A manuscript found in an old filing box of documents in England has revealed that in the hours before he was executed in Dublin in 1916, the Citizens’ Army leader James Connolly returned to his Catholic faith.
The manuscript with the title ‘Daring All things – My Story’ was the unpublished autobiography of British Army chaplain George Kendall OBE and gives a first-hand account of the capture of the rebel leaders.
“I saw James Connolly twice whilst he was in hospital, the second time being on the eve of his execution.
“Speaking to me on the first visit, he said in answer to a question of mine about his attitude – ‘You must know the saying.’ ‘What saying?’ I asked. And he replied: ‘The price of liberty is eternal vigilance.’ This too was the saying I heard as I spoke to his men in the Dublin Castle hospital.
“Listening, I felt it was not my duty to condemn, or argue. Connolly was, for years, a professed agnostic, but at the hour of death, he returned to the Faith of his fathers. That night a Catholic priest was admitted to the hospital and he administered Holy Communion to Connolly and gave him absolution.
“Asked to pray, at the end, for the soldiers about to shoot him, he said: ‘I will say a prayer for all brave men who do their duty.’