God Save Ireland!
by Steve Payne
says: what if the Irish patriot, poet, revolutionary, and nationalist
Roger Casement had escaped his miscarrigage of justice? Please note that the
opinions expressed in this post do not necessarily reflect the views of the
On June 29th 1916,
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on this day the liberal journalist
Henry W. Nevinson shouted out "God save Ireland!
" from the back
of the Old Bailey when the Irish patriot, poet, revolutionary, and
nationalist Roger Casement was acquitted of treason.
Nevertheless, he was stripped of his British Honours; in 1911, Casement
had been knighted by George V as Knight Bachelor for his efforts on behalf
of the Amazonian Indians, having been reluctantly appointed Companion of
the Order of St Michael and St George (CMG) in 1905 for his Congo work.
Unsuprisingly, no honours would be forthcoming for his work on behalf of
Because his involvement in the "Irish Plan" was unquestioned; during
his time in Germany (pictured) he recruited an "Irish Brigade" consisting
of Irish prisoners-of-war in the prison camp of Limburg an der Lahn, who
would be trained to fight against Britain.
"I maintain that I have a natural right to be tried
in that natural jurisdiction, Ireland my own country"Unfortunately
for the prosecution team, it seemed that the
medieval Treason Act applied only to activities carried out on
English soil. And they failed to convince the court that the
inclusion of a comma in the text widened the scope to include "in the
realm or elsewhere" meaning where acts were done and not just where the
"King's enemies" may be. And so the court decided that Casement was not to
be "hanged by a comma".
Among the many people who pleaded for his clemency were Sir Arthur Conan
Doyle, who became acquainted with Casement through the work of the Congo
Reform Association, W. B. Yeats and George Bernard Shaw. Edmund Dene Morel
could not visit him in jail, being under attack for his pacifist position.
Although the outcome of the case upheld the honour of the judicial system,
the consequences for the British War Effort would be huge.
Encouraged by Casement his supporters would take their arguments to the
United States where they would cause immense difficulties for the American
politicians seeking to enter the war on the Allied side.
says in reality he was
hanged at Pentonville Prison in London on 3 August 1916, at the age of
51. He was received into the Catholic Church while awaiting execution and
went to his death, he said, with the body of his God as his last meal.
Nevison decided that, in the end, he would
remain silent. Might he be imprisoned for saying such a thing? As he was
English, did he even have a right to say it? Perhaps the Irish would take
against him? To view guest historian's comments on this post please visit
Today in Alternate History web site.
Steve Payne, Editor of
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Imagine what would be, if history had occurred a bit
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