Father John Coigley was standing with his hands bound on a scaffold in Kent about to be executed for treason in connection with the 1798 Irish rebellion when, with his wrists still tied, he pulled a knife from his pocket. The crowd gasped for two reasons. First, it was surprising that Coigley had smuggled a knife past his jailers. Second, the crowd had some reason to worry that Coigley would pull a Wolfe Tone and spite his captors by slashing his own throat, as other Catholic rebels had done.
With perfect sangfroid, Father Coigley produced from his other pocket . . . an orange . He peeled it, ate it, and was hanged.

Articles by Helen Andrews

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