Dagger consensus about the Black Diaries has inverted with the effect of only heightening sympathy for their alleged author, albeit at the expense of some tension over how to situate that characteristic within the whole of Casement’s life and thought.

And that is only one aspect of the shifting place of Casement in the firmament of Republican martyrs since his death. His hagiography waxed in the interwar years, with Yeats among those calling for the return of Casement’s remains in The Ghost of Roger Casement”.

But the humanitarian’s German ties were an inconvenience as World War II raged, and not until afterward was that cause renewed. When his body was finally returned in 1965, an Irish state funeral elided the matter of the diaries.

Even Casement himself, who would be the last to die for the Easter Rising, had a hand in the myth-making. His last mission’s purpose to avert the Easter Rising fit neither the government’s interest in maximizing his perfidy nor Casement’s own in identifying with the Irish cause he himself therefore owned the Rising fully in his defense which made him fine fodder for Republican hymns like “Lonely Banna Strand”:

RTE radio’s What If? series recently explored Casement’s complex legacy:

As Casement put it in his voluminous personal writing, “It is a cruel thing to die with all men misunderstanding — misapprehending — and to be silent forever.”

* Casement’s father was Protestant and his mother was Catholic he lived with a somewhat split identity between the two faiths, but formally converted to Catholicism while awaiting execution (which surely did not hurt his memory to the Irish cause) and his last meal was simply the Host.

** The guns themselves were interdicted by the British navy and ended up scuttled to the ocean floor.

&dagger Since Casement’s incitements to rebellion had occurred on foreign soil, there was some fine legal parsing over whether he could be tried for “treason.” The dispute resolved to the placement of a comma in a medieval law — leading to the epigram/-taph that Casement was “hanged by a comma.” In the midst of war and before an English jury, however, punctuation was an even weaker defense than it sounds.

Sir Roger Casement | The Man Hanged as a Traitor Who Took on the Devil

Roger Casement (1864-1916) was an Irish nationalist and British consular official, whose attempt to secure aid from Germany in the struggle for Irish independence led to his execution by the British for the crime of high treason.

Born on 1 September, 1864, in Kingstown, to a Protestant father and Catholic mother, Roger David Casement was heir to two radically different traditions in Ireland. As the son of a landed Protestant gentleman, Casement had definite cultural links to England that the majority of his poorer Catholic countrymen did not. Yet, as the son of a Catholic, Casement’s heritage was bound up with that of Irish men and women who had fought English Protestant rule in their country for hundreds of years.

Casement was the youngest of four children his sister, Nina, was eight years his elder, and brothers Thomas and Charles were one and three years older, respectively. In 1868, when Casement was barely four, his mother had all her children secretly baptised into the Catholic faith. Unknown to the children’s father (and probably little understood by the children themselves), the baptism took place while the family was vacationing in North Wales. However, Casement thought of himself as a Protestant for most of his life, converting to Catholicism only a short while before his death.

The event that most shaped Casement’s childhood was the death of his mother in 1873. He was deeply shaken by the loss. His father moved the children to the family estate, Magherintemple House, where Casement stayed for only a short time before being sent off to boarding school. Not quite four years later, Casement’s father also died. Now orphans, the children were taken in by relatives. For the most part, Casement and his sister stayed with their mother’s sister, Grace Bannister, and her family, while Charles and Thomas remained with their uncle, John Casement.

Grace and Edward Bannister lived in Liverpool, England, with their three children. Like her sister, Grace had married a Protestant. She, however, had converted to her husband’s religion and raised her children and her sister’s children in the Protestant faith. It is rumoured that Grace was only nominally Protestant, and that she provided a quietly Catholic environment for the children. A seeming proof of this can be found in the eventual conversion of both Casement and Gertrude Bannister, one of Grace’s own children.

Casement thrived in his aunt’s home and was adored by his cousins. Although she was nine years younger, Gertrude was his favourite. In a pleasing baritone, Casement would sing traditional Irish songs for her and spin Irish fairy tales. He also loved reading, especially history and poetry. There is evidence that even as a teenager living in England, he was interested in the Irish nationalist cause. Not only did he devour books on Ireland, but he is said to have covered the walls of his room with political cartoons that dealt with the issue. Despite his nationalist leanings, however, he did not return to Ireland when he finished school. Instead, after a brief and unhappy apprenticeship as a junior office clerk at the Elder Dempster Shipping Company, Casement embarked on the first of many voyages to Africa.

His first position, in 1883, was as purser on board the SS Bonny, an Elder Dempster ship that traded with West Africa. Making four round-trips aboard the Bonny over the following year, he became completely enamored of the African continent. In 1884, he began to serve with the International Association, a Belgian-run group of national committees seeking to bring European civilization to the Congo. Leopold II of Belgium had recently taken over the association, which was soon to become an entirely Belgian operation. Casement worked primarily as a surveyor, exploring land previously unknown to the Europeans and often making friends with native Africans along the way. One of his supervisors reported in despair that Casement refused to haggle over prices with the natives.

In 1890, Casement left the Belgian Congo, having become more uncomfortable with an enterprise that was no longer international but strictly Belgian. While working briefly as a surveyor for a railroad company, he met Captain Korzeniowski, a young Polish ship worker who would later become known as author, Joseph Conrad. Conrad’s experience in the Congo formed the basis for his famous and haunting work, Heart of Darkness. Casement does not figure in that work, despite its autobiographical cast in fact, Conrad spoke of his meeting with Casement as one of his few good experiences in the Congo.

In 1892, Casement, at long last, found himself working for the British. The Niger Coast Protectorate employed him as a surveyor, and enlisted him with a great variety of other tasks, including that of the acting director-generalship of customs. Casement’s interactions with the natives were not always friendly during these survey expeditions at one point, shouting warriors surrounded him and he was only rescued when a native woman intervened. Casement spent three years in Niger and, though he was usually quite busy with surveys and other work, he still found time to write. Poetry was one of his great loves, and he also tried his hand at short stories. Unlike his friend Conrad, however, Casement’s skills as a creative writer were never to be recognized (and were not, in fact, particularly worthy of recognition).

