My Photo
Location: Dublin, Ireland

Thursday, January 12, 2006

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


Post a Comment

<< Home