Ireland, Germany and the Freedom of the Seas | A Possible Outcome of the War of 1914 by Roger Casement

A widely available version of Roger Casement’s political writings on Ireland as collected in 1914 in Casement’s own handwriting is a unique source in that the text constitutes what he viewed as his key writings on Ireland in the context of history, pre-First World War politics and international relations, with annotations delineating some of his later reflections and some amplification of his arguments.

This text is entitled Ireland, Germany and the Freedom of the Seas: A Possible Outcome of the War of 1914, an original version of which was discussed as being ready for publication while Casement was staying with Joe McGarrity on the date of the fatal shootings at Bachelors Walk after the landing of guns from the Asgard at Howth on 26 July 1914. Published in New York and Philadelphia in 1914, this is the text of some of his then more recent political writings, later editions of which have appeared under the title The Crime against Europe. Casement apparently had access while in prison before his execution in 1916 to this 1914 publication. On the cover sheet he had written “50,000 sold and distributed.” He had also written on the cover-page “This is ‘The Crime against Ireland’ minus one (VII) ‘The Elsewhere Empire.’”

The actual text consists of thirty-nine densely printed double columned pages and is a collection and revision of some formerly published and some unpublished writings written between 1911 and 1914, retained in the Home Office files heavily annotated in Casement’s hand. The draft pages in his own hand that are in other connected file detail comparisons with previous attempts to bring foreign powers to assist earlier attempts by Irish revolutionaries to fight for independence—the French at the end of the eighteenth century, and the Spanish before that.

In a preface, specific to the American editions entitled “To Free the Seas, Free Ireland,” Casement’s prison annotations note that “Ireland, Germany and the Freedom of the Seas” was written “in the thick of the Carson fight,” and that he showed it in full to only three people: “Bigger, Alice Green and Hobson.” These were the three to whom he was closest intellectually and politically, and the essays that constitute these writings reveal the extent to which his passionate interest in Irish history—shared with Alice Stopford Green, whose historical writings he admired, encouraged, and supported—partly drove his analysis of contemporary politics.

Roger Casement, handwritten annotation in the text of Casement’s Ireland, Germany and Freedom of the Seas: A Possible Outcome of the War of 1914 (New York and Philadelphia: Irish Press Bureau, 1914)

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