In 1895, when Casement returned to Britain briefly on leave, he discovered that his reports from Niger had been published as a Parliamentary White Paper. Casement had become a public figure, and the Foreign Office scrambled to claim him as an employee. He was appointed consul to the port of Lorenco Marques in Portuguese East Africa, near what is now South Africa. His primary task was to protect British subjects and promote British interests, but an additional duty involved overseeing the political situation in the area, which was to erupt within a few years into the Boer War. Casement was unhappy in Lorenco Marques it was a miserably inadequate, run-down place, and the climate disagreed with his health. Used to the free life of exploration, he hated consular routine.

Casement grew ill and returned to England to recover. When he learned that the Foreign Office expected him to return to his hated post, he delayed and detoured on his way back to Lorenco Marques until told by a doctor to return to England immediately for an operation. Casement’s first round of consular service was ended. Despite his unhappiness, the Foreign Office found him to be, for the most part, a capable, hard-working, clever, and confident representative of the British government.

Casement was sent to West Africa in 1898 to investigate claims of ill-treatment of British subjects. He spent the next several years documenting grossly illegal and vicious treatment of the natives by Belgians. Interested only in extracting as much rubber as possible from the Upper Congo, Belgium had employed terrorist methods in order to force natives to work. In the process, they had reduced populations by 80% and more. In one area, the number of natives had fallen in ten years from about 5,000 to 352. The Belgians claimed that sleeping sickness was killing the natives. While the disease did indeed kill great numbers of people, the huge declines in population had more to do with the extreme labour the people were forced into, the rough punishments inflicted when rubber quotas were not met, the lack of proper food, and the ever-present fear of Belgian overseers. Belgian soldiers mutilated many natives, causing them to lose hands or feet as punishment for minor or even imagined wrongs. Casement documented beatings, floggings, imprisonments, mutilations, and other forms of mistreatment to such an extent that he himself was horrified.

Casement’s report, when published in England in 1904, did not cause quite the sensation one might have expected. Leopold of Belgium denied everything, and Casement was portrayed by the Belgians as being in the pay of British rubber companies. Nevertheless, there were calls for an international investigation of the Congo. Casement was greatly disappointed that the British Foreign Office did not back up his charges to the fullest extent their own records would have allowed, but political considerations of the time did not allow such a step.

Casement took a leave of absence that almost turned into an early retirement. It was fully two years later that the Foreign Office was able to convince him to take up the post of consul in Santos, Brazil. In 1908, he was promoted to consul general of Brazil and moved to Rio de Janeiro. Rumors of atrocities associated with yet another rubber company came to his attention, and Casement once more embarked on an exhaustive inquiry. His 1912 Putumayo Report exposed the cruel and exploitative treatment of Brazilian Indians by a Peruvian company and set a precedent for the British Consulate to intervene on behalf of native peoples. Until the Putumayo Report, it had been possible to think of events in the Congo as a strange aberration in colonial practices now it was becoming clearer that abuse of colonized countries and natives was a serious problem.

Taking an extended medical leave of absence, Casement returned to Britain when his report was published. He had been knighted on his return to Britain, in recognition of the extraordinary work that led to the Putumayo Report. His health had never been good, and he was seriously considering retirement.

Casement went to Ireland and quickly became involved with Irish nationalists. He was an effective speaker and fundraiser for the Irish Volunteers. When Britain and Germany went to war in 1914, he saw a new way to put pressure on the British. He called on the Irish public to support Germany while he conceived a plan for an uprising. His intentions: to recruit Irish soldiers who had fought for Britain and had been captured by Germany. Travelling to Germany, Casement was well received by German leaders who promised to help him in raising an Irish Brigade. Germany even issued a declaration in favour of Irish independence—which Britain, of course, ignored.

Casement’s recruiting efforts among captured soldiers did not go well: he soon discovered that German offers of assistance were hardly more than ploys to keep the English busy with worries of German troops in Ireland. Casement had been promised that 200,000 rifles, along with German officers and soldiers, would accompany him and the Irish Brigade back to Ireland. As things turned out, there were no Germans heading for Ireland and only one-tenth of the promised rifles. Since Irish leaders had planned an uprising based on projected German assistance, they decided to go ahead without it. Knowing such an uprising would fail miserably, Casement attempted to return in time to stop it, convincing the Germans to bring him to Ireland by U-boat. He also knew that his activities in Germany were well known to the British, and that he would be subjected to arrest for treason if he were to return to Ireland (which still was British territory). Still, he made the desperate effort to return home and prevent a hopeless civil war. British intelligence was aware of his impending arrival, and Casement was captured shortly after he landed on Irish soil.

Immediately imprisoned, Casement was soon brought to England for trial. In his final speech from the dock, he stated unequivocally that he had never sought to aid the king’s enemies, but only his own country—Ireland how can a man, he asked, be condemned for treason on such grounds? His pleas to be tried in Ireland and judged by Irishmen went unheard, and an English jury in an English court condemned him for treason. Despite appeals on his behalf from many quarters, he was sentenced to hang.

For a brief time, there was hope of a reprieve from the Crown. However, Casement’s diaries had been discovered by this time. Copies circulated to King George V, members of Parliament—anyone with influence. The diaries revealed that Casement was a practicing homosexual and had been for many years. The shock and scandal accompanying this revelation precluded any possibility of a reprieve.

In Casement’s last weeks in prison, he acknowledged his lifelong semi-association with the Catholic Church by formally converting. Thus, Casement died a Catholic. Brought to the scaffold in London on 3 August 1916, he was said to have met death calmly.

