Kilmainham Executions

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Location: Dublin, Ireland

Thursday, January 12, 2006

The Execution Tour of Kilmainham Gaol

Welcome to a work in progress. This blog when finished (which it may never fully be) will represent some (100% unofficial and unauthorised by the OPW) information on executions in Ireland's most famous historical prison. The information is laid out in the form of a virtual tour, and the floor plan below shows (where possible) the locations relevant to the stories.

STOP 1: GALLOWS HILL (1700S-1795)
STOP 2: FRONT ENTRANCE (1799-1865)

Stop 1: Gallows Hill 1783 -1796


Between 199 and 244 were hanged in Dublin between 1780 and 1795
- a rate of approx 12 to 15 a year.
In 1785 alone, there were 33 hangings.

The City's population was 180,000 then and is as many as 1,470,000 now: 8 times as many.

Based on the population ratios this would suggest that in modern Dublin city one could suggest that at per year, approximately 120 people would be executed every year.


City: Stephen’s Green, and Newgate Prison;
County: Gallows hill, Kilmainham commons (near grand canal bridge).

In the 18th century, most hangings in the city took place in St. Stephen’s Green, though there were a number of local gallows around the city and county which were also used.


Hangings in Stephen’s Green generally comprised of a procession in a cart to the hanging tree. The friends and families of the condemned would run alongside the carriage and the rope from the hanging tree would be attached to their neck while still in the carriage. Then the carriage would be driven away and the person would be left dangling from the tree.

This practice ceased to be used in January 1783 when hangings were relocated Newgate prison on Green Street, and Gallows hill here in Kilmainham.


Between 1780 and 1795 there were 390 homocides reported in Dublin city
and county – An average of 24 deaths per year:
189 murders
82 Suicides
34 manslaughter
34 infanticides
9 dueling deaths
42 unknown or other cause.

Of these 308 homicides for which the victim was not the culprit aswell,
only 17 were considered solved
and 27 people were hanged as a result (4 of them women, one of them a priest)

Other crimes:
3,600 robberies and burglaries.
53 rapes (7 resulting in death)
2 people were hanged for rape in this period, one a man and one a woman. The woman was hanged for the rape of a 10-year-old girl.
337 Assaults
158 riots
22 forcible enlistments

· prison,
· transportation
· whippings,
· pillories
· branding
· hanging
· strangulation and burning to death at the stake (for women)

o Also note acts of vigilantism: such as ‘ducking’


In May 1787 George Dalton was whpped from Kilmainham to Mount Brown for 'secreting himself in the shop of Laurence Hynes'.

Another interesting one was Ann Codd who was found guilty of stealing a child's clothes and was, with seeming appropriateness, stripped and whipped from the chapel in St. Sepulchre to Back Lane.


Despite the fact that the hanging drop platform or trap door in hangings are associated with the developments in the Victorian period, it was introduced to Dublin (and likely it was its first use in the whole country) here at Gallows hill, in January 1783,

(it having been first used at Tyburn in 1760 to hang a peer of the house of Lords named Lawrence Shirley the Fourth Earl of Ferrers for murder) and shortly after at Newgate Prison .

It was intended to break the necks of prisoners but it seems it failed as often as it worked.
As I will explain later, this would have been down to the noose and the length of drop used


Patrick Lynch
Just two weeks prior to the hanging platform being introduced to Ireland, here at Gallows hill, another alternative to the older St. Stephen’s Green system of hanging from a tree experimented with at Newgate.

Patrick Lynch was hanged on the 4th of January 1783 at Newgate with an experimental hoist system which was to be used for the first and last time on that occasion.

The noose was placed around his neck on the steps of the prison at ground level with the rope attached to a mechanical apparatus on the first level.
He was then hoisted high into the air and the body swung from 12.00pm until 4.00pm.

Thousands crowded in to see this spectacle and many adjoining streets remained impassable all day.

The hanging attracted wide criticism, and it seems that quite apart from the failure of the system to break the prisoner’s neck and the slow death that resulted, the height of the prisoner above the street and the fact that the body was up there for 4 hours made it particularly unpalatable.

(He was convicted under the ‘Chalking Act’ of 1778, when he shot a man he was robbing in the face. Under this legislation, the body of a person who killed or maimed with intent to do so would be given to the surgeons for dissection or anatomization.)

Then on Saturday the 18th of January on 1783 a triple hanging for burglary was performed on Gallows Hill demonstrating the drop platform and the prisoners were said to have died “much easier” than Lynch did.
As a result a similar system with an iron platform was installed in Newgate in March.

5 months after the introduction of this platform, the youngest prisoner believed to be hanged in this period in Dublin was executed at the age of 14. He was a very slight boy convicted of robbery named John Short.


108 executed: between January 1783 and April 1795

· 93 Property Offences
(theft, burglary, robbery, 4 women)
· 9 Murders
(under the Murder Act of 1752, the sentence was carried out within 48 hours of the verdict and the body would be dissected)
· 1 Assault
· 1 Arson
(Mary Purfield, 1783, burned instead of hanged)
· 4 unkown.
· 108 total

One woman in 1783 who was found guilty of arson was burned at the stake at Gallows hill. Another woman was burned at a stake for murder in St. Stephen’s Green the following year.


Nicholas Fagan was hanged and quartered for murder on January 14th 1786
(this was common, as was beheading, and public dissection for murderers was obligatory by act of parliament, 1752)


Robert Jameson was hanged and gibbeted on March 14th 1786.
Gibbeting was a process which dated back to the 14th century whereby the body of the hanged the prisoner would be
stripped, dipped into molten pitch or tar and when it had cooled, placed into an iron cage that surrounded the head, torso and upper legs.
The cage was riveted together and then suspended. In this case it was on a tall wooden beam.
The intention was to leave the body as a grim reminder of the punishment for such a crime. It could stay on the gibbet for a year or so until it rotted away or was eaten by birds etc

Someone chopped down Jameson's gibbet a week later and a gaoler of the old Kilmainham Jail, re-erected it. Then 2 weeks later it was again chopped down,
the beam was thrown in the Liffey, the irons removed from the body and it was buried in a shallow grave somewhere here on Gallows hill.

1834. Hanging in chains or gibbet irons after death was finally abolished after James Cook was hanged and gibbeted for murder.


The oldest individual to be hanged at Gallows HIll was 80 year-old Peter Rigney, executed 25th of January 1785 for stealing the fat of some sheep in Ballynadrun.
The sheep were alive at the time.


March 20th 1784, Hugh Feeney and John Murphy, who both protested their innocence, were hanged at Gallows Hill for burglary just minutes before news that they had been granted a reprieve by the Lord Lieutenant as evidence suggesting their innocence had come to light.
The pair were immediately cut down but all efforts to revive them failed.

