21 April 1916: The capture of Sir Roger Casement at Banna strand, Tralee Co Kerry on this day. He had been a distinguished member of the British consular service before the War but had become increasingly disillusioned with the British Empire and its role in the World, none more so on how Ireland was treated within it. On the outbreak of War he made his way to Germany to enlist its help to overthrow British rule in Ireland. But he felt that what help was on offer would not be enough to be successful. He requested a boat to take him back home and had decided within himself to use his powers to try and convince the IRB not to go ahead with a Rising.
After a series of mishaps he and his companions were transported to the Irish coast by the submarine U19 and near to where the SS Aud was attempting to land arms for the Rising to take place. But the U19, failing to find the ‘Aud Norge’, eventually landed Casement, Monteith and Bailey by dinghy. The dinghy overturned in surf on Banna Strand, near Ardfert. Casement had been ill for some time before the journey and was far too weak to travel or run. He took refuge in ‘McKenna’s Fort’ while Bailey and Monteith tried to make contact with the local IRB. However the local Irish constabulary were alerted Casement was arrested, as were Monteith and Bailey shortly afterwards .
“When I landed in Ireland that morning (about 3 am) swamped and swimming ashore on an unknown strand, I was happy for the first time for over a year. Although I knew that this fate waited on me, I was for one brief spell happy and smiling once more. I cannot tell you what I felt. The sand hills were full of skylarks rising in the dawn, the first I had heard in years—the first sound I heard through the surf was their song as I waded through the breakers and they kept rising all the time up to the old rath at Currshone where I stayed and sent the others on and all round were primroses and wild violets and the singing of the skylarks in the air and I was back in Ireland again.”
Roger Casement to his sister, Mrs Nina Newman from Pentonville Gaol 25 July 1916
They were taken to Tralee RIC barracks for questioning before being dispatched to Dublin. From here Casement was rushed on to London and imprisoned in Pentonville Prison. He was charged with ‘Treason’. Put on trial his defence team put up a formidable set of arguments against his conviction but the evidence from the British perspective was damning. In addition the notorious ‘Black Diaries’ detailing his alleged Homosexual activities were used to undermine his reputation. He was hanged at Pentonville in August 1916. His remains was returned to Ireland in 1965 and he was given a State Funeral in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.