On May 8 1916 the executions of the 1916 Rising’s leaders continued. Obviously exhausted by the executions of last week, the British took the weekend off. Rested, they returned to their gruesome work on Monday, executing four more rebel leaders.
By this point the Irish people were in shock. After the surrender they had hated the rebels and what they had done to their city. But now, the tide had turned. The rebels, once pariahs, had—thanks to General Maxwell—become heroes.
The Unionist journalist Warren B Wells, in a letter called “An Irish Apologia” stated: “I am not asking you to regard the executions of the rebel leaders, the sentences of penal servitude, the deportations, announced badly day after day without publication of the evidence which justified the infliction of the capital penalty, from behind the closed doors of Field Court-Martial, from the point of view of their justice, or even of their expediency. I am simply inviting you to endeavour to understand their effect on that Irish public which read of them ‘with something of the feeling of helpless rage with which one would watch a stream of blood seeping from under a closed door.’ ”
The Court-martials of Éamon Ceannt (Prisoner #32), Con Colbert (Prisoner #70), Seán Heuston (Prisoner #46), and Michael Mallin (Prisoner #78) at Richmond Barracks, May 3-4-5, 1916. All three face the same charge:
CHARGE: Did an act to wit did take part in an armed rebellion and in the waging of war against His Majesty the King, such act being of such a nature as to be calculated to be prejudicial to the Defence to the Realm and being done with the intention and for the purpose of assisting the enemy
PLEA (of all three): Not Guilty
(The members of the court and witnesses were duly sworn in)
VERDICT: Guilty. Death
Dermot McEvoy is the author of the The 13th Apostle: A Novel of a Dublin Family, Michael Collins, and the Irish Uprising and Irish Miscellany (Skyhorse Publishing). He may be reached at [email protected] Follow him at www.dermotmcevoy.com. Follow The 13th Apostle on Facebook here.