Four months later on July 24th, 1784, 3 men were hanged for a robbery having
“in the most solemn manner declared their innocence” prior to their executions.
Just over a year later a gang who were to be hanged for another burglary admitted that they were responsible for that crime.

Under an almost identical set of circumstances, it transpired that 3 men hanged in January of 1785 were also innocent.

Interestingly, those who admitted to being the real culprits were part of an exceptional quintuple hanging and what happened when the executioner pulled the lever was by Walker's Hibernian Magazine in June 1785, said to be…

"...distressing to every person capable of feeling for the misfortune of their fellow creatures. In about a minute after the 5 unhappy criminals were turned off, the temporary gallows fell down, and on its re-erection, it was found necessary to suffer three of the unhappy wretches to remain half strangled on the ground until the other two underwent the sentence of law, when they in turn were tied up and executed."


There are several recorded instances of revival in this Country during the seventeenth and eighteenth centuries. One of the most famous is that of John Smith, hanged at Tyburn on Christmas Eve 1705. Having been turned off the back of the cart, he dangled for fifteen minutes until the crowd began to shout "reprieve" whereupon he was cut down and taken to a nearby house where he soon recovered.
He was asked what it had felt like to be hanged and this is what he told his rescuers:
"When I was turned off I was, for some time, sensible of very great pain occasioned by the weight of my body and felt my spirits in strange commotion, violently pressing upwards. Having forced their way to my head I saw a great blaze or glaring light that seemed to go out of my eyes in a flash and then I lost all sense of pain. After I was cut down, I began to come to myself and the blood and spirits forcing themselves into their former channels put me by a prickling or shooting into such intolerable pain that I could have wished those hanged who had cut me down."

16 year old William Duell was hanged, along with four others, at Tyburn on the 24th of November 1740. He had been convicted of raping and murdering Sarah Griffin and was therefore to be anatomised after execution. He was taken to Surgeon’s Hall, where it was noticed that he was showing signs of life. He was revived and returned to Newgate later that day. The authorities decided to reprieve him and his sentence was commuted to transportation.

An Iranian man identified only as Niazali, was hanged in February 1996 for 20 minutes, but survived after the victim's relatives pardoned him.
He told the Iranian daily newspaper "Kayhan" what it had felt like.
"That first second lasted like a thousand years. I felt my arms and legs jerking out of control. Up on the gallows in the dark, I was trying to fill my lungs with air, but they were crumpled up like plastic bags,"


Freemans Journal of October 1787 reports:
"Wilde who was hanged yesterday at Kilmainham for stopping and molesting Mr. Gunning with intent to rob him, made at the place of execution ample confession of the many enormities he had committed and declared that if the blunderbuss had gone off he would certainly have shot the person he attacked.
"When cut down a number of fellows laid hold of the body and carried it without a coffin or any other covering along the Circular Road where they several times attempted to restore him to life by rubbing his limbs and trying every other method of sagacity could suggest.
"If the police persist in their exertions, there is not a doubt but the roads leading to this city will soon be cleared of the number of villains who for some time infested them and committed their depradations on the public."

Letter of October 1781 to the Hibernian Journal
Will frequent executions contribute to their purpose? Experience shows the contrary. Their Frequency renders them familiar; and the mob seems no more affected with this solemn scene, than a puppet show.
A terror is lessened. Villainy increase, and necessity for execution is augmented by their multiplicity…
I am serious in proposing castration for the men whenever they commit a crime…
Intemperate lust is the most frequent cause of such crimes, and what more adequate a punishment? ‘Tis an operation not without a suitable degree of pain, sometimes danger, and perhaps the New Gaol would tremble more at the approach of such an execution… The body relishes pleasure and enjoyment, and is the only object of their concern. The soul – they know nothing of it…
Should a Capital C be marked on each cheek, their contemptible infamous Punishment would be known to every one they meet.
“A Magistrate”

Letter to Hibernian Journal in June 1787:
[I]f in this age means could be devised by trying experiments upon our fellow creatures, who are become so hostile to society, as to be made by the laws of their country shocking examples of public justice; by amputating the limb of one man, and replacing it with the limb amputated from another; as the unhappy creatures are dead in law, good may result from evil, by the legislative tolerating to make experiments upon them, with a promise of a free pardon… I am sure men and women of the same description in Ireland, would be better pleased to be given while alive for surgical improvements, the law concurring and granting a pardon should the experiment succeed.. I will suppose government favouring the experiment, two operators with their assistants and apparatus apply the tourniquets upon the left or right thighs of two men or women, or a man and a woman if their limbs are proportioned, they are with two long bladed catlings to plunge the points seven inches below the parts, the limbs are to be taken off in oblique directions, upwards, forwards, downwards, until the points penetrate the bones, they are to revolve the points round the skin, bringing the heels, the parts, the point, first entered making neat circular flaps converging from the edges round the bones, the points the catlings revolved,; they are with small pliers to draw the mouths of the crural arteries together, giving the pliers to their assistants, while they unite them by the glovers suture, uniting the rest of the great blood vessels in a similar manner… the patients [convicts] will be thrown into violent convulsions,; but these should not prevent them [surgeons] from persisting in the experiment… The bones and muscles not uniting, the nerves and veins not inosculating, the flaps growing flabby and mortifying, and discharging a foetid ichor absorbing in the mass, contaminating the blood and juices, the patients growing hectic and convulsed, under these melancholy circumstances, it will be a pleasing reflection to them, that their lives are prolonged for offering up prayers to the Almighty Redeemer, that their mal-practice are expiated for transgressing the law; and that by fervent in spirit, they may expect eternal salvation. Although many lives may be lost in the attainment, they will be more than sufficiently compensated by the high advantage resulting to our fleets and armies.
Signed, “Heister.”

The last hanging at Gallows Hill prior to the construction of the New Kilmainham Gaol was a double hanging of two brothers named Connolly who were convicted of stealing a cow.

Stop 2: Kilmainham Gaol Entrance 1796 - 1868

Public executions: 1796 - 1868

Kilmainham Gaol Entrance in the 1860s:

The contemporary Newgate Prison showing the drop platform:

After the construction of the New Kilmainham Gaol on Gallows Hill, executions were no longer carried out on a wooden gallows, and were instead conducted from the balcony over the main entrance to the jail.

Altogether there were a debatable figure 138 of Kilmainham's prisoners hanged between 1796 and 1823 (an approximate average rate of 5.5 per year, but in 1816, a peak figure of 11 people were hanged).