Casement’s story, it would appear, is a contradictory one. After years of faithful service to the British Empire, he suddenly became enamoured of Ireland and betrayed Britain for this new love. Yet that is an overly simplified version of what happened, and is, in effect, wrong. Casement saw, in his service of the Empire, a service in the name of both Ireland and England, and it is certain that he had always valued his Irish heritage. His interest in Irish nationalism was nothing new in 1913 it was, however, the first time that he had had the chance to act on his beliefs. His attempt to work with Germany was not in contradiction to his previous work, but in keeping with his efforts to struggle against oppression. In Africa, in Brazil, and in Ireland, Casement saw colonial powers being abused for his efforts in Africa and Brazil, he was hailed as a hero. It was only when he tried to awaken the British to their own failings that he was pronounced a traitor. Casement died as he had lived: in service to his country.

(1916-08-03) Roger Casement is executed

Sir Roger Casement is executed in Pentonville prison in London after being convicted of High Treason, Sabotage and Espionage against the Crown. The execution stemmed from the attempted importation of arms from Germany through Banna Strand, which ultimately failed.

Banna Strand

In Germany, Casement had procured 20,000 Mosin Nagant 1891 rifles, 10 machine guns, a large quantity of explosives and 1,000,000 rounds of ammunition from Imperial Germany, less than Casement had desired and without any trained soldiers. These weapons would be transited from the baltic port of Lübeck in Germany on the SS Libau, which would assume the identity of SS Aud (or the Aud) and pretend to be a Norweigan ship, and then travel off the coast of Norway and then around Ireland before landing in Banna Strand on the south coast. However, the ship never received an ‘all-clear’ signal and never made the shore. The ship was eventually spotted by 3 British destroyer warships, and failing to escape, was forced to be escorted to Cobh Harbour. While en route, some of the explosives contained on-board were used to scuttle the ship to prevent the capture of the german arms by the British. All of the German crew were arrested and interned as Prisoners of War (P.O.Ws) until the end of the war.

Casement had made landfall a few days before the Aud at Banna Strand, however he fell ill upon reaching shore from a bout of Malaria which had plagued him since his time in the Congo. He was too ill to travel and took shelter in McKenna’s fort. Following the scuttling of the Aud, the Royal Irish Constabulary (RIC) searched for Casement and eventually found him and arrested him. During his time at McKenna’s fort, Casement had sent word to Dublin of his arrival and condition – it is possible the Kerry volunteers may have attempted to rescue him, but the orders from Dublin forbade any attempts.

As the Irish Transport and General Workers Union (ITGWU) workers under the Irish Citizen Army (ICA) were not prepared to receive the arms aboard the Aud, the Irish Republican Brotherhood (IRB) sent volunteers from the Irish Volunteers to Banna Strand to receive the arms. However, one of the motorcars containing Kerry volunteers sent to Banna Strands had a fatal accident that resulted in the deaths of 3 of the 4 inhabitants – making the unloading of arms realistically impossible even in the best scenario. The British had also intercepted communications from Washington to Germany and feared an invasion of Ireland or an attempted importation of arms – but were unsure where exactly it was to occur.

Trial and Execution

Following his capture, Casement was taken to Brixton prison and held on suicide watch – as London Tower had no staff trained in suicide intervention. He was tried for High Treason, Sabotage and Espionage against the Crown. Casement protested that he was not a traitor and the British judiciary had great difficulty in convicting Casement, given the fact his ‘treason’ had occurred on German soil, it was outside of the scope of the then-current law on Treason, Treason Act 1351. The legislation was then interpreted in it’s older archaic version, liberally ignoring punctuation and using commas selectively – Casement remarked he was “hanged on a comma” after the changing of the goalposts.

Casement’s Black Diaries were discovered during the trial, and given the sexual deviant nature and homosexual-natured contents of the diaries, allowed for an escape of the death penalty through the pleading of ‘guilty but insane. A barrister who admired his works suggested using the diaries as evidence for this defense to Casement and he refused to agree to it, and was found guilty and hanged. The British government secretly circulated some contents of the diary to sway public opinion against Casement due to homosexuality being frowned upon and disliked at the time. Casement’s public image suffered from this. Controversially, it is suspected that the Black Diaries known contents are forged by a British agent – and as of 2019, it has not be conclusively proved whether it had been or not. As homosexuality was considered a mental illness and ‘deviant‘ in 1916, it was a clever forgery if it is a forgery.

There had been pleas for clemency from many figures and organisations such as William Butler Yeats, Sir Arthur Conlan Doyle, George Bernard Shaw and the United States Senate. The Crown Prosecutor, F. E. Smith, who was a critical opponent of Irish Independence urged the British government to reject these pleas successfully. He converted to Catholicism before his death.


Casement was hanged on the 3rd August 1916 and buried in a quicklime grave at Pentonville prison in London against his wishes to be buried at Murlough Bay in County Antrim in Ireland. Despite requests for repatriation, the British government continually rejected these requested – until 1956, when the British repatriated Casement on the condition that he is not reburied in Northern Ireland.

As a result, Casement lay in state at Arbour Hill near the buried leaders of 1916, before being transferred to the Republican plot at Glasnevin cemetery. He was given a state funeral, which was attended by 1916 leader and Irish President Éamon De Valera and roughly 30,000 others.

Gay History: Roger Casement: Gay Irish Martyr or Victim of a British Forgery?

