Roger Casement was an Irish Nationalist and rebel who played a significant role in the events of 1916. On the 3rd August 1916 he was executed in London for his involvement in the Easter Rising.
Roger Casement was born in Sandycove in 1864 and lived there for part of his childhood. His first career was as a British Diplomat, even receiving a Knighthood for his efforts. But he would ultimately become disillusioned with imperialism. He is more famously known as an Irish Nationalist and Rebel which he became involved in 1913 after retiring from the consular service.
He became a provisional member of the Irish Volunteers and travelled around the Ireland organising paramilitary groups, making speeches and was one of the instigators in the gun running at Howth.
After the success of the Howth mission he travelled to America and Germany with the hopes of raising funds and support for the volunteers. Most of his attempts were unsuccessful but he negotiated with the German government for support and they agreed to ship 25,000 rifles and 1 millions rounds, dispatched on the ‘Aud’, to reach Ireland in time for the Easter Rising.
The Aud was originally the British merchant vessel SS Castro, she was captured in 1914 at the outbreak of the first world war by the Imperial German Navy and renamed Libau. Her relevance to Irish history began on the 9th April 1916 when disguised as Norwegian vessel ‘Aud’ and under the Command of Karl Spindler, she set sail from Baltic port of Lübeck. She was loaded up with munitions that Casement has negotiated.
But ultimately Casement felt that this wasn’t enough and believed the Irish insurrection would be a failure. He left Germany by submarine to arrive back in Ireland on Good Friday, with a plan to prevent the rebellion before it started.
But both vessels failed to rendezvous. The Aud was caught by a British Navy blockade and intercepted by British Intelligence Services. And Casement ended up stranded on Banna Strand Co. Kerry, exhausted, drenched and was soon captured.
He was brought to London to Scotland Yard to be interrogated by Major Frank Hall, who ran guns for the Ulster Volunteers and was recruited by MI5. He was tried for treason in the Old Bailey and sentenced to death. On 3rd August 1916 Casement was executed in Pentonville Prison in London.