There are no recorded hangings between 1823 and 1865

It is unclear to me at this time how many of these were hanged from the balcony and how many were hanged at other locations,

From a list in the Gaol Library which I believe was compiled by Phyl Mason, and which I presume was derived from the gaol register, which I haven’t seen, I have information on 30 people who were hanged from this balcony:

John Molloy: 1799: Burglary
(2) Simon Molloy

William Bryan: 1801: "chalked a solider and several different felonies"

Rose Kelly: 1802: Infanticide

Henry Howley: 1803: Treason

Thomas Wire (19): 1807: murder (bodies dissected at surgeon's hall)
(2) Christopher Walshe

John Howlett (31): 1811: Burglary
(2)John Toole (40)
(3)John Motley (26)

William Bishop: 1812: Theft of a writing desk containing money

Edward hill: 1812: Theft of a writing desk containing money

John Burke: 1815: Burglary and Robbery

Patrick Drury: 1815: Murder

Thomas Murphy: 1816: Rape & Robbery
(2)Benjamin Farrell

Timothy Dwyer: 1816: Robbery and Burglary
(2) John Mooney

Mathew Kinihan: 1817: robbery of the passengers of a mail coach

Peter Aungier: 1817: robbery of a mail coach

Patrick Devane: 1817: Arson (in which 8 died)

Nicholas Rafferty: 1819: Highay robbery

Laurence Donnelly:1820: Burglary and Robbery
(2) James Crowley
(3) George Kirby
(4) Thomas McGuire

Bridget Butterly: 1821: Murder and Robbery
(2) Bridget Ennis

Patrick Hynes: 1823: burglary

Statistically, these hangings break down as follows:

30 executions on 20 days
4 double hangings, 1 triple, 1 quadruple

18 Burglary or Robbery
7 murder (including 1 infanticide) (4 men and 3 women)
1 Assault
1 Arson (resulting in the deaths of 8)
1 Treason
2 rape.

There were no recorded hangings between Patrick Hynes in 1823 and Patrick Kilkenny in 1865.


Patrick Kilkenny had been in a relationship with a woman named Mary Farquahar for about five years.
His intention was to marry her though it seems there was no formal engagement.

Prior to this relationship, Mary Farquahar had been in a relationship with a man named John Connor who had left for America to make his fortune.

Mary eventually received a letter from this x-boyfriend telling her that he was now financially stable and would like her to come and join him in America and be his wife. Mary wanted to accept this proposal and so went to tell her current boyfriend Patrick Kilkenny of her intentions.

On hearing the news Patrick Kilkenny, threatened Mary that if he she went to America, that he would kill himself and that both of them would be damned.

Mary Farquahar said that she didn’t care and at this Patrick became so enraged that he attacked her, and killed her strangling her as he held her head beneath a shallow muddy pool of water.
Patrick was immediately wracked with guilt and regret at what he had done and he stayed praying over the Mary Falquahar's corpse all night, all the while strongly contemplating taking his own life.

He also covered her body in a shallow mound of sods and mud.

His final decision at dawn was that committing what believed would be the mortal sin of suicide would only worsen the state of his soul, so he hitched from Palmerstown to Dublin and went to a police station in Beresford Place where a friend of his who he had known for 16 years, a man named Richard Maguire, was a police constable.

Finding it difficult to say immediately the purpose of his visit, he went with Constable Maguire to a local pub (it was now between 7am and 8am in the morning) where he told him the whole story and at the end of which they went to Sackville Street Police station to turn himself in to an inspector.

The Trial:

At the trial before a judge named Baron Deasy in which Patrick Kilkenny freely shared the truth of Mary Falquahar's death, the jury's guilty verdict had attached to it a recommendation for mercy – on the ground that it was a sudden unpremeditated act of violence done under the influence of jealousy.

The judge sentenced Kilkenny to hang, and despite the petitions made on his behalf which also brought to the attention of the Lord Lieutenant that a reprieve had been given by the monarch to a man who commited a similar crime in England, the Lord Lieutenant said the law should take its course... and from this balcony on July 20th 1865, Patrick Kilkenny was hanged, his body taken in after hanging for one hour, and he buried in the exercise yards of the gaol.

He weighted 160lb and dropped 14 feet 6 inches.

For the purposes of a discussion of the history of capital punishment, there were at least two very interesting spectators at this exectution:
1) Samuel Haughton, one of the reputed inventors of the long drop system of hanging (whom I will return to at stop 4).
2)John Logue who was to become the last person to be hanged publicly in Ireland before the introduction of the Capital Punishment within Prisons Act 1838


John Logue was given a 4 year prison sentence in Mountjoy Jail in 1861 for stealing a sheep.
He spent his time in gaol planning revenge against a man named George Graham; the man who gave evidence against him at his trial.

According to the Irish times, the warders, while not thinking him insane, did say he 'lacked something'.
Some thought his mind had been affected by his servitude.
In 1863 a petition for his release was turned down with the judge saying he was of 'decidedly bad character.'
He was released in June of 1865 and watched the hanging of Patrick Kilkenny on the 22nd of July.

March 1866:
In the middle of the night, George Graham heard loud knocking was at the door. A short time later someone shouted that the pigs were on the road.
George and his son left the house to investigate and met a man in the piggery who was pointing a gun at them.
George ran off towards the house and after hearing a shot, noticed his son was missing and when he returned, found the body of his son (10 years of age)

In the following days, Logue boasted of shooting the boy in revenge for his father giving evidence against him. He was arrested and a search of his lodging resulted in the discovery of a number of items stolen from homes before the murder.

These items included gunpowder, shot and a powder flask. The gun was never recovered.

At his trial, although the evidence was only circumstantial, he was found guilty.
He showed no emotion as the death sentence was passed.

The date was set for he 19th of April 1866.

He told his visitors how he had witnessed a hanging at Kilmainham gaol. He said that the unfortunate prisoner had survived for up to an hour at the end of the rope (this was inaccurate Kilkenny died very quickly here but would have been left on the rope for an hour to ensure the execution was complete)

As he had said he was converted while in prison, the Dean of Down and other clergymen tried to get him to confess and he always protested his innocence
they sent a petition to the Lord Lieutenant in which those who put their names to it:

believe under the Christian Dispensation it is forbidden to take away the life of a human being, that life having been the creation of the Deity who alone has given and who alone ought to take away.
That your Petitioners believe the Punishment by Death so far from securing the sacredness of life, by familiarisation, the Public with its deliberate desctruction , prepare for and prompts social insecurity.
That all experience goes to prove the more sanguinary the Criminal code of a People may be, the greater and more frequent the crimes of society, and whoever and whenever punishment has become milder the more serious offences have been found to diminish.

Logue's then wrote to the Lord Lieutenant himself after a reprieve was denied.
He wrote it on the back of the religious tract 'Come to Jesus’, to be reconciled with God' and in it expressed his wish that His Excellencey would be 'hurried to the judgement seat of God by some untimely death' and that God would send both he and the Jury 'into everlasting torment... my last prayer on this earth will be that you shall be taken and hired up by the big toes in hell'.
He signed off with: 'May the devil take you before the 19th'

While being pinioned by the executioner, the Rev Mills asked if he wished to confess. He replied that he had no connection with the murder and did not address the crowd.

