Gibson, Violet – anti-Fascist

This plaque commemorates Violet Gibson, the Irish woman who shot Mussolini

The Honourable Violet Albina Gibson was born in Dalkey in 1876 into a wealthy Anglo-Irish family and raised in Merrion Square. She received her title at age nine when her father was made the Lord Ashbourne and Lord Chancellor of Ireland. Educated at home by governesses, she was a debutante at the court of Queen Victoria, and lived a very privileged life regularly appearing in the society columns, at balls, concerts in London and Dublin, social events at Buckingham Palace, family holidays in France and Italy, and skiing in San Moritz.

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At the age of twenty one, she received an independent income from her father and decided to pave her own path in life. She travelled extensively pursuing her interest in religion, politics and philosophy. Her conversion to Catholicism caused much upset in her family. She moved to London, rejecting and freeing herself from the conventions of her privileged background.

On April 7th 1926, three years into Benito Mussolini’s fascist rule of Italy, Violet Gibson drew a pistol and shot Mussolini at point blank range in front of an adoring crowd in the Campidiglio Rome. Mussolini’s head turned as she did so, and the bullet grazed his nose. She fired again, but the gun jammed.

Following her attempt on Mussolini’s life, Violet Gibson was placed in an asylum in England where she was kept with little or no contact with the outside world. She died in the asylum in 1956.

For more information about Violet Gibson, see her entry in the Dictionary of Irish Biography:

Siobhán Lynam’s documentary is on the RTÉ website at