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Maamtrasna Murders: Members of UK House of Lords seek miscarriage of justice declared in hanging


diy01

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From the Galway Advertiser via Gaelport.com

Two British Lords are seeking a review of the case of Myles Joyce, alleged to have been involved in the infamous Maamtrasna murders in 1882. They want the authorities to declare him the victim of a miscarriage of justice and to concede he was falsely convicted and executed.

Are there other cases known from Ireland where language issues were a factor?

The Maamtrasna Murders took place on August 17 1882 when a family of five were slaughtered in their mountainside cottage in the Lough Mask area on the Galway/Mayo border.

Ten men from the surrounding area were arrested and charged, and three - Pat Joyce, Pat Pádraig Shéamuis Casey, and Myles Joyce were found guilty and sentenced to death.

Another five were sentenced to penal servitude. The three were brought back to Galway Gaol where, shortly before they were hanged, Pat Joyce and Pat Casey admitted separately that they were guilty but that Myles was innocent. However the hangings went ahead on December 15 1882 and their bodies were buried in the grounds of the prison, in what is now the Cathedral carpark.

However the reliability of the trial, much of the evidence given, and the trustworthiness of some of the witnesses has since been called into serious question, leading to the current efforts of the two British lords.
A monoglot Irish speaker, Myles Joyce, who had no English, was defended in court in Dublin by a solicitor and barristers who spoke no Irish. The evidence he gave as Gaeilge was ignored in court. Evidence which might have helped his defence was withheld and the trial also heard from informers gave false evidence against him. The judge and jury who convicted him had no Irish and the jury deliberated for less than six minutes to decide on his guilt before sentence of death was passed.
...Mr Joyce’s final words before being hanged were: Feicfidh mé Íosa Críost ar ball – crochadh eisean san éagóir freisin” - I will soon see Jesus Christ - he too was hanged unjustly.
Background: The Maamtrasna Murders, August 17 1882
 


Eoin Coir

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Terrible slaughter of 5 people. Doubt about convictions of 2 of them, esp Myles Joyce who was hanged. Fr. Waldron wrote a book about it a few years ago with access to primary sources.
Matter is being taken up by a former MP David Alton, whose mother is from Tourmakeady. May have impacted on Home Rule as Irish party used their influence to try and influence the matter, unsuccessfully
 

Eoin Coir

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n ever really known what the motive was , possibly the Joyce house was attacked because he was alleged to be sheep stealing, or maybe motive was robbery, Ribbonmen or whatever. Some folk gave evidence which they later retracted in Tourmakeady Church in presence of Bishop. One young boy survived by hiding under a bed.
 

gloria

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This is a fascinating saga that spans over 20 years..
It should be a film, it is a largely forgotten piece of history that was widely reported and discusses in 1882..
If it had happened now, with the sharing of information it would be discussed endlessly on sites like this.. even more-so than the Madeline McCann case. The Maamtrasna murders are to this day unsolved.
I would love to see this case re-examined even now..
Apart from the victims of the crime who were slaughtered in an appalling fashion, lives were ruined, people were imprisoned and hanged who may have been innocent.

The trial was a farce, in part because the defendants were tried in English whereas they were only Irish speakers. Evidence was suppressed, and the verdict was delivered 5 minutes by the English speaking jury.

The surviving child from the Joyce family, eight year old Patsy, who witnessed the horror was brought to court, but as he was distressed and didn't speak English his testimony was dismissed.

The real perpetrators of this terrible crime have never been identified, nor has the reason behind the slaying of the family.

The reaction of Myles Joyce who proclaimed his innocence, yet was hanged to death is heartbreaking, his last words were to pray for his wife and her five orphans.

The manner in which the case was reported in The NY Times in 1882 was very interesting. It was well reported, but how they described the people and area would now cause outrage and endless discussion.

http://query.nytimes.com/mem/archive-free/pdf?res=FA0715F73F5910738DDDAA0994DA415B8284F0D3
 
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ergo2

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I agree with posts above.