He died instantly without a struggle with a drop of 12 feet.
After hanging for three quarters of an hour his body was removed and buried inside the precincts of the gaol

Stop 3: Condemned Cell of Robert Emmet 1803


Having spent the night in this cell after his trial in Greenstreet Court house the previous day, Robert Emmet was taken, on the 20th of Semptember 1803, to be publicly hanged and beheaded on what was at that time one of Dublin's busiest thoroughfares, Thomas Street.

The trial had lasted 11 hours and Robert Emmet had stood for it's entire duration.

The climax of the trial, a climax which has echoed through Irish republican history since it's occurrence, was a speech that Robert Emmet gave after he had been found guilty, sentenced to death and was asked (as a nominal formality) by the trial judge, John Toler - a man better known as 'Hanging Lord Norbury' because of his apparent preference for death sentences – "Is there any reason why the sentence of death should not be carried out upon you".

Contained in this speech are some very interesting passages in which Robert Emmet clearly suggests that though he has been arrested and sentenced to death, his rebellion having been a military failure, that he still had in his possession, one more powerful weapon with which he might defeat the British Administration in Ireland.

This weapon was the fact that by enduring the gruesome execution that the court had pronounced, far from it being the supreme punishment and deterrent that it was intended to be, it would in fact it make Robert Emmet's execution a fulcrum of martyrdom on which a new and greater revolution would hinge.


“The man dies, but his memory lives. That mine may not perish, that it may live in the respect of my countrymen, I seize upon this opportunity to vindicate myself from some of the charges alleged against me...

when my shade shall have joined those bands of martyred heroes who have shed their blood on the scaffold and in the field in defence of their country and virtue, this is my hope: that my memory and name may serve to animate those who survive me, while I look down with complacency on the destruction of that perfidious government which upholds its domination by blasphemy of the Most High; which displays its power over man as over the beasts of the forest; which sets man upon his brother, and lifts his hand in the Name of God, against the throat of his fellow... a government which is steeled to barbarity by the cries of the orphans and the tears of the widows that it has made....

...My lord, you are impatient for the sacrifice. The blood which you seek is not congealed by the artificial terrors which surround your victim; it circulates warmly and unruffled through its channels which God created for noble purposes, but which you are now bent to destroy, for purposes so grievous that they cry out to heaven...

I am going to my cold and silent grave. My lamp of life is nearly extinguished. I have parted with everything that was dear to me in this life for my country's cause... The grave opens to receive me and i sink into it bosom.

I have but one request to ask at my departure from this world. It is - the charity of its silence. Let no man write my epitaph; for just as no man who knows my motives dares now vindicate them, let not ignorance or prejudice asperse them.

Let them and me rest in obscurity and peace; and my tomb remain uninscribed and my memory in oblivion until other times and other men can do justice to my character. When my country takes its place among the nations of the earth, then, and not till then, let my epitaph be written. I have done.”


The gallows on Thomas street was a temporary one which was built with planks and empty barrels and a cross beam on two poles about 12 feet tall. It was almost in the centre of the street.

Final words on the gallows:
“My friends, I die in peace and with sentiments of universal love and kindness towards all men”

The executioner began the hanging by dislodging a plank which was on a narrow ledge and Emmet convulsed on the end of the rope for over a half an hour when finally his body ceased to move.

Beheading on a butchers block
If the reports of the blood squirting into the crowd when the procedure began are accurate, this would suggest that Robert Emmet was alive and merely unconscious at the time of his beheading.

Letter to William Wickam
Wickham, the chief justice, was given a letter from Robert Emmet after the execution “‘in a strong firm hand without blot, correction or erasure’.
Wickham received it hours after Emmet’s death and it caused him to doubt the legitimacy of British rule in Ireland.
He resigned in 1804 because he could no longer implement laws that were ‘unjust, oppressive and unchristian’

Of Emmet, he said: ‘Had I been an Irishman, I should most unquestionably have joined him’.

‘in what honours or other earthly advantage could I find compensation for what I must suffer were I again compelled by my official duty to prosecute to death men capable of acting as Emmet has done in his last moments, for making an effort to liberate their country from grievances the existence of many of which none can deny, which I myself have acknowledged to be unjust, oppressive and unchristian’.

There were 22 people executed by the British as a result of Robert Emmet's failed rebellion. Half of these executees were hanged on the same spot as Robert Emmet; one, Henry Howley, was hanged from the balcony gallows of Kilmainham Gaol, and one, Feelix Rourke was hanged outside his own home in Rathcoole.

Stop 4: Temporary Gallows1883 - 1893

Capital Punishment within Prisons Act 1868

Executions were brought out of public view in 1868 under the Capital Punishment within Prisons Act, and in Kilmainham Gaol to a temporary gallows which was re-assembled as required in one of the exercise yards, but which seemed to have a permenant brick chamber built for this purpose. Here was the first time in the jail's history when the new 'long-drop system' was used.


Samuel Haughton:
‘Divide the weight of the patient in pounds into 2240, and the quotient will give the length of the long drop in feet’. For example, a criminal weighing 160 lbs should be allowed a 14 feet drop.’ (Animal Mechanics, 1867)

Haughton also delivered a lecture in December 1876 entitled ‘suspension’ in which he speaks of the hangings he observed (including Kilkenny’s). I was unable to get this address, but it seems he was advocating drops of between 6 and 8 feet at this time (like Marwood).

Dr. Charles Croker King (of Queen's College Galway):
Described the physiological effects of the execution of Patrick Lydon in 1858 and describes how he was given a drop of 11 feet for his 133 pounds. This would give him 16 feet under Haughton's system and about 6 feet 3 inches under Berry's system.

Marwood's method of calculation is unknown though it is assumed Berry based his table on it, and Marwood carried out his first execution on April 1st, 1872 on the convicted murderer, William Fredrick Horry in Lincoln Prison. This execution went without a hitch.

Marwood must be regarded as the true inventor of the long drop as it was officially practiced from the late 18th century because of the subaural noose intended to impact the jugular being such a critical component of the process. The length of rope per se is not the critical issue.


The first private execution, after the passing of the 1868 Act, in Dublin was of Andrew Carr in July 1870 in Richmond prison.
He was an army pensioner who voluntarily confessed to cutting the throat of his paramour during a drunken quarrel.
The hangman's identity is unkown and it was reported he hid his face with a black mask - this may suggest he was a local man.
He decided on a drop of 14 feet for the prisoner despite advice from the surgeon that 8 feet would suffice.
At the drop, Andrew Carr's head was ripped from his body.


