This is a history of life after death—not the life of a disembodied soul, but of the body left behind in a prison yard, buried in quicklime. It is a history composed of family members, friends, politicians, and bureaucrats drawn into cooperation and conflict by the politics of rebellion, partition, and sexuality in Ireland and Great Britain. The deceased in dispute, Roger Casement, had been a controversial figure during the later years of his life, knighted by the British Crown in 1911 for his advocacy of humanitarian causes in Africa and South America and then hanged by the British government on 3 August 1916 for conspiring with Germany to mobilize and arm Irish separatists. Casement had requested that his body be buried at Murlough Bay, near his family's home in County Antrim in the province of Ulster. Instead, Casement's body was buried at Pentonville Prison in London, and for almost fifty years the British government rejected the appeals of Casement's family and supporters for the repatriation of his body to Ireland. In 1965, the body was finally exhumed and reinterred at Glasnevin Cemetery in Dublin, following a state funeral.
Why did the British government take over fifty years to disinter Casement's body from Pentonville, and why was his request to be buried at Murlough Bay not honored? In exploring the answers to these questions, I focus on negotiations between the British and Irish governments, and the terms of their final agreement over the present location of Casement's remains.