This was a massive miscarriage of justice. Father Waldrons book covers it very well.

I recall being in a District COurt covering that area about 30 years ago.

A Sergeant investigating an incident said in court that he was not making much progress with enquiries in the area.

After court I asked him if the reluctance to speak to Gardaí had anything to do with Mám Treasna. He thought that likely - long memories in the country side on such matters.
 

Catalpast

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Are the bodies of the hanged men still beneath the car park or have they since been given a decent burial?
 

Mushroom

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Are the bodies of the hanged men still beneath the car park or have they since been given a decent burial?
Given that two of them appear to have admitted that they had slaughtered a family of five, including three women (Gerry Adams would surely have approved) - why should they be given a "decent reburial"?
 

Snowboy

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I agree with posts above.

This was a massive miscarriage of justice. Father Waldrons book covers it very well.

I recall being in a District COurt covering that area about 30 years ago.

A Sergeant investigating an incident said in court that he was not making much progress with enquiries in the area.

After court I asked him if the reluctance to speak to Gardaí had anything to do with Mám Treasna. He thought that likely - long memories in the country side on such matters.
There were several cases like it, with people shot and families exiled. No one emerges with much credit from it, either the national movement or the British.
 

Catalpast

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Given that two of them appear to have admitted that they had slaughtered a family of five, including three women (Gerry Adams would surely have approved) - why should they be given a "decent reburial"?
Fair point!

But one of them was innocent so he deserves it
 

ergo2

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There were several cases like it, with people shot and families exiled. No one emerges with much credit from it, either the national movement or the British.
there was no evidence that any "national movement" had anything to do with the Mám Treasna murders
 

Plebian

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Read this book about them 20 years ago and found it an excellent read, it would make an excellent plot for a film alright.
 

Eoin Coir

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there was no evidence that any "national movement" had anything to do with the Mám Treasna murders
never fully explained. Some talk of ribbon boys, other talk that Myles had stole sheep, other talk that an RIC young constable used visit house as one of the girls was good looking and locals suspected them of giving him info. Fr.Waldron's book (the real account)did not arrive at any definitive conclusion
 

retep

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Are the bodies of the hanged men still beneath the car park or have they since been given a decent burial?
As far as I recall, possibly from Fr Waldrons excellent book, I believe all executed inmates of Galway Gaol were buried in a plot within the prison. There is a plaque behind the cathedral now in the approximate spot commemorating all these unfortunate souls, though not specifically Myles or the other convicted Maamtrasna men
 

eyelight

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I think this gets a passing mention in the footnotes of "The Poor Mouth".
Somewhere near the end of the book, when Bonaparte is jailed after a trial he can't understand, having only the Gaeilge.
 

Snowboy

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Read this book about them 20 years ago and found it an excellent read, it would make an excellent plot for a film alright.
Well worth it, but why does every such book/incident have to become a movie?
 

gloria

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Well worth it, but why does every such book/incident have to become a movie?
Not everything must become a movie.. but this is such a little known piece of history and it has many layers..
Murder, mystery, miscarriage of justice, politics, religion...
and the landscape of Connemara would make a dramatic setting for such a film.
 

Snowboy

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Incidents like it happened all over the west in those years. Connemara is only dramatic if you're a tourist. In good weather.
 

gloria

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Incidents like it happened all over the west in those years. Connemara is only dramatic if you're a tourist. In good weather.
The locals in Maamtrasna are still very reluctant to talk about what happened then...
 

Snowboy

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The locals in Maamtrasna are still very reluctant to talk about what happened then...
Very understandably. Two books came out in the last dozen years concerning other events at the time in County Galway, and there was a similar reaction from folk of a certain generation. However most people want to know, and that can only be a good thing. Stifling such events in secrets and whispers never does any good.
 

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