Built by prisoners from Mountjoy Jail.

Gallows was built to execute the Invincibles in 1883, and the executioner was William Marwood, who is the man of whom it is often claimed, invented the long-drop system of hanging and first demonstrated it in 1872.

'The Invincibles:'
• Joseph Brady , May 14th, 1883
• Daniel Curley, May 18th,1883 (the alleged mastermind of the murders)
• Michael Fagan , May 28th,1883
• Thomas Caffery, June 2nd, 1883 (Claimed that Brady and Kelly were responsible and he entered the park under threat of death).
• Timothy Kelly, June 9th, 1883.


Marwood was born into a poor family at Horncastle in Lincolnshire in 1820.
He was a cobbler before becoming an executioner at 52 years of age.

Marwood famously said "Calcraft 'hanged' people, I 'execute' them," and so never called himself a “hangman,” preferring the term, “Executioner.”

A child’s rhyme associated with Marwood was, "If Pa killed Ma, who'd kill Pa? Marwood!"

Marwood's last execution before his premature death was just after the his executions at this site and was in Durham on August 6th, 1883: the execution of a James Burton.
Burton was a 33 year-old man found guilty of the uxoricide of his 18 year old wife and Marwood gave him a drop of 7 feet 10 inches.
At the execution Marwood hastened the process as he thought that Burton was in danger of collapsing.

When the trap opened the slack rope got caught on his arm and Marwood had to reach down through the trap and physically pull the prisoner back up onto the platform. He quickly released the tangle rope and repositioned the cap which had worked free. amid the commotion Burton was heard to say "Oh, Lord help me". And marwood threw him back down into the hanging pit with such force that the rope swung violently across the yawning hole, obligiing Marwood to grab it and steady it with his hand.

Marwood died on 4th September 1883 after having hanged 168 men and 8 women in his career.


Binns assumed the position of no.1 executioner in England as John Berry (who was to subsequently become a very prominent executioner, particularly because of his writings on the subject) was passed over as a member of his family wrote to the home office requesting that this be done as the appointment was likely to bring shame and odium upon the family.

A post which Marwood had held for almost 9 years, Binns held it for just 3 months.

First Execution:
Henry Dutton on December 3rd 1883 in Liverpool.

Binns arrived in Liverpool 3 days early and for tips and alcohol held impromptu lectures on his craft as a hangman in a cheap hotel.

He arrived at the gaol drunk and just one hour before he was required. A man who he had with him who Binns claimed was his 'assisstant' was not admitted to the gaol due to his intoxication.

Binns botched the hanging and it took the prisoner a number of minutes to die, the drop having failed to break his neck.

One week later, Binns was approached in his small shop by a man who was selling songs lamenting the demise of Patrick O'Donnell, the Irishman who had been convicted of the murder of James Carey, the informer who sent 5 of the invincibles to their deaths by his testimony.

Carey was aboard the ship 'Melrose Castle' on which Carey was travelling incognito, with his family to South Africa to start a new life.

Binns was due to execute O'Donnell one week later and naturally refused to purchased the songbook. Later on that day the man returned intoxicated having learned of who Binns was, said he was O'Donnell's son and threatened to shoot the hangman Binns. The man was ordered to pay a fine as a result of the incident, and when he refused, was imprisoned.

Binns went on to execute Patrick O'Donnell in London, and was himself arrested along with his assistant Alfred Archer as the men had not paid their fare on the train from London.

Last Execution by Binns
His last job was the hanging of 18 year old Michael McLean at Liverpool on the 10th of March 1884. He was seen to be in a drunken state and the execution was botched – it took 13 minutes for McLean‘s heart to stop

Interim execution by Binns at Kilmainham:

Peter Wade (25), January 15th, 1884. For the murder of Patrick Quinn
Was alleged to have beaten an old gardener by the name of Patrick Quinn to death after the gardener had accused Wade of trying to prevent Quinn getting a job for a friend. Quinn had been found dead near his home with horrific head wounds and Wade was arrested when bloodstains were found on his clothing.

Binns’ Epiloge
Divorced by wife after he began hanging cats and dogs. He continued this practice afterward and had a very public disagreement in the courts about this with his mother-in-law whom he counter accused of stealing his watch.

Born in Heckmondwike, Yorkshire 1852 (died 1913)
Period in office - 1884 - 1891.

Was originally a police constable
Berry carried out 131 hangings in his eight years in office, including those of 5 women. He was the first British executioner to write his memoirs "My experiences as an executioner."

Man they couldn’t hang
John Lee ("The man they could not hang") on the 23rd February 1885 at Exeter prison. 19 year old John Lee was convicted of the murder of his elderly, wealthy employer Ellen Keyse for whom he worked as footman.
All the normal preparations were made on the gallows, set up in the coach house at Exeter prison, but when Berry pulled the lever nothing happened. Berry stamped on the trap but to no avail and Lee was then taken back to his cell whilst the trap release mechanism was tested. It worked perfectly.
The process was now repeated but with the same result and yet again the trap worked perfectly after Lee was removed. After the third unsuccessful attempt the governor stayed the hanging whilst he obtained directions from the Home Office. Lee was later reprieved.

Robert Goodale at Norwich Castle on the 30th of November 1885. Goodale who weighed 15 stone (95 Kg.) but was in poor physical condition, was decapitated by the force of the drop. (The only recorded instance of this in Britain)
Hanged by John Berry:

At Kilmainham:
Peter Stafford (40), April 8th, 1889
For the murder of Peter Crawley who he was convicted of shooting dead in an altercation in a public house in which they were drinking on the 28th of January 1889. When found guilty, he declared to the court that he was as innocent as a priest and resisted violently when John Berry tried to pinion him for his execution.

John Purcell (46), March 13th, 1891
For the murder of a woman named Bridget Smith, a 60 year-old woman found batterred to death in her home in Naul, Co. Dublin on 21st November 1890.

Stop 6: The Hanging House: 1893 - 1910


4 Hangings:
• Patrick Reilly, 1893
• Edward Leigh, 1893
• James Reilly, 1893
• Joseph Heffernan, 1910


Patrick Reilly (55) 1893
(details of murder and exact date of execution unknown as they do not appear in the book by Steve Fielding, (Hangman’s Record) and it is unlikely to have been a double hanging with Edward Leigh, as though Leigh is mentioned in passing by the report on James Reilly’s execution in The Freeman’s Journal, Patrick Reilly is not.

Edward Leigh (23), July 10th, 1893
For murder of an elderly woman named Bridget Knight, who was found stabbed to death in her home on the outskirts of Dublin. The jury recommended mercy for Leigh on account of his youth.