A century since he was executed, the story of Irish rebel Sir Roger Casement remains controversial due to the Black Diaries – either a genuine chronicle of his sexual history or a forgery by British officials to discredit him. Two biographers have set out to settle Casement’s case once and for all

Undated library file photo of Sir Roger Casement. Photograph: PA

hanged man was never more popular. One hundred years ago, the British government executed Roger Casement for his participation in a rebellion in Ireland, the Easter Rising of 1916. This year, schoolchildren and tourists by the thousands have visited Casement’s gravesite in Dublin. It is part of a centennial pilgrimage in honour of the Rising, the pivotal event in modern Irish history, marked by headstones, prisons, and rebel redoubts now hard to imagine in jostling traffic. As the First World War raged across Europe, Irish men and women joined the Rising in an attempt to break from a United Kingdom that had bound Ireland for 115 years. In fighting to establish an Irish republic, they battled not just the British government they also faced the prospect of a civil war against Irish Protestant unionists in the northern province of Ulster who had already spent three years arming themselves against the prospect of political domination by Ireland’s Catholic majority. In the aftermath of the Rising, the British government executed 16 rebel leaders, including Casement. He was hanged and buried on August 3 in the yard of Pentonville Prison in London, England, a land and sea away from his current resting place.

Casement, the last man to be executed, was the first among traitors in the eyes of British officials. Many knew of Casement, an Irish Protestant born outside of Dublin, for his years of work as a Foreign Office official in Africa and South America. This was the Casement who had held a memorial service in a mission church in the Congo Free State in 1901 to commemorate the passing of Queen Victoria the Casement who was knighted by Victoria’s grandson King George V in 1911 for his humanitarian campaigns on behalf of indigenous peoples on two continents the Casement who retired from the Foreign Office in 1913 on a comfortable pension that financed his turn to rebellion.

An undated portrait of Sir Roger Casement. Photograph: Courtesy National Library of Ireland

Just over half a century ago, in 1965, Casement’s remains were reinterred, following a state funeral, in Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin. This traitor to the British crown and martyr for the Republic of Ireland remains a memory in motion, stirred by an unforeseen combination of circumstances. The achievement of legal equality for gays in Ireland in 2015, together with the United Kingdom’s recent Brexit vote to leave the European Union, may occasion a new life after death for Casement — as the symbol of a united Ireland. It is the role he had hoped to play even as the trapdoor opened beneath his feet.

Since his adolescence, Casement had been an Irish nationalist of the poetic variety. But his politics hardened after his experiences in the Congo Free State persuaded him that the Congolese and Irish peoples had suffered similar injustices, both having lost their lands to imperial conquest. Like many Irish nationalists, Casement turned to militancy in the years before the First World War, angered both by unionists arming themselves and London’s failure to act upon parliamentary legislation for “home rule,” which would have granted the Irish a measure of sovereign autonomy. In 1914, Casement crossed enemy lines into Germany. There, he attempted to recruit Irish prisoners of war to fight against their former British commanders and sought to secure arms from the Kaiser for a revolution in Ireland itself. Two years later — less than a week before the Rising began — Casement was arrested after coming ashore on the southwest coast of Ireland from a submarine bearing German weapons and ammunition. He was sent to London to be interrogated and tried for treason.

As the government reasoned, how could any right-thinking person defend a sodomist?

These days, Casement is chiefly known as the alleged author of the so-called Black Diaries, which are at the center of a long-standing controversy over his sexuality. As Casement awaited execution in London, supporters in the United Kingdom and the United States lobbied the British government to commute his sentence. In response, British officials began to circulate pages from diaries, purportedly written by Casement in 1903, 1910 and 1911, which chronicled in explicit terms his sexual relations with men. Among mundane daily entries are breathless, raunchy notes on Casement’s trysts and, often, the dimensions of his sexual partners. An excerpt from February 28, 1910, Brazil: “Deep screw to hilt … Rua do Hospicio, 3$ only fine room. Shut window. Lovely, young — 18 & glorious. Biggest since Lisbon July 1904 … Perfectly huge.” UK law forbade any sexual relations between men, so, the government reasoned, how could any right-thinking person defend a sodomist? The diaries served to weaken support for clemency for Casement. In the aftermath of his execution a decades-long debate over the authenticity of the diaries ensued.

The leading participants in the debate are two biographers: Jeffrey Dudgeon, who believes that the diaries are genuine and that Casement was a homosexual, and Angus Mitchell, who thinks that the diaries were forged and that Casement’s sexual orientation remains an open question. The stakes of this debate were once greater than they are today. As the debate over the Black Diaries gathered momentum in the 1950s and reached a crisis point in the run-up to the repatriation of Casement’s remains to Ireland in the 1960s, Ireland was both more Catholic in its culture and less assured of its sovereign authority than it is today. The southern 26 counties of Ireland declared themselves the Republic of Ireland in 1949, but the British government continued to treat the Republic as a subordinate member of the Commonwealth, rather than a full-fledged European state, until 1968. In that year, responsibility for British relations with the Republic was assigned to the Western European Department of the newly amalgamated Foreign and Commonwealth Relations Office. Six of the counties of the province of Ulster have remained in the United Kingdom as Northern Ireland, riven by sectarian tension that the Republic and Britain have only ever brought to a stalemate. It is telling that the Irish government has been content to leave the diaries in the British National Archives rather than demand ownership and become accountable for their authenticity.

Casement’s path to political redemption was laid by the Gay Liberation movement. Dudgeon is not just a biographer but a protagonist in one of the movement’s crucial battles. In 1981, he challenged Northern Ireland’s criminalisation of homosexual acts between consenting adult men in a case against the United Kingdom brought before the European Court of Human Rights. The court ruled that the law at issue violated the European Convention of Human Rights, and this decision prompted the British government in 1982 to issue an Order in Council that decriminalised homosexual acts between adult men in Northern Ireland England, Wales, and Scotland had already passed similar laws. In 1993 the Irish parliament to the south also decriminalised male homosexuality in order to bring the Republic’s law into compliance with the European Convention of Human Rights. And in 2015, the Republic became the first country in the world to legalise same-sex marriage by popular vote. The broader campaign for LGBT rights in Ireland has kept Casement much in the news and proudly represented him as a national son and father.

