Institutions | About Us | Help | Gaeilge
rian logo

Go Back
A family affair? English Hangmen and a Dublin jail, 1923-54
O'Donnell, Ian; Doyle, David
The genealogy of capital punishment in twentieth-century Ireland defies easy articulation, and several aspects of the practice appear especially perplexing in the absence of an appreciation of a precise historical context. It is puzzling, for instance, that Irish politicians couched arguments favoring the retention of capital punishment in terms of its perceived efficacy as a deterrent to potential subversives when the death penalty was imposed almost exclusively for non-political civilian murder. It is puzzling, too, that the taoisigh and ministers who were prepared to allow executions go ahead had not only been comrades with men executed during the revolutionary period, but in some cases, had themselves been sentenced to death. It is puzzling that the sanction was retained after Independence when one considers the "politicization" of capital punishment and the attendant public antipathy toward what was seen as an unfortunate colonial (and civil war) legacy; in the minds of many nationalists, hanging was nothing more than a manifestation of English tyranny. And, finally, it is puzzling that when the need arose to execute a condemned person in Ireland an English hangman was always contracted to arrange the "drop." This final puzzle may, however, be illuminated by a detailed examination of the men who discharged this grisly function.
Keyword(s): Capital punishment; Murder; Ireland; Pierrepoint, Albert; Pierrepoint, Thomas
Publication Date:
Type: Journal article
Peer-Reviewed: Unknown
Language(s): English
Institution: University College Dublin
Publisher(s): University of St. Thomas. Center for Irish Studies
First Indexed: 2015-01-07 06:11:26 Last Updated: 2018-10-11 15:35:53