James Reilly (35), September 2nd, 1893
Facts of the case:
In Stepaside, about 4 miles away from Dublin, after meeting a man named Cox in a local bar. He learned that Cox was an insurance agent and believed he would have a lot of money on him from collecting insurance that day.

Reilly made no confession to the murder, but the evidence heard at the trial suggested that he had set upon Cox with an Iron bar

The track across the grass where Cox was murdered suggested to investigators that he was initially knocked unconscious but came to as Reilly was dragging him across a field perhaps believing him dead and looking for somewhere to put the body.

Cox had most likely put up a significant fight judging by his broken fingers and the injuries on his arms. By the conclusion of the act, Cox had his jaw smashed and his skull broken open. His attacker had literally battered his brains out.

The Execution of James Reilly
Spent most of the night and morning before the execution in a state of trembling and collapse and was unable to dress himself without assistance when he was called to attend mass at 6 in the morning: his execution being set for 8 (which at this time was traditional).
Mass at 6.
The bell tolls its death knell at 3 minutes to 8 and the procession to the gallows begins:

Deputy Governor
Prison Surgeon
A number of warders: (4 to 6)

James Reilly had to be helped walk by the priests. There was at this time an invention which amounted to an upright trolley which could be used if the prisoner could not support their own weight at the time of execution. It was not used in this case.
He was hanged by Thomas Henry Scott.

Little known about Scott as a Hangman
Scott was from Huddersfield in Yorkshire, and his first job was in Londonderry where a large crowd pelted him with rotting vegetables as he made his way to the prison.
Period of office 1892 - 1901.


Joseph Heffernan, January 4th, 1910
For the murder of Mary Walker in Mullingar.

Mary Walker had worked in the local Post office in Mullingar for 8 years, had befriended Heffernan and managed to secure him a job in the post office where she worked. It seems Joseph Heffernan was fired from this job for reasons unknown in matter of months.

Around this time Heffernan was trying to develop his relationship with Mary Heffernan into something more intimate than just casual friends and work colleagues.

On July 7th 1909, Joseph left his lodgings early as he said he was going to a nearby farm to seek work. He did not return until very late that night, in an advanced state of intoxication, and when his landlady asked him where he had been all day, he told her that he had witnessed the murder of a girl down at the Great Bridge.

The landlady assumed (and presumably hoped) that this entire story was a fabrication inspired by his drunkenness, but became suspicious when the next day she asked Joseph to fix a broom handle and he produced a blood-stained pen-knife to do the job.

As news of the discovery of Mary Walker's body circulated, having been found at 11pm the night of her death with her throat slit from ear to ear, the landlady reported him to police who found that Heffernan matched the description given by a witness of the man who was seen arguing with Mary Walker, just prior to her death.
At his trial, Heffernan's defence tried to plead insanity.


Real name unknown
To be collected for his interview at Kingsbridge Train Station:
Described what he would be wearing and said “I shall go towards the engine, and remove my hat and rub my forehead for a moment”

Went to Strangeways prison for an execution in February 1945.
On first entering the empty hanging house “Johnson” turned pale.
Pierrepoin (albert) described him as “old and short and timid” in his book.

He was asked to do a hanging in 1946 about a year and nine months later, he expressed grave reservations and said he would have to observe more executions before he could do one himself without assistance. This prisoner got a reprieve.

Johnson then came to Mountjoy in March 1947 for the execution of Joseph McManus. Pierrepoint was supposed only to be supervising Johnson, but as Johnson had appeared to have forgotten all of his training, Pierrepoint took over the hanging completely.

Stop 7: Chapel: mid 19th Century onward


The position of the chapel was similar at Newgate on Greenstreet, which was built in 1780. There, prisoners also were in the chapel before being led through French doors onto a balcony with a drop platform (see diagram in the chapter on front entrance executions in Kilmainham).

The proximity between the chapel and site of execution may be indicative of the desire of authorities to have prisoners to go to their executions with complicity. Receiving their last rites in the chapel prior to the moment of death, might edify the prisoner.

The doorway through which the prisoners were led is still visible, though the passageway itself has been blocked up.

It was customary to have a mass for the condemned prisoner on the morning of the execution.

Stop 8: "Murderer's Gallery:" 1921


At exactly 9 a.m. on the morning of November 21st 1920, 12 british secret service agents, mostly comprising of what was known as the ‘Cairo Gang’ were killed by the
IRA’s Dublin Brigade and Michael Collins’ intelligence unit known as ‘The Squad’.

Also killed were 2 auxiliary policemen who happened upon one of these assassinations.
These tactical killings crippled the British Secret Service network.

That afternoon, Auxiliaries from Beggar’s Bush Barracks, the same barracks that the two dead auxiliaries had come from, fired into the crowd of a Gaelic football match in Dublin’s Croke Park, shooting 7 people dead. A further 7 were crushed to death in the panic that ensued.

This day became known as ‘Bloody Sunday’.
The corridor that we are standing on is where the suspects for the killings of the British agents and auxiliaries were held, and it was known as ‘Murderers’ Gallery’.

Also in this area were held the 5 volunteers who were arrested after an unsuccessful ambush of the British Military in Drumcondra.

There were no casualties as a result of this failed ambush and They were charged with "high treason by conspiring with others to levy war against the King" which was a crime punishible by death on the statute books since the 14th century.


In the days coming up to Valentine's Day, 1921, plans were underway to facilitate an internal jail-break to allow a number of the prisoners of the so-called "murderer's gallery" to escape.

The ringleader of this escape was a man imprisoned under the assumed name "Bernard Stewart". He was in fact a high-ranking member and wanted member of the IRA whose real name was Ernie O'Malley. The man who occuppied this cell.

There are a number of accounts of what was ultimately a successful escape, over 80 years later, it will be impossible to establish a complete story with any satisfaction, but what we can say with some certainty is that ‘Plan A’ involving a rope ladder failed, and ‘Plan B’ involved breaking through the padlock on an external gate with bolt-cutters that were smuggled in with the assistance of at least two soldiers who were supposed to be guarding them. They were lieutenants Holland and Roper and were from a Welsh regiment in the British Army.

In the first attempt, O'Malley, Moran and Teeling successfully made it to the external gate, but the bolt-cutters failed to break the lock.

According to Ernie O'Malley's account in his book "On another man's Wound," it was Frank Teeling, a man who was already found guilty of participation in the Bloody Sunday Assissinations and was facing the death sentence, who successfully broke the lock at a second attempt. He then came back to others.

When O'Malley and Teeling came to round up the others for the escape, they found Patrick Moran in this cell, due to go on trial for the murder of Lieutenant Aimes. They told him the escape was on, and Patrick Moran, in a relaxed and self-assured tone, told them that he would not be going.

