Nurse Edith Cavell was shot dead in Brussels on October 12th 1915.

Ellen Quinn was shot dead in Kiltartan on November 1st 1920.

Major Robert Gregory, of Kiltartan and Britain’s Royal Flying Corps,  died in an accident in the First World War.

There is a statue of Edith Cavell between St Martin in the Fields Anglican Church and the National Portrait Gallery in London’s Trafalgar Square.

W.B. Yeats wrote a celebrated poem about Major Gregory – “An Irish Airman Foresees his Death.”

Ellen Quinn’s  life and death are not commemorated  monumentally or in verse, which is a great pity. A  truthful retelling of her story might inspire men and women of many nations to take up arms against England’s Government. 

Indeed that Government’s behaviour in Ireland and the world at large has long been a matter for shame amongst those decent English people who understand what their  various Governments, Conservative, Liberal, Labour and New Labour, have been up to.

The official Dail Eireann news sheet THEIRISH BULLETIN of  Thursday , 4th November 1920 compared the fate of  Nurse Cavell to that of Ellen Quinn.

It quoted British Foreign Office -” Sir Edward Grey is confident that the news of the execution of this noble Englishwoman will be received with horror and disgust throughout the civilised world..”.. 

For good measure  The Irish Bulletin quoted THE TIMES, which said the Germans “had killed  the English nurse and by killing her had immeasurably deepened the stain of infamy that degrades them in the eyes of the whole world.”

The BULLETIN quoted  Selbourne and Sir John Simon, the Home Secretary and the pro-British BOSTON TRANSCRIPT, all in the same vein. Did  the IRISH TIMES, perennial transcriber of British nonsense, follow the same script? I wonder.

And to be fair,  the IRISH BULLETIN quoted Herr Zimmerman, Undersecretary of State for Foreign Affairs in Berlin-

“It is indeed hard that a woman has to be executed, but think what a State which is at war will come to if it allows to pass unnoticed a crime against the safety of its armies because it is committed by a woman. No law-book in the world, least of all those dealing with war regulations, makes such a differentiation, and the female sex has but one preference according to legal usage – namely that women in a delicate condition may not be executed………Once for all the activity of our enemies has been stopped and the sentence has been carried out to frighten those who might presume on their sex to take part in enterprises punishable by death.”

The British Government whipped up such horror at the execution that it could boast that it was worth a couple of Army Corps to them as gallant men to the number of up to 100,000 flocked to their Colours.

On October 15th 2015, on the centenary of the execution, Dame Stella Rimington, former Director of MI5 revealed that Nurse Cavell had indeed been involved in activity carrying the death penalty. In demotic language, the Germans had her “Bang to Rights.”

Nurse Cavell was a brave British Patriot when Britain was at war and there was no dishonour in her conduct.

But the  poor, gallant, generous youths who were suckered into avenging her “martyrdom”were victims of a cynical crime by the British Government.

That Government was instrumental in establishing 50 years or so  THE IRISH TIMES TRUST which directs the organ which published  Dr Chris Fitzpatrick’s opinion piece on the commemoration of Kevin Barry.

Perhaps Dr Fitzpatrick will do an Opinion Piece on the  Life and  Death of Ellen Quinn. Perhaps she should be commemorated by having a Maternity Ward in the Coombe Hospital name for her. And a competition established for a poem or song to tell her story during this decade of commemoration?

Comments are closed.