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Joe McKelvey's Last Letter

The Last Letter Of Lieut. General Joe McKelvey 1922

“The way to Freedom is a hard and bloody one. I can only hope and pray that my death will be a contributory factor towards the great end for which so much suffering is and has been endured — our Independence.”



Mountjoy Prison, 3 a.m.,
Friday Morning
My Dearest, Dearest Mother,
How can I tell you the news I have to let you know? I don’t care at all for my own sake, but I grieve for the pain it will cause you, my loving mother. A document has just been read to me informing me that, as a reprisal for the shooting of Sean Hales, I am to be executed at 8 a.m. this morning.
I can honestly tell you that news hasn’t upset me one little bit, and I only hope I shall face the firing squad with equal equanimity.
Lam Mellows, Rory O’Connor and Dick Barrett are, I think, to go along with myself, at least they have been brought with me. I haven’t yet seen the Chaplain, but he is to be brought to me; however, I feel quite happy , and I hope God will accept my sacrifice for Himself.
I feel very much the fact that it is my own countrymen who have sentenced me to death, but, I pray to God that by the deaths of those of us who are to be executed by these men, it may open their eyes to the dreadful crime and wrong against their better nature; against everything we hold dear, and at the bidding of our old enemy, England; waging such and relentless war against the Republic which once they would have died to uphold.
4 a.m. — The priest (Fr. McMahon) has just been with me, and I now feel supremely happy, being completely reconciled to God’s Holy will. I am to receive the Viaticum and the Pope’s blessing.
Father McMahon has promised to write to you to let you know how I have met this. I am sending you everything I possess here, including my father’s cuff links.
Now, mother, as the time is growing short, and as I want to see my comrades before we go, I must draw to a close. So Good-bye, good-bye and keep you, my mother. Give my heart’s love to all friends. Pray for me, dearest. Your loving son, Joe