Sir, – Recently a plaque was unveiled at 15 Merrion Square in Dublin to Violet Gibson who tried to kill the Italian leader Benito Mussolini on April 7th, 1926 (News, October 20th).
While I have great sympathy for her, I believe that the plaque should be removed.
She was a convert to Catholicism and suffered from religious mania and had at one time tried to kill a female friend with a knife in order to repeat the Sacrifice of Abraham and Isaac mentioned in the Old Testament. In 1923, she was confined to an asylum in London but was released in 1924. She went to live in Rome where she tried to commit suicide. When she was being questioned by the police after shooting Mussolini, she said she had orders to kill the Pope or Mussolini. Quite obviously, Mussolini was an easier target than the Pope. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – The suggestion that Violet Gibson was an anti-fascist feminist hero is unfounded. In truth, she was deeply disturbed and was committed to an insane asylum. More disturbingly, in 1924, according to a recent biography by Frances Stonor Saunders, it is described how a mentally deranged Gibson tried to ritually sacrifice a young girl the same year.
Dublin City Council seems more interested in projecting present agendas onto the past than in accurately representing the facts. – Yours, etc,
Sir, – As CDC Armstrong notes (Letters, October 25th), it was the second Lord Ashbourne, the brother not the father of Violet Gibson, who sent a telegram of sympathy to Mussolini after she shot him in the nose.
Her brother, “Mad Willie”, travelled to Rome to retrieve his sister but the Carabinieri found him wandering around the Colosseum in a saffron-coloured kilt with a tortoise in his sporran.
Violet returned to Britain accompanied by her sister and a nurse.– Yours, etc,
Dr JOHN DOHERTY,
Co Dhún na nGall.