Little Stories

Little Prints

2016

Fiona Marron

'Chaos, Drypoint'

Chaos reigned all over the city.

One of the most tragic cases among the civilian casualties of the 1916 Rising was that of Francis Sheehy Skeffington who was murdered while in military custody.

Born in Cavan in 1878, Skeffington married Hanna Sheehy, from a notable Co. Cork nationalist family. As a token of his commitment to equality of the sexes he adopted her surname, thereafter calling himself Sheehy Skeffington.
 The couple worked together for a number of socialist and radical causes, including women’s suffrage. He co-founded the “Irish Citizen” in 1912.

Sheehy Skeffington was a pacifist and campaigned against recruitment following the outbreak of WW1, thereby receiving a sentence of six months imprisonment. He supported Home Rule and disapproved of the increasing militarism of the Irish Volunteers. He tried to impress on Pearse and Connolly that civil disobedience was a more powerful weapon than rebellion.

He was so concerned at the scale of looting he organized a citizens’ police force to maintain law and order. Tuesday of Easter week, while out walking, he was arrested in Rathmines, for no apparent reason. He was detained in Portobello Barracks.

The next morning he was shot at the behest of Major Bowen Colthurst. Due mainly to the intervention of a conscientious senior officer, Colthurst was court-martialed, found guilty but insane.


Hanna Sheehy Skeffington refused to accept monetary damages awarded subsequently.