He explained that an escape would be tantamount to an admission of guilt and that out of gratitude to the witnesses who agreed to testify on his behalf, a very brave gesture given the political climate of the time, he would stand trial. Moran was convinced that the evidence presented in court would vindicate him.

As Teeling remained counselling Moran to escape with the other men, O'Malley went to release 19-year-old Frank Flood and the other members of the First Battalion who were imprisoned for the failed Drumcondra Ambush.

O'Malley quickly learned that they had been sent to the punishment cells for insulting one of the soldiers and he took Simon Donnelly instead, the vice-commandant of the 3rd Battalion, he had been in Murderer's Gallery just a few days, and the 3 of them escaped to freedom.

Moran quickly organised a sing-song to distract the guards, so that they would not notice for some time that the men had escaped.

At his trial the next day, despite the fact that the prosecutions case was deeply flawed and rejecting the evidence from 14 witnesses, including a police officer, which alibis for Moran’s movements the morning the murder took place, he was found guilty by a jury of 6 army officers and hanged in Mountjoy jail a month later.

That day 6 hangings took place:
• Patrick Moran
• Thomas Whelan
• Frank Flood
• Patrick Doyle
• Bernard Ryan
• Thomas Bryan

All 6 were hanged by Ellis.
John Ellis was a native of Lancashire in England, born in 1874, and was the son of a hairdresser. Originally working in a textile factory, he had to give up this job due to an accident which precluded him from lifting heavy weights. He then became a hairdresser like his father and also began working as a hangman as a sideline in 1901 at the age of 26. After 7 years acting as an assistant executioner, he then became England's chief executioner for 16 years, during which time he hanged 203 people.

John Ellis, did not speak of his Irish political executions in his memoir Diary of a Hangman, but was recorded as saying that Roger Casement was, the bravest man it fell to my unhappy lot execute" (Quoted in Famous Trials by H Montgomery, Hyde (Hodder & Stoughton, 1973) & A Hangman's Record by Steve Fielding.)

Charles Duff in "A Handbook of Hanging, first published in 1928 and expanded and revised a number of times of the last being about 30 years after its first publication wrote the following in his typically offensive, egoistic, and poorly researched, poorly edited style :

"Towards the end of his career, our own Mr.Ellis had the humiliating task of hanging persons involved in the Irish Political troubles. Now the Irish are a pernicious, troublesome, resentful and long-memoried race, and Mr.Ellis is not the only person whose life they have made a burden. He was often threatened and sometimes had to have police protection, and even to carry a revolver for his own safety. Note that Ireland pays England the delicate compliment of employing English hangmen; they cannot find one of thier own in the Green Isle. The reason, I am told is that in Ireland a hangman, even at the present moment, runs considerable risk and...ha[s] to travel incognito. Apropos Ireland, this is a country which in its long, turbulent history provided vast scope for England's Hangmen, and one is hardly surprised to find that the Irish used to be 'susecptible to hanging,' as the Greeks are, to use their word for it, prakskoppomatik, which means 'susceptible to political coups d'etat. It is not uncommon to hear the proud Irishboast of the ever-reminiscent patriotic Irishman that so many members of his family were hanged as rebels...
...Mr. Hangman Berry used to disguise himself as a woman every time he thought he ran a risk of being lynched by an inconsiderate mob, as, for example, when he was commissioned to break Mrs Meybrick's neck..

Also hanged by Ellis.
Sir Roger David Casement was born into an Ulster Protestant family in 1864 and was knighted in 1911 for his work exposing human rights abuses in the rubber trade the Congo and in South America.
He was arrested trying to smuggle weapons from Germany into Ireland for the 1916 uprising, was charged with High Treason and hanged in Pentonville prison on August 3rd, 1916 and his body was buried in quicklime in the exercise yards of that prison.
The British Government agreed after many years of requests to this effect to return the body of Roger Casement to Ireland in February 1965.

[Draw attention to the graffitti and mention Pearse's Poem]

Stop 9: 1916 Corridor: 1916



In an address delivered at the Emmet Commemoration in the Academy of Music, Brooklyn, New York in 1914 (March 2nd), Patrick Pearse, who was himself to be a very prominent executee in this jail and in Irish Repblican History, said of Robert Emmet,

"No failure, judged as the world judges these things, was ever more complete, more pathetic than Emmet's. And yet he has left us a prouder memory than the memory of Brian victorious at Clontarf or of Owen Roe victorious at Benburb. It is the memory of a sacrifice Christ-like in its perfection. Dowered with all things splendid and sweet, he left all things and elected to die. Face to face with England in the dock at Green Street he uttered the most memorable words ever uttered by an Irishman; words which, ringing clear above a century's tumults, forbid us ever to waver or grow weary until our country takes her place among the nations of the earth.”

The poem, 'The rebel' by Patrick Pearse contains all the elements that constitute the profile of the martyr figure:

1. Fighting against injustice on behalf of an oppressed peple

2. Following the example of Jesus Christ in making the greatest contribution through death in self-sacrifice for the future generations.

3. Forewarning those that would carry out the execution of their future downfall that these actions will bring about.

The Rebel:

Verse III:
And because I am of the people, I understand the people,
I am sorrowful with thier sorrow, I am hungry with their desire:
My heart has been heavy with the grief of mothers,
My eyes have been wet with the tears of children.
I have yearned with old wistful men,
And laughed or cursed with young men;
Their shame is my shame, and I have reddened for it,
Reddened for that they have gone in want, while others have been full,
Reddened for that they have walked in fear of lawyers and of their jailers
With their writs of summons and their handcuffs,
Men mean and cruel!
I could have borne stripes on my body rather than this shame of my people.

And now I speak being full of vision;
I speak to my people, and I speak in my people's name to the masters of my people.
I say to my people that they are holy, that they are august, despite their chains,
That they are greater than those that hold them, and stronger and purer,
That they have but need of courage, and to call on the name of their God,
God the unforgetting, the dear God that loves the peoples
For whom He died naked, suffering shame.
And I say to my people's masters: Beware,
Beware of the thing that is coming, beware of the risen people,
Who shall take what ye would not give. Did ye think to conquer the people,
Or that Law is stronger than life and than men's desire to be free?
We will try it out with you, ye that have harried and held,
Ye that have bullied and bribed, tyrants, hypocrites, liars.

Stop 10: Civil War: 1922


• “Reprisal” nature of executions
• Summary nature of executions
• The personal relationships devastated by the divisive issue
• The execution of Rory O’Connor
• The Public Safety Act, 1922
• Bodies returned to the families.
• Quote from Dev in his letter to Molly Childers.
• How the executions did not have the same ideological impact as those of 1916 or the War of Independence.