In their biographies, Dudgeon and Mitchell present two Casements, each with strengths and weaknesses. Dudgeon offers meticulous, well-documented detail, but his book, Roger Casement: The Black Diaries, is for insiders, reading at many points like the notes for a doctoral dissertation, without consistent chronological structure or contextual explanation for those unfamiliar with Irish history in general and Casement in particular. Mitchell likewise offers meticulous documentary evidence in Roger Casement, but within a comparatively fluid and clear narrative history that depends problematically upon his assertion that the British government, from the Cabinet to the National Archive, has pursued an insidious, sweeping policy of individual defamation over the past century.

Were the Black Diaries forged? And if so, was it the work of the British government, seeking to destroy Casement for his betrayal and to deny Ireland a heroic martyr? It must be said that Dudgeon and Mitchell both magnify Casement out of proportion to his significance as a threat to the United Kingdom, a state that was attempting to survive a war on multiple fronts, with flagging morale at home, in 1916. The government had larger fish to fry than this man who never founded or led a political party, never engaged in assassination or led men into combat, and never wrote a popular manifesto or treatise. Moreover, as Dudgeon argues, it would have been a monumental, virtually impossible task in 1916 for officials and civil servants to forge diaries so comprehensive in their account of long-past events — when Casement was not under suspicion — that they could convince even Casement’s associates, who found themselves and their own interactions with Casement mentioned in the text. In a fascinating turn, Dudgeon offers the most successful refutation of forgery to date by systematically verifying the diaries’ contents, relentlessly revealing and cross-referencing new sources to pull together loose ends and flesh out identities from cryptic references and last names, such as that of Casement’s alleged boyfriend: “Millar.” Against the historical backdrop of a government marshalling limited resources in wartime, Dudgeon effectively charges that a forgery so verifiably true to life could not have been a forgery. He is probably correct.

Yet to travel further down this historical rabbit hole risks missing what is most significant about Casement at present: his potential reinvention as a symbol of Irish unity in the future. Casement has been resuscitated by an extraordinary combination of developments in the Republic of Ireland and the United Kingdom, not just the relative toleration of homosexuality, but the lurch toward Brexit in a popular referendum that found 52% of UK voters in favour and 48% opposed. The decisive support for Brexit was located in England and Wales, while both Scotland and Northern Ireland voted to remain in the EU, the latter by 55.8% to 44.2%. The Republic of Ireland and the UK have long agreed that the political division of Ireland will continue until the majority of Northern Ireland’s citizens vote to sanction secession. Even as Northern Ireland has moved steadily toward a Catholic majority (most of whom support secession), there is still a sizeable minority of Catholics who prefer continued union with Britain in the name of economic and political stability. After the Brexit vote, the disparate communities of Northern Ireland — Protestants and Catholics of all political stripes — may find new common ground in, of all places, Europe. Northern Ireland, like the Republic, benefits substantially from its relationship with the EU, and nationalists and unionists alike are worried about the loss of EU subsidies and markets.

Irish President Eamon de Valera speaking at the funeral of Irish nationalist Roger Casement at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, 2nd March 1965. Photograph: Central Press/Getty Images

In the days preceding his execution, Casement asked his family to bury his body near the home of relatives in County Antrim, in what is now Northern Ireland. This was the family that had taken young Roger in after an itinerant childhood and the deaths of his parents. “Take my body back with you and let it lie in the old churchyard in Murlough Bay,” he reportedly stated. Casement’s reinternment at Glasnevin Cemetery was, in fact, a compromise. In 1965 neither the Irish nor the UK governments wished to antagonise Ulster unionists with the burial of a republican martyr in their midst. Among the many tributes laid at Casement’s grave following his burial in Glasnevin was a sod of turf from the high headland over Murlough Bay.

The transfer of Casement’s remains from Pentonville to Glasnevin was conceived by the Irish and UK governments as a symbolic gesture of goodwill that would set the political stage for the Anglo-Irish Free Trade Agreement of 1965. The governments turned to each other for economic support because France had frustrated their attempts to gain entrance into the European Economic Community (EEC), the predecessor organisation of the EU. When both countries joined the EEC in 1973, this trade agreement lapsed. Once more, then, with Brexit, Casement’s bones have been stirred by Anglo-Irish relations with Europe. In Ireland, the effects are likely to be much different this time around. In representing Casement as a man of contradictions, biographers have assessed him in the terms of conflicts in Irish society that persisted long after his death: the sectarian divide between Protestants and Catholics, the troubles between Ireland and Britain, and the discrimination against male homosexuals enforced by religion and law. As these conflicts dissipate, Casement will be recast in a new light. The portrait of a man of contradictions will give way to a composite picture in which the majority of the people of Ireland may see themselves. Should Ireland reunite, whether in the aftermath of Brexit or in a more distant time, the moment of reconciliation, of acceptance and forgiveness, may well occur over a grave at Murlough Bay.

Sir Roger Casement hanged

Sir Roger David Casement, an Irish-born diplomat who in 1911 was knighted by King George V, is executed for his role in Ireland’s Easter Rising.

Casement was an Irish Protestant who served as a British diplomat during the early part of the 20th century. He won international acclaim after exposing the illegal practice of slavery in the Congo and parts of South America. Despite his Ulster Protestant roots, he became an ardent supporter of the Irish independence movement and after the outbreak of World War I traveled to the United States and then to Germany to secure aid for an Irish uprising against the British.

Germany, which was at war with Great Britain, promised limited aid, and Casement was transported back to Ireland in a German submarine. On April 21, 1916, just a few days before the outbreak of the Easter Rising in Dublin, he landed in Kerry and was picked up by British authorities almost immediately. By the end of the month, the Easter Rising had been suppressed and a majority of its leaders executed. Casement was tried separately because of his illustrious past but nevertheless was found guilty of treason on June 29. On August 3, he was hanged in London.

