The scrapping of the historic barrel rang out across Merrion Square yesterday with an unveiling of a plaque to Violet Gibson, an oddball Anglo-Irish schizophrenic who failed to assassinate Benito Mussolini in 1926.

Born to the well heeled Baron of Ashbourne, Gibson lived a rather fractured life in and out of psychiatric care attempting suicide on multiple occasions. Dabbling in a variety of religious fads (theosophy, Christian Science), she eventually settled on converting to a mystical brand of Catholicism, moving to Rome in 1924 after a 2 year stint in a mental asylum.

It was in Rome Violet wrote herself into the history books when under direct inspiration from schizophrenic voices in her head, angels in her words, she grazed Mussolini’s nose as the Italian dictator arrived at a function at the Capitoline Hill. Prior to this she had shot herself in the breast in honour of murdered socialist MP Giacomo Matteotti.

Only managing to graze Il Duce’s nose, after a near lynching Gibson ended up acquitted on grounds of insanity. Mussolini was conscious of not wanting to antagonise British opinion and Gibson was bundled off to spend the remainder of her life at an insane asylum in Northampton.

Not even becoming an antifascist cause célèbre in her own time, nevertheless Gibson has emerged of late as something of a girlboss icon for leftists too cynical or lethargic to examine her actual history and motivations for the attempted assasination.

Honoured in a much publicised ceremony Thursday, what progressive retellings forget to mention about Gibson is her clear apolitical homicidal tendencies even going so far as to almost ritually sacrifice a young girl in 1924 following a dabbling in dark religious mysticism. 

Hoping to recreate the sacrifice of Abraham by assaulting the girl, Gibson was found subsequently to be reading the Bible frantically after assaulting the girl.

The incident is recorded in  a psychiatric report conducted in the aftermath of the attack on Mussolini.

“Facts concerning Violet Gibson’s former life were soon made known, such as her internment on former occasions in asylums ‘in England, where she was found to be subjected to “homicidal ideas and to attacks of acute violent mania”; and her suicide, so

stubbornly attempted in a convalescent home in Rome; and a preceding attempt at homicide, when she Used a knife (an unusual weapon for criminal women) to try to kill a young girl. Her idea on this last occasion was that of repeating the sacrifice of Abraham which was sufficient to convince anyone that they had to deal with an abnormal, unbalanced, and an infirm mind”

A more vivid account is given in a 2010 biography on Gibson.

‘The girl’s hands and face were cut….On this occasion Miss Gibson was certified insane and taken to the Mental Home at Virginia Water. I saw her there soon after and she had told me she had been under the impression that she was doing something great ‘for God and his Church’

While it is alleged by some that Gibson dialled up her insanity to avoid the scaffold at her trial this runs contrary to the medical rulings of doctors both in Italy and the UK confirming her frail mental state.

Imbued with an intense martyrdom complex Gibson stated her wish to murder the Italian dictaor was to glorify God with the maverick Anglo-Irish aristrocrat keenly inspiried by the Jesuit scholar John O’Fallon Pope and his studies on mortification.

Despite a vague embrace of Christian socialism it is clear by any telling Gibson was driven by her mania and acute religious sentiment rather than anything firmly ideological. In short, Gibson falls short of what her advocates proclaim her as being.

Regardless, this hasn’t stopped her being reinvented as a plucky antifascist Joan of Arc instead of the mentally ill woman and genuinely homicidal woman she actually was. 

One of the famous ‘forgotten women’ of Irish history, Gibson has since managed to have a book, TV and radio documentaries and even songs made in her honour; it was hard to avoid coverage of yesterday’s unveiling with generous features on both RTE and Virgin Media news despite the turbulent times we live in. It would appear that a century after her death attempts are being made to make Violet Gibson a household name devoid of context.

Denoted merely as ‘antifascist’ on the plaque, naturally enough even Gibson’s Catholicism plays second fiddle to the juxtaposed ideological function certain figures want her to play in historic memory. 

With an overemphasis on the International Brigades almost to a point of parody there has always been a conscious effort to bloat Ireland’s historic contributions to leftist struggles. More generally whether it be the ahistorical ‘debunking’ of the Cromwellian slave trade or attempts to manipulate republican figures around Easter Week as inherenly liberal/left wing, history is up for grabs when it comes to fashioning progressive agendas.

