RISING – Francis Sheehy-Skeffington

Francis Sheehy-Skeffington was a journalist, and pacifist from County Cavan.  He became a founding member of the Irish Socialist Party. With expectations of a defensive role in the Irish Citizen Army, he agreed to become Vice-Chairman, but resigned when it took on a military aspect.

He was a supporter of Home Rule, and initially supported the Irish Volunteers, but when they took on the militant role, he became critical of the organization.  In an interesting note, during the Rising, he advocated civil disobedience, while his wife Hanna supported the rebels by bringing food to the GPO and College of Surgeons.

Concerned with the collapse of law and order during the Rising, on Tuesday he tried to organize a citizen’s militia to prevent the looting and destruction to shops.  On his way home, he was arrested by British soldiers.  He admitted sympathy to the cause, but not to the Rising, and was held as an enemy sympathizer.

Later that evening, during a raiding party, he was held as hostage, with warnings he would be shot if the raiding party was attacked.  Two boys were stopped and advised they could be shot like dogs.  After an assault by one of the soldiers, the Captain Bowen-Colthurst shot the boys.  Francis screamed that the boys had been murdered, but was told by the Captain that he would be next.

The raiding party then destroyed with grenades the shop of loyalist Alderman James Kelly, mistaking him for Sinn Fein Alderman Tom Kelly, taking into custody two pro-British journalists.  The following morning, without trial, Bowen-Colthurst had the three men executed.  Through a report full of lies, he was allowed to keep his command, without even a reprimand.

Hanna Sheehy-Skeffington was not informed of her husband’s death, and when he did not return home, she and her sisters went around Dublin for several days looking for him.  The father of J.J. Coady went to claim his son’s body, and having seen Sheehy-Skeffington’s body, advised Hanna of her husband’s death.

About sbalagna

IAS Vice President 2012-2013; IAS President 2013-2015; 2016-2017
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