Sir Roger Casement hanged - HISTORY

By Shaun Ivory

Roger Casement was born in Dublin on September 1, 1864. He served for many years as a distinguished British Consul in Mozambique, Angola and the Congo Free State (he came to further prominence in the latter, forcing the King of Belgium by sheer diplomacy and bluff, to re-consider the appalling treatment of the Congolese people in 1908.) and later Brazil.

For his services to Britain he was awarded a knighthood in 1911, retiring from the diplomatic service through ill-health and settling once more in Dublin. Despite his proven loyalty to the Crown, however, he chose to take up the Republican cause, helping to establish the Irish National Volunteers in 1913.

He viewed the outbreak of war between Germany and the Allies in August 1914 as an opportunity to drum up support for the Republicans, calling them to arms.

He travelled to Limburg, Germany to recruit Irish prisoners of war there in prison camps, with the idea of obtaining their release so that they could return to Ireland and fight the British there as a brigade. But the small number who put themselves forward as being prepared to respond gave him little encouragement, all no doubt aware that should the rebellion fail they would be liable for the death penalty.

Nevertheless, he set about securing a shipment of arms for the volunteers in Ireland. In all of these German negotiations two allies assisted Casement: Sergeant Daniel Bailey (or Beverly) and Capt. Robert Monteith, of ‘A’ Company 1st Battalion of the Irish Brigade. Monteith was by far the most able, having served 16 years in the British Army, honourably and with great distinction in several campaigns and battles, from India, the Boer War, Cape Colony and the Orange Free State.

On being honourably discharged in 1911 he worked for several years as a civil servant at Dundalk, eventually marrying a widow with three children.
What turned him from a proud retired British soldier into a member of the Irish Citizens’ Army was witnessing several incidents of brutality and savagery meted out by Dublin Metropolitan Police and the Royal Irish Constabulary for no apparent reason.

So the brigade idea foundered but the shipment of rifles was still promised.
They would provide a German cargo vessel, formerly the Libau, now disguised as a Norwegian trader Aud and 20,000 Russian (Mosin-Nagant) 1891 rifles with ammunition…but no German officers or expertise. Casement protested that the provision should be for at least 100,000 rifles but the Germans baulked at this, saying the vessel would be unable to cope with even half that amount.

Before leaving Germany, Casement handed his personal papers to a good friend, Dr Charles Curry, staying with him at Riederau on the Ammsee, Zungerbecken Lake, Upper Bavaria.

He embarked for Ireland with Bailey and Monteith in the submarine SM U-20 a day after the Aud sailed but not before sending another recruit, Irish-American John McGoey, to travel quickly via Denmark to Dublin with orders to ‘get the Heads in Ireland to call off the Rising and merely try to land the arms and distribute them’.

Impermanently remembered – Roger Casement and Tourism

While awaiting execution in Pentonville prison Sir Roger Casement sent a letter to his cousin Gertrude Bannister in which he wrote “Take my body back with you and let it lie in the old churchyard in Murlough Bay.”

Roger Casement was a frequent visitor to Ballycastle, and obviously admired the beauty and wildness of Murlough Bay – something I understand from my visit there.

There was for many years a Celtic cross monument to Casement and his fellow 1916 Republicans overlooking Murlough Bay, which was installed in 1929. It was the site of an annual pilgrimage for decades, until the top half of it was destroyed in 1956, in retaliation against an IRA attack on the Murlough RAF.

Roger Casement memorial plinth in Murlough Bay – From Wikipedia

During my visit to Murlough Bay, I did not notice this plinth which is all that remains of the original Celtic Cross. Apparently each August there is a small memorial held in his honour at Murlough by Republican Sinn Féin.

Roger Casement, Ulster’s latest tourist attraction? The Belfast Telegraph asked at question with regards to plans to celebrate the memory of Roger Casement by Moyle District Council.

CONTROVERSIAL historical figure, Sir Roger Casement, could help boost tourism in the area of Northern Ireland he was brought up.

Sinn Fein councillor Cara McShane asked:

It is a great shame that Roger Casement is not already a key part of our Town Heritage Trail and our tourism programme and the incorporation of his life into Moyle’s Tourism Strategy is long overdue.

The subject of the article is at face value simply a question about how to spend funds on tourism initiatives. But the article is primed with the trigger word controversial, in block capitals, and without any explanation for why Roger Casement is controversial. In the Republic of Ireland Casement is never introduced in the media as controversial, as he is considered a hero. The only controversy associated with Casement is to whether the British Government forged his diaries (which now appears to be undoubtedly the case).

Creating memorials to the war dead, in order to attract tourists, is straight forward so long as everyone supports the same side. This would have been the case in post-World War 1 Cannes. But when there are great divisions in society, then memorials risk instead becoming territorial markers and part of the evolving political landscape. Casement is a hero to nationalists, just as King William of Orange is a hero to unionists – with reference to his memorial in Carrickfergus.

The trial and execution of Roger Casement

Sir John Lavery’s painting of the treason trial of Sir Roger Casement

After the execution of the two surviving signatories of the 1916 Proclamation (James Connolly and Sean McDermott) on 12 May the Crown had one final score to settle with the leadership of the rising. Sir Roger Casement, career diplomat, humanitarian and British civil servant, had been the first of the leaders of the rising to be arrested. He was the last to be tried and executed.

The Asquith government had initially decided that he would be quickly court-martialled and shot. But, informed by the strong negative reaction to the executions in Dublin the Government began to be attracted to the idea of civil trial for treason. A form of ‘show trial’ in which ‘justice would be seen to be done’. The attraction was one of rehabilitation. Some of the international criticism drawn down on the heads of the Asquith government for the methods used to deal with the leaders of the rising (a system amounting to virtual drumhead courts martial) could be deflected by a robust and open prosecution of Casement.

