Danny Doherty and William Fleming grew up in Derry. They were from Republican families and each had relatives that were imprisoned at one time or another for their political ideals and paramilitary activities. They followed in their families’ footsteps and each joined Na Fianna Éireann at a young age, before funneling into the Derry Brigade as soon as they were able.
Each man knew what the cost might be. They knew their membership in the IRA could land them in prison or in the grave but they felt it was worth the risk. Danny Doherty was a veteran with six years of active service in the Derry Brigade but Willie Fleming was younger and greener with only two years under his belt when the two men were killed (or overkilled) in a hail of gunfire on this day in 1984.
On this day in 1916, Sir Roger Casement, an English Knight and Irish patriot was hanged for treason against the crown. He was executed in an English jail, despite his demand to be tried in Ireland, the land of his birth and his heart.
Forty-five years ago today the Parachute Regimen of the British Army was sent to Belfast to take part in Operation Demetrius, the fancy codename the government used for internment. They were to detain and arrest anyone who they thought was either involved in or supporting the Provisional IRA, but sending the Paras in to do this was rather like setting off a grenade to stop a fist fight. Over the next few days in the Ballymurphy area alone, eleven civilians were killed. Many who were killed were just trying to get away from the trouble and some were shot while helping others.
After the Easter Rising of 1916, Dublin was a shell of a city. The force used by the English to put down the uprising had reduced a large portion of the city to rubble and ash, and the citizens were starting to show their anger. During the actual battle, many were frustrated with the fighters on both sides who were keeping them from their jobs, their paychecks, and their daily lives, but when their very livelihood and their homes were threatened by the indiscriminate shelling, even those who were not political, raised their voices against the onslaught.
On May 4th, 1916, the executions of the leaders of the Easter Rising continued. Joseph Mary Plunkett, William (Willie) Pearse, Edward (Ned) Daly, and Michael O’Hanrahan were shot in the yard at Kilmainham Gaol in the early hours of the morning.
On this day, 99 years ago, James Connolly was executed by the English for his role in the Easter Rising of 1916 and his death caused anger to explode all over Ireland. This is not to say that the death of Sean MacDiarmada who was executed on this day as well for the same reasons, was any lesser of a sore point to be mad or upset about, or that any executions before them were either. In fact, the decision to kill the leaders after secret trials still haunts the British to this day. It is only the fact that James Connolly was driven to his death in Kalmainham Gaol by ambulance and shot after being tied to a chair that makes his execution any different from the other leaders.