Roger Casement - Dubliner Who Gave His Life For Irish Freedom
An unlikely Irish patriot with a staunch Protestant tradition on his father’s side, Roger David Casement was orphaned at age thirteen when his father died and his mother also died when he was just nine. Raised by his father’s Ulster relatives, Roger left school at sixteen and headed out for Liverpool, England, to take on a clerical job.
Born in 1864 at Sandycove, Dublin, he took up a career with the British Civil Service and in 1903 he was the British Consul at Boma. His brief was to investigate human rights matters in the state of Congo. A detailed assignment was to probe the alleged illegal activities of Belgium’s King Leopold 11, a monarch who had personal wealth firmly on his agenda before all other matters.
Casement’s report did not spare the King who was finally forced into submission to vacate his Congo thresholds and Roger Casement’s career in the Civil Service was on a major journey to a much higher level.
In Brazil he was further commissioned to carry out another major investigation into malpractice by the authorities. In 1911 his famous report improved working conditions in Brazil for the peasant farm workers and the British government knighted Roger for his outstanding contributions to human rights issues.
In 1913, aged forty nine, he retired from the Civil Service and returned to his roots. He played a key role in founding the Irish Volunteers with Eoin MacNeill and they wrote the new associations articles of memorandum.
To raise funds and create awareness for the fledgling volunteers, Sir Roger went to America but his background in the British Civil Service Cast doubts with many Irish people.
He played a key role in the 1914 historic Howth gun running episode and this embellished his reputation amongst his Irish peers. Casement had great German connections with political leaders and when he sought assistance with the supply of arms for the Irish cause of freedom, the Germans came to his aid.
20,000 rifles10 machine guns and a range of ammunition, resembled only a small token of Casement’s expectation from the Germans. A German cargo vessel set out for Ireland with the weapons under a Norwegian flag as disguise but the British had intercepted signals and seized the ship off the Irish coast.
Sir Roger came to Banna Strand, Co. Kerry, on the 21st April 1916, courtesy of a German submarine and on coming ashore was arrested and taken to London on charges of Treason. He was found guilty and sentenced to death by hanging on 3rd August 1916.
Whilst awaiting execution he was baptised a catholic and died with the body of Christ as his final glorious meal.