There was, however, an unfortunate corollary embedded in the governmental logic. Their forum for the ex post facto validation of General Sir John Maxwell and the Dublin executions, would also become Casement’s platform for the justification of the rising and the lionization of its leaders. If they had looked back to the trial of Robert Emmet in Dublin in 1803 they could have been forewarned. Just because the result of both was a foregone conclusion did not mean they would not have to share the propaganda value of a public trial process.


Casement’s defence was organized by George Gavan Duffy. Duffy was a successful London solicitor, the son of the Young Ireland leader, Charles Gavan Duffy. The Casement trial would prompt him to abandon his London legal practice and become a Sinn Fein MP in 1918. Gavan Duffy, with some difficulty, managed to engage the services of Serjeant A.M.Sullivan (the son of the former owner of the Nation newspaper, A.M.Sullivan) to defend Casement. No senior British-based barrister would take the brief.

Sullivan was a Crown law officer in Ireland but had been called to the English Bar and was, therefore, entitled to plead at the Old Bailey. Casement’s desire was to conduct a defence based on an acceptance of the facts of the case. However, he would emphatically deny that he was guilty of treason on foot of those facts. His contention would be that his loyalty was to an Irish republic not to the English Crown.

Sullivan, however, persuaded, or browbeat, his client into a more reductive line of defence. Casement was to be tried under the same treason statute—of the medieval King Edward III—as Robert Emmet had been.

This held that the crime of treason had been committed ‘if a man be adherent to the King’s enemies in his realm’. Sullivan would contend that Casement, in his dealings with the Germans, had not threatened the King in his own realm. There was a hopeful precedent in the case of Colonel Arthur Lynch. Lynch had been a leader of the Irish Brigade during the Boer War. A similar defence had been entered in his case but he had been convicted and sentenced to death. Lynch, however, had been reprieved. Sullivan was hoping for similar treatment for Casement.

But there was another reason for acceding to Sullivan’s insistence that his line of defence be adopted. Casement, famously, had recorded many of his homosexual exploits in a series of notebooks. These were in the possession of the prosecution. Adopting Sullivan’s defence strategy, a plea based on a technicality and on legal argument, would not allow the prosecution to introduce the diaries in evidence. Prodigious use was made of the ‘Black Diaries’ covertly, both before and after the trial, but they were not produced in the Old Bailey. However, much like Robert Emmet’s letters to Sarah Curran in 1803 they were allowed to hang in the air above the proceedings. In the case of Emmet the threat was that Sarah Curran would be prosecuted if he challenged the Crown’s evidence against him.

Casement’s trial opened on 26 June. Leading for the Prosecution was Sir Frederick Smith (formerly F.E. Smith) successor to Sir Edward Carson as Attorney General.

Witnesses were called who had been prisoners of war in the German camps from which Casement had hoped to recruit his Irish Brigade. All identified him but also acknowledged that they had been told that they would not be fighting for Germany but for Ireland. A number of witnesses identified Casement as having landed on Banna Strand.

After the prosecution case concluded Sullivan rose to enter a motion to have the indictment quashed. He argued that the allegation of treason was bad in law and that in order to secure a conviction it was essential that Casement should have been in the King’s realm when he attempted to persuade the Irish POWs to change allegiance.

The judges ruled otherwise. They held that a treasonable offence committed by one of His Majesty’s subjects was liable to trial under Common Law wherever that offence was committed. Sullivan’s strategy, unpromising from the outset, was now in tatters.

Sullivan’s address to the jury, in the light of the failure of his own defence strategy, now pivoted towards the defence originally advocated by his client, i.e. that he owed his loyalty to an Irish Republic and not the British Crown, so that he could not be guilty of treason.

In his own concluding remarks F.E.Smith reiterated the Crown’s allegation that ‘German gold’ was behind the rebellion [already denied by both Pearse and Casement] and concluded:

If those facts taken together, his journey to Germany, his speeches when in Germany, the inducements he held out to these soldiers, the freedom which he there enjoyed, the cause which he pursued in Ireland . . . satisfy you of his guilt, you must give expression to that view in your verdict.

The direction by the Lord Chief Justice [Rufus Isaacs, Lord Reading] to the jury left them with little alternative but to convict Casement. The jury took less than an hour to find Casement guilty of treason.

Casement now took advantage of the opportunity that had been denied Pearse, MacDonagh and Connolly and the other leaders of the rebellion, to offer an explanation of the objectives of the leadership of the Easter rising. His peroration was, arguably, the finest republican valedictory since that of Emmet more than a century before. He concluded …

Ireland is treated today among the nations of the world as if she were a convicted criminal. If it be treason to fight against such an unnatural fate as this, then I am proud to be a rebel, and shall cling to my “rebellion” with the last drop of my blood.

A failed appeal delayed Casement’s execution and allowed a head of steam to build up behind a campaign to have him reprieved. It was during this period that tactical use was made of the Black Diaries in order to influence newspaper coverage against Casement and dampen the enthusiasm of actual and potential supporters (such as John Redmond and George Bernard Shaw)

Casement was hanged in Pentonville Prison on 3 August, 1916. As with the other leaders of the Easter rising, his body was buried in quicklime in the prison cemetery. In 1965, a year before the country commemorated the fiftieth anniversary of the rising, Casment’s body was repatriated and interred in Glasnevin cemetery in Dublin. He was afforded a state funeral that was attended by President Eamon de Valera, the last surviving commandant of Easter Week.

