Wednesday, April 05, 2006


Remembering the Rising - Skeffington murdered

Skeffington, a pacifist, was brutally killedContinuing United Irelander's look back at the Easter Rising as we approach the 90th anniversary of the event, today I will focus on some more innocent Irish civilians who were brutally murdered in cold blood by the British forces during the fighting, most notably the pacifist Francis Sheehy Skeffington who was killed in horrific circumstances. (The following information is taken from a supplement in the Irish Times):

"At around 8pm on Tuesday evening, Francis Sheehy Skeffington was walking from the city centre towards his home in Rathmines. His efforts to organise a civic body to prevent looting had attracted both admirers and detractors, and as he approached Portobello Bridge a crowd followed him, some of its members calling his name. A young officer of the Royal Irish Rifles at a checkpoint on Portobello Bridge assumed that Skeffington was causing trouble and had him detained and sent to Portobello Barracks. Under interrogation, he pointed out that he was against militarism and in favour of passive resistance.

"At about 11.10pm, Capt JC Bowen-Colthurst, a veteran of the Battle of Mons who had been invalided home, led a raid on the Camden Street home and tobacco shop of Alderman James Kelly, who he wrongly suspected of rebel sympathies. He took Skeffington with him as a "hostage" and ordered him to say his prayers. When Skeffington refused to do so, Bowen-Colthurst said his own prayer: "Oh Lord, if it shall please Thee to the life of this man forgive him for Christ's sake."

"Coming out onto Rathmines Road with his hostage in tow, Bowen-Colthurst and his party met two youths, Laurence Byrne and JJ Coade, who were coming from a sodality meeting. After a brief interrogation, Bowen-Colthurst drew his pistol and shot Coade dead. The party proceeded to Kelly's shop and threw a grenade through the window. Kelly was absent, but two journalists - Thomas Dickson, who was Scottish and disabled, and Patrick MacIntyre - were arrested and taken back to the barracks, along with Skeffington. Neither man had any connection with the Rising.

"Shortly after 10am on Wednesday morning, Bowen-Colthurst ordered that Skeffington, Dickson and MacIntyre be taken out to a yard beside the guardroom "for the purpose of speaking to them". He then summoned seven soldiers and ordered the three men to walk to a wall at the back of the yard. As the men turned to face him, Bowen-Colthurst ordered the soldiers to fire. The men fell, and the soldiers filed out. A lieutenant who heard the volley entered the yard and saw that, though the other two were clearly dead, Skeffington's leg was still twitching. When this was reported to Bowen-Colthurst, he ordered four soldiers to fire another volley into the body. The three bodies were wrapped in sheets and buried in the barrack square.

"In June, Bowen-Colthurst was tried by court martial for the three murders. He was found guilty but insane, and committed to Broadmoor asylum."

Here we see the true colours of the British forces. Disgracefully murdering civilians!

It's not like this was an isolated incident either. Of course prior to the Rising, in August 1914, British troops fired into a jeering crowd killing civilians. In the first Bloody Sunday in 1920, they opened fire on a crowd of GAA supporters as well as GAA players killing many and in 1972 they murdered civil rights protesters in Derry.

Some silly people would have us believe that the Easter rebels were the bad guys and that the British troops were the good guys.

I think most Irish people have more sense than to buy into that guff.

We won't forget those civilians who the British murdered during the Rising nor will we forget the bravery of the Easter rebels who sought to free us from the oppression of British rule.

The British invaded Ireland, stole Irish land, they discriminated against Catholics for centuries, they merged the country with Britain and reneged on their promise to grant rights to Catholics, they denied Irish people Home Rule despite the majority wanting it for decades, they then even went so far as to talk about splitting the nation in two and when a group of rebels decided that enough was enough and decided to fight the British - the British then went and murdered Irish civilians!

Now think about that and ask this story, who were the bad guys and who were the good guys?

I know where I stand. And I will remember the courage of the Easter rebels.


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