• The letter of James Fisher:

Dear Mother,

I am now awaiting the supreme penalty at 7 O’clock in the morning but I am perfectly happy, because I’ve seen the Priest and I am going to die a good Catholic and a soldier of the Irish Republic. Don’t worry or cry for me, but pray for the repose of my soul and my three comrades. I asked to see you, but they say that they would see what they could do.

Ask all my friends and comrades to pray for me and Dick and my two comrades. Mother I would just love one look at all the faces at home, yours above all, but seemly that is denied me. I get everything I want now, which as you know is the usual stunt. Mother my heart grieves for one look at your dear face; but please God I will meet you and them in heaven. I picture how this will effect you, but Mother don’t fret, for remember I am happy. The Priest here is going to get to me to hear my confession, and I will receive at the altar in the morning.

Lord Jesus give me courage in my last moments. If I had only got told on my sentence I would have been well prepared before now. Oh Mother if I could only see you, just again. Don’t fret Mother because I am happy.

To my Mother I dearly love, goodbye, goodbye, goodbye.

We will meet again in heaven please God, Mother.

God Strengthen you in this ordeal Mother.

I am to die for Ireland.

- J.B. Fisher.

Stop 11: Sonebreakers Yard: 1916


The first executions took place on May 3rd 1916 at 3am (which was dawn – given the way clocks were set at this time)

It is believed that the majority of the men executed stood to attention at the spot marked by this simple black cross which is where sandbags were stacked to receive the volley of gunfire from the firing squad.

Order of preparation prior to arrival:

Target (White cloth or paper about 4 inches wide)
Hand bound
Eyes blindfolded

Con Colbert asked for his target to be re-positioned as it was not quite over his heart.

Major John MacBride requested that his hands not be bound and promised to remain perfectly still for his execution.
This request was not granted.
He then asked to forgo the blindfold and the soldier replied
“Sorry Sir, but these are the orders.”

The firing squad consisted of twelve members of the Sherwood Foresters who took up formation 10 paces from their target. 6 knelt, and 6 stood, and when given the order by the commanding officer, fired 11 bullets at the heart of the man before them. The second part of the process was, if necessary, the coup de grace: a single gun shot with a revolver, made by the commanding officer to the back of the skull.


• Patrick Pearse

The orator of the proclamation of the republic and the man who tendered the unconditional surrender of the Irish rebels, was the first to be executed at the break of dawn, May 3rd 1916, at 3.30am.

His only visitor prior to his execution was a monk of the capuchin order, Father Aloysius who was denied access to the execution despite his request.

• Thomas Clarke,

the oldest man to executed at the age of 58 was executed at 4am.
His arm was in a sling as he was wounded in the elbow during the rebellion.

His wife Kathleen who visited him in his cell prior to his execution recorded how he had said he was relieved that he was being executed, his one dread being the prospect of being imprisoned again.

In his lifetime, he had already spent 15 years suffering some of the worst treatment available in the british penal system and looked considerably older than his years as a result.

• Thomas MacDonagh

First in command of the Jacob’s Factory Garrison,

MacDonagh was reluctant to accept the order to surrender from Connolly and Pearse because the order was given after they were taken into custody.

The supreme command now devolved to him, and he thought he could hold out for a number of weeks.

After consulting with his colleagues he did decide to surrender,

despite the fact that it meant certain death for themselves personally, because he thought it would save, what he described as “many true men among our followers, good lives for Ireland.”


• Edward Daly

The borther-in-law of Thomas Clarke,

his sister Kathleen had the traumatic task of visiting her only brother prior to his death only 24 hours after she bid her last farewell to her husband, executed the previous night.

Under arrest herself at this time, she shortly afterward miscarried the child she was bearing.

• William Pearse
The younger brother of Patrick Pearse, an ordinary member of the rank and file rebel army, there appears to be little legal justification for his execution.

It appears that it was his relationship to his brother Patrick that sealed his fate.

The official court-martial records are still being held under the 100 year secrecy rule for sensitive military documents.

Michael O’Hanrahan
Michael O’Hanrahan’s family had been told by the British army that he was to be deported to England, they were only made aware of the truth when they arrived in the prison.

After Michael was taken from his cell for his execution, his own brother Harry was then placed in the cell to await his own sentence of death.
This sentence was ultimately reprieved.

• Joseph Mary Plunkett.
Married his fiancée Grace Gifford in the Chapel of the Gaol just hours before his execution,

Plunkett had been very ill with tuberculosis during the rebellion itself,
but Father Augustine who attended him recorded how he went to his execution with composure and a distinguished tranquility.

MAY 5th
• Major John MacBride
• A popular story is that John MacBride was unaware of the plans for the rebellion and was on his way to a wedding when he came across it.

MAY 8th

Sean Heuston
The youngest man to face execution at 25 years of age,

Father Albert who attended him recorded that Heuston was executed sitting on a soap box, it appears that this was not because Heuston could not stand, it appears that he was perfectly calm prior to his execution,

and that father Albert was so impressed by the beauty and fearlessness of his last moments that he said he “would have given anything to be in his place”.

• Michael Mallin
Michael Mallin was the father of four children and his wife gave birth to his fifth child after his death.

His family visited him on the eve of his execution and it appears that the sounds of crying coming from his cell were so sorrowful that a Cardinal Browne who was in the gaol to visit Sean Heuston, left that call, and asked to enter Mallin’s cell. Despite not having the required military permit, the guard who himself was in tears let him in.

His youngest son Joseph, who visited him in this cell at that time at 2 years, and who became a priest as per his father’s dying wish, and is a missionary in China, is now 91 years of age.
His most recent visit to the gaol was only two years ago and he is contemplating a return visit next year.

• Eamonn Ceannt
Was described in the account given by Father Augustine who attended to him before his execution and gave Ceannt his crucifix to hold during his execution to edify him, described Ceannt as “the poor, sweet, gentle soul, the dying saint, who died with forgiveness on his lips.”

He was executed sitting on a soap box and was reported to have still been alive after the volley of gun fire when the coup de grace was given by the commanding officer.

• Con Colbert
Given probably about 16 hours notice of his death sentence, Colbert did not want to put his family and himself through the ordeal of a final farewell.

Instead he wrote 10 letters to his family and was visited instead by one of the women who was with him in the Marrowbone Lane Garrison and was being held in the gaol.
She recorded how as she spoke to Colbert the soldier guarding them with a fixed bayonet was crying throughout.

MAY 12th

• Sean Mac Diarmada
Sean Mac Diarmada had walked with a limp since 1911 when he had had a serious bout of poliomyelitis.
He visited by a woman named Mary Ryan who Mac Diarmada said would most likely have been his wife had he survived.

When he went to his execution he probably did not have a single button on his clothing as he had taken them all off and inscribed these as well as every coin he and his visitors had in their pockets to give to his friends as souvenirs.

• James Connolly