#OnThisDay 1917 Éamon de Valera, prisoner #95 was released from Pentonville Prison, London. De Valera, the senior surviving leader of the Easter Rising avoided execution & had his sentence commuted to life. Dev liked to tell the story that his life was spared because of his American birth (this story he told to the visiting US president JFK at a State reception in 1963), but it was most likely that his court martial was scheduled too late after the public and popular pressure became too much on the British Gov who called a stop to the executions.
De Valera was handed a telegram saying that he was going to stand as the Sinn Fein candidate in the East Clare by-election. This was the start of a political career that would extend over fifty years.
Most of the notable leaders (Dr Kathleen Lynn, Thomas Ashe and others) of the Rising had been released from various British prisons, congregating in Pentonville before returning back to Ireland. Before they left the prison, the Irish prayed over Roger Casement’s grave. Casement’s final wish was that he be buried back home in Antrim. He would be reinterred into Glasnevin Cemetery in 1965.