Dublin is normally rather cagey about honouring the contributions of men or women of violence. Ask yourself the last time you saw a memorial to the Invincibles or the Cairo Gang. Sinn Féin councillors to their credit have been fighting tooth and nail to mark the city’s republican history against revisionist currents.

Why is it that Gibson not only skips the cue but receives laudations well and truly beyond her historical importance?

For Mussolini’s part despite his revolutionary nihilism in his career he did nothing to offend the Emerald Isle. Deeply anti-Catholic in so far as they had an opinion Italian fascists of the time were in favour of the Irish struggle.

If anything Gibson’s life was a sad example of the failings of early 20th century mental health systems as well as the religious mania certain segments of WASP elites globally were being driven to amid the decline of upper class Anglicanism. Yeats, Gonne and Markievicz were all part of the same generation of Anglo-Irish eccentrics stumbling in between religiosity and ideology as the groundswell of their familial religion began to wane.

The Fair City honours Mussolini’s would-be assassin but only as a projection of the contemporary agendas. The reasoning behind that plaque strays far beyond the actions of one crazed schizophrenia a century ago.

Posted by Ciaran Brennan


  1. Eoin Ó Fátharta 21/10/2022 at 9:08 pm

    “Deeply anti-Catholic in so far as they had an opinion Italian fascists of the time were in favour of the Irish struggle.”

    That is completely and utterly untrue. Il Duce supported the Catholic Church in deed and in words.


  2. Declan Hayes 22/10/2022 at 1:12 am

    Given Ms Gibson was “a crazed schizophrenia”, she is perfect for today’s asylum. Let’s look at the positives. If Ms Gibson “shot herself in the breast in honour of murdered socialist MP Giacomo Matteotti”, why cannot those behind this plaque do the same but, perhaps, aim a little higher? Something for the geniuses of SF and PBP to consider.
    On a not unrelated topic. the plaques and statues in Merion Square, gifted to Dublin by the RC Archbishop of Dublin, are a disgrace. Mostly gay/group sex icons like Oscar Wilde in suggestive poses but even the bust of Michael Collins, or what remains of it, is an eyesore. 50 shades of what is to come.


  3. Ivaus@thetricolour 22/10/2022 at 11:17 pm

    What a beautiful thought, the idea that Our Violet was the protégé of
    Dublin’s hit man Bang Bang,we all lived to tell the tale and He was free to roam Our lives…truth is stranger than fiction.


  4. This is an example of the insane canonizing one of their own. Pity the poor people influenced by them. They definitely need prayers asking God to send them His Spirit of reason and truth before they totally doom themselves to hell.


  5. hasbulla sneed 24/10/2022 at 5:59 am

    Mussolini tried to send arms to the IRA in 1919 and 1920, judge that movement as from their actions, rather than what the media tell you he did


  6. Well written article. My understanding is that many of Il Duce’s confidants were devout Catholics. I’d be interested to read any evidence of his party being “deeply anti-Catholic”.

    As an aside, the downfall of the Anglo-Irish community started in WW1 with the loss of so many of their menfolk. Many previously pristine farms & estates began to fall into disrepair. Numerous examples of Anglo-Irish Irish women becoming spinsters because their beloved was killed at the Somme, Ypres, etc. Therefore, even if the manor houses survived the war of independence, there were no heirs to the estate.


  7. It’s a struggle to avoid the absolute Irony of this whole recognition situation, by and on behalf of the international Leftist Mafia.

    First off, the Leftists arrange to errect a plaque to commerate a Woman deeply suffering from Mental illness.

    Said plaque is placed to recognise WHAT EXACTLY??.

    Are they celebrating her failed attempt at assassinating the Italian Communist / Fascist leader??.

    If so!, in doing so, are they recognising the fact that Mussolini was a hard line Communist? and very, very far from the Right Wing Dictator, which the Left love to claim Mussolini as having been!.

    There is even further Irony in the fact that this plaque was erected in a nation, which has almost completely written off all responsibility for those suffering mental illness, instead opting for turning those bitterly suffering over to the care in the community.

    To conclude, the Liberal left celebrated with the assistance of the state funded broadcaster, the placing of a plaque to a woman who was deeply religious! , who suffered dreadful Mental health issues! , who attempted to assassinate a former Italian Communist Dictator, who abused and was for a time, imprisoned for abuse of a young woman and ended her years in the UK!.



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