Between 1923 and 1954 the Irish state executed twenty-nine people convicted of murder. Almost all executions were carried out in the hanghouse of Mountjoy Prison by members of the Pierrepoint family. The often shocking and fascinating stories of these men and one woman have been largely forgotten. Their remains lie behind prison walls as strange testaments to an abandoned form of punishment. Among those buried in Mountjoy are Bernard Kirwan, convicted of killing his brother, though a body was never conclusively identified. Kirwan’s presence in Mountjoy Prison and his execution inspired Brendan Behan’s play ‘The Quare Fellow’. Also there lie Henry McCabe, convicted of killing six people in a house in Malahide, and Annie Walsh, convicted of murdering her husband for compensation money. Few had ever been convicted of a crime before each was convicted of the most serious of all. The voices of some seem to whisper from the unmarked graves that it was not they who carried out the crime as doubts remain about the safety of some of the convictions. ‘Hanged for Murder’ tells their stories, some in graphic detail, for the first time.
Tim Carey wrote the bestselling Mountjoy - The Story of a Prison (2000), Hanged for Ireland (2001) and Croke Park - A History (2004), and he co-wrote The Martello Towers of Dublin (2012). A regular media contributor, he is a graduate of Trinity College and University College Dublin, and is currently heritage officer with Dun Laoghaire-Rathdown County Council. Follow him on Twitter @tim_carey1