Roger Casement: The Gay Irish Humanitarian Who Was Hanged On a Comma

In the late 1920s, T. E. Lawrence contemplated writing a biography of Sir Roger Casement, with whom he had much in common &mdash both were famous for speaking out on behalf of dark-skinned men treated badly by empires, and for having sex with them. Casement&rsquos career was extraordinary even compared with Lawrence of Arabia&rsquos: While serving as British consul in the Belgian Congo, he was instructed by the Foreign Office to prepare a report on any atrocities that King Leopold&rsquos men might be committing. He returned in 1904 with tales of severed hands and ten-year-olds enslaved, and the Casement Report became a national sensation. From the rubber estates of the Congo to the rubber estates of Peru he went, and found a system equally inhumane &mdash if anything worse, because the Putamayo Indians had a &ldquodocility of temperament in singular contrast with the vigorous savagery of the far abler African,&rdquo and because the company responsible was not Belgian but British. The great humanitarian &ldquoCongo Casement&rdquo was knighted in 1911.

Five years later, he was hanged for treason and thrown naked in a pit of lime, having been caught importing German arms to Ireland for the Easter Rising. He had also gone to German POW camps to recruit Irish detainees for the revolt, an effort warmly embraced by the Kaiser but which produced only three takers. Public pleas to have Casement&rsquos death sentence commuted &mdash from George Bernard Shaw, Arthur Conan Doyle, and G. K. Chesterton, among others &mdash went nowhere, because word was quietly spread that any statement in praise of the defendant might later prove embarrassing: The British government had in its possession pornographic &ldquoBlack Diaries,&rdquo which recorded Casement&rsquos homosexual encounters in scandalous detail, including how much he paid for them, as well as other measurements. (To be fair, the &ldquoWhite Diaries&rdquo describe his expenses down to the last peseta in an equally meticulous fashion.)

It was the Black Diaries that undid T. E. Lawrence&rsquos project. The British Home Office refused to let him see them, and in his opinion &mdash which, on this subject, was more informed than the average man&rsquos &mdash Casement&rsquos biography could not be written without them.

But where Lawrence of Arabia failed, Mario Vargas Llosa has persevered. His newest novel is a fictionalized account of Casement&rsquos life. (It has not been released in English yet, but Graeme Wood of The Atlantic has written a review .) It is called The Dream of the Celt , from the title of a poem Casement wrote in 1898, while in the Congo. Casement had a bug in his brain about Ireland even then his coworkers quickly learned not to engage him on the topic. His letters home were full of Irish stuff, and, as is traditional for those in the grip of Celtic mania, some of it was poetry &mdash decent poetry, even. Consider this parody of Sir Henry Newbolt&rsquos famous ode to Ireland (&ldquoDown thy valleys, Ireland, Ireland / Still thy spirit wanders mad&rdquo), which he wrote in a letter to a friend two days after the Newbolt poem first appeared, and which is not at all bad as verse:

In a funny twist for a man fated to be hanged on a comma, Casement&rsquos Congo report was almost ruined by inept punctuation. Erring on the side of caution, his publisher decided that the public edition would omit the full names of all towns and tribes and all individuals except those who had given Casement specific permission to cite them. The effect on the reader was thereby much diminished:

His Putamayo Report was equally celebrated but far less successful in the practical sense, since the worst culprits went unpunished and the system was not reformed. The main Peruvian tycoon, Julio Cesar Arana, became a senator and died in his bed at 88. Arana wrote to Casement when the latter was being held in prison on his treason charge, asking, with indignation still fresh, that Casement retract his &ldquocalumnious&rdquo charges and &ldquoconfess before the human tribunal your guilt . . . regarding your dealings in the Putamayo business.&rdquo

However, Casement was invited by the British ambassador in Washington to discuss his Putamayo findings with the man whose business it was, according to the Monroe Doctrine: President William Howard Taft. An embassy staffer, writing years after the fact, described the juxtaposition:

To clarify a misunderstood point: When Casement said he was &ldquohanged on a comma,&rdquo he was complaining about his lawyer, not the law. Casement&rsquos original intention was to stake his defense on a romantic speech (written for him by Shaw) claiming that Irishmen could hardly be disloyal to England, not being Englishmen to begin with. The comparison he drew was to the Czech hero Tomas Masaryk, who had been &ldquoloyal&rdquo to the Austrian empire insofar as he had served in the Reichsrat, but had begun organizing for Czechoslovak independence once war broke out, making him a traitor in one sense and a patriot in another. Britain lionized Masaryk it would be inconsistent not to lionize (or at least tolerate) Casement.

But it was difficult enough to find a barrister willing to take Casement as a client at all, and finding one willing to argue the affirmative validity of treason during wartime was simply impossible. The man Casement settled upon, Serjeant Sullivan, insisted upon a different defense, the one about the comma. (The punctuation issue is too complicated to explain, but this summary is clear enough. The question is whether or not the treason statute specifies that the crime must be committed &ldquoin the realm,&rdquo which Casement&rsquos crimes, having taken place in Germany, were not.) This defense went nowhere, as you would expect, prompting Casement to write, &ldquoGod deliver from such antiquaries as these, to hang a man&rsquos life upon a comma and throttle him with a semi-colon.&rdquo He was stripped of his knighthood and hanged.

An Irish death-bed convert to Catholicism who scaled the heights of fame only to be brought down by a notorious court case in which Sir Edward Carson and homosexuality each played a leading role &mdash and you thought Oscar Wilde was the only one. In fact, Roger Casement might have more in common with Wilde than he does with T. E. Lawrence, who never had to endure such public humiliation. But Casement&rsquos story is happier than Wilde&rsquos in at least one respect. Even after his release from prison, Wilde hardly ever stopped complaining that the ignorant philistines had convicted an innocent man, but Casement faced his punishment manfully, on the logic that though he was disgraced, at least he came by his disgrace honestly. As his prosecutor put it in opening arguments, &ldquoHe has played a desperate hazard, and he has lost it. Today, the forfeit is claimed.&rdquo

Watch the video: The only extant footage of Roger Casement 1864-1916 (June 2022).