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With Wooden Sword: A Portrait of Francis Sheehy-Skeffington, Militant Pacifist based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
My day job often involves shipping books hither, thither and yon. Sometimes this means that I get curious about some of them, as a downside to my job it could be worse. This one passed over my desk and I was curious. Here was a man who had taken his wife's name in 1903, who left his job because he couldn't remain registrar of a university that wouldn't accept women on an equal footing as men and a pacifist who died in the 1916 Rising. I couldn't resist. Add to this that some persons in the past had heavily underlined this last remaining circulating copy, making it hard to read. I shipped it off and a few weeks later it returned. And I started into the task of pencil erasing followed by reading the just-erased pages. Getting myself caught up in the story of this facinating man who had been completely ignored in my education in the History of Ireland. When I heard about feminism in Ireland it appeared to be something that came out of no-where in the 1960's, there had been rumblings about getting the vote but it wasn't about the other issues of feminism, how wrong I was. Here was a man talking about, and dealing with equality issues, standing up for them to the level of giving up his job for his principles and altogether being a good guy. And then the 1916 rising happened. This man decided that the looting was out of order and that a group of concerned citizens should band together, peacefully, to prevent it. He was unlucky enough to be arrested by Captain J. C. Bowen-Colthurst, a man who, in hindsight, would appear to have been not only a racist and religious fanatic but also suffering from some pretty bad emotional scarring from his experiences in Mons during the retreat. He had a record of instability. He ordered Sheehy-Skeffington and two others to be shot after a short period of detention. Sheehy-Skeffington became, some believe, the first true Martyr to the Rising, he was unarmed at the time of his arrest and was a known pacifist.Then he tried to cover his tracks, ably assisted by the British Army. He eventually was courtmarshalled, declared insane, and sent to insane asylums in England first and then Canada, where he lived out the rest of his life until his death in 1965.In finishing it I was angry. I had never heard of him, never heard of his death, live on a street named Colthurst (a different branch of the family but still...) but have rarely heard of anywhere named after Sheehy-Skeffington; I had never really heard of pacificst involved in the 1916 rising, or of early 20th Century feminsm and felt deprived of a chunk of history that is important and necessary information to be holding on to. I also felt deprived of a man who might have done a lot of good for this country if he had survived.I liked the biography, there was enough detail to be interesting and you could tell that Leah Levenson liked Francis Sheehy-Skeffington and tried to put forward a good view of him. An enjoyable read.