The Irish woman who shot Benito Mussolini

Ireland remembers Violet Gibson with plaque outside her childhood home in Dublin.

Italian Fascist dictator Benito Mussolini survived an assassination attempt in Rome on 7 April 1926, after a bullet grazed his nose, in an episode largely forgotten by history.

The person who pulled the trigger was Anglo-Irish woman Violet Gibson who mingled among the crowd with a Model 1892 revolver hidden under her shawl.

Gibson shot at Mussolini as he walked through Piazza del Campidoglio, seat of Rome's city hall, after he had addressed the International Congress of Surgeons.

Imprisonment and deportation

She fired one shot, with the bullet grazing Mussolini's nose, before the gun jammed and she was almost lynched by the crowd. She was only saved after the police intervened to arrest her.

As for Mussolini, he suffered only minor injuries which he dismissed as "a mere trifle," and once his nose was bandaged he continued his parade around the Capitoline Hill.

Gibson was imprisoned in Rome but later released without charge, on the orders of Mussolini, before being deported to Britain.

There she spent the rest of her life in a mental asylum, despite repeated pleas for her release. She died in 1956 and is buried in Northampton.

Dublin

Now, almost a century later, a plaque in Gibson's honour will be erected in Dublin, outside her childhood home at 12 Merrion Square.

The owners of 12 Merrion Square, which is in the possession of British real estate company Westhill, will first have to give consent for the plaque to be put on the building, reports Irish national broadcaster RTE. If permission is not granted then the plaque could also be placed on an adjoining property, RTE reports.

The motion, proposed by independent councillor Mannix Flynn, received support from Gibson's family and was passed formally by Dublin City Council which voted unanimously in favour of the memorial. 

Committed anti-fascist

"It is now time to bring Violet Gibson into the public eyes and give her a rightful place in the history of Irish women and in the history of the Irish nation and its people," stated Flynn, who hailed Gibson as a "committed anti-fascist."

Flynn noted, however, that "It suited both the British authorities and her family to have her seen as 'insane' rather than as political," adding that "for some odd reason" Gibson has been "totally ignored" by the "Irish establishment, and indeed the British establishment."

Who was Violet Gibson?

Born in Dublin in 1876, Gibson came from a privileged background. Her father was the politician and lawyer Lord Ashbourne, a friend of British prime minister Benjamin Disraeli.Gibson suffered ill health throughout her life. In 1922 she had a nervous breakdown and was declared insane. She was committed to a mental institution for two years.

At the time of her attack on Mussolini in Rome she was aged 50. She was never released from St Andrew's Hospital in Northampton where she died aged 79.

Unsent letters

It recently came to light that she had written several letters appealing for her release to powerful society figures, including Princess Elizabeth - the present Queen - and Winston Churchill. The letters never reached their intended recipients.

Legacy

Over the years Gibson has been the subject of books, plays and songs, while she will be portrayed by Olwen Fouéré in The Irish Woman Who Shot Mussolini, due to be broadcast on Irish television later this year.

General Info

Address 1 Merrion Square E, Dublin, Ireland

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The Irish woman who shot Benito Mussolini

1 Merrion Square E, Dublin, Ireland