20th century executions in the Irish Republic (Eire).

There were 164 executions in the Irish Republic during the 20th century.  Twelve men and one woman were hanged under British civil jurisdiction between 1900 and 1911. Thereafter, there were no more executions for civilian crimes under British rule. However, 15 men were executed by firing squad for treason, under British jurisdiction, for their parts in the 1916 Easter Rebellion. (see below).
There were 102 executions during the War of Independence (against Britain, 1919-1921) and the Civil War (1922-23) with 91 men shot and 11 hanged. In September 1922, the Dαil (parliament) passed a resolution providing for the death penalty for terrorist offences, following trial by military tribunal. As a result, the provisional “26 counties” government executed 75 people in the 6 months from November 1922 to April 1923, all by firing squad at various locations.

All the hangings were carried out by the serving British hangman of the day at Dublin’s Mountjoy prison.  Mountjoy nowadays serves as a closed medium security prison and is situated in Phibsboro on Dublin’s North Circular Road. It was designed by Joshua Jebb, who had also worked on London’s Pentonville Prison, and opened in 1850.  The condemned cell, which is two standard cells knocked into one and boasts a fireplace at each end, is on the ground floor at the end of D Wing and is immediately across the landing from the “hanghouse”.  In this execution chamber are double parallel beams set into the gable walls from which a heavy steel chain hangs down for attachment of the rope.  The trap is of the normal double leaf pattern and operated by a lever.  In the pit below there is a large portable staircase for examining and removing the body after death.
The glass roofed “hanghouse” has been preserved by the prison’s governor, John Lonergan, who did not want to see a very important piece of Irish heritage disappear.  The only modification since it was last used in 1954 is the provision of a wooden railing around the drop to prevent visitors falling through. Repairs to the cracked glass in the roof were required as water was getting in and causing the chain to rust and also damage to the stairs leading down into the pit.

Mountjoy’s first hanging was that of James Toole on the 7th of March 1901 for cutting the throat of his girlfriend Lizzie Brennan. Thirty three people, including one woman, were executed at Mountjoy between 1901 and 1954. Annie Walsh of Co. Limerick was hanged on the 5th of August 1925 for the murder of her husband. (The British administration had reprieved all six females sentenced to death in the 17 years prior to independence). Her co-defendant, Michael Talbot, was hanged with her.
Twenty five year old Michael Manning became the last to be executed at Mountjoy in April 1954, for the murder of Catherine Cooper, an elderly nurse.
There is a wooden plaque on the outside wall of the “hanghouse” bearing the names of the ten men hanged during the War of Independence. These were Kevin Barry, Patrick Moran, Thomas Whelan, Thomas Bryan, Patrick Doyle, Frank Flood, Bernard Ryan, Thomas Traynor, Edmund Foley & Patrick Maher.

Capital punishment was partially abolished in 1964, for all but a few very specific forms of murder, notably the murder of police officers (the Garda) or prison officers. The last to be sentenced to death were Noel Callen and Michael McHugh for the murder of Garda Patrick Morrissey after a robbery in County Louth in 1985, in which McHugh fired the fatal shot. Noel and Marie Murray came close to being the last to be executed, having been convicted of the capital murder of Garda Michael Reynolds, following an armed bank robbery in Dublin in 1975. They both refused to seek clemency, so to avoid international embarrassment, the president decided to impose it upon them whether they wanted it or not. On the 1st of November 1976, the Supreme Court quashed Noel’s capital murder conviction and substituted one of common murder and ordered a re-trial for Marie in 1977 - this time she was found guilty of only common murder. They were both released in 1992. The Dαil finally abolished the death penalty completely in 1990, when new legislation created a 40 year minimum prison term for exceptional murders.  Of the 11 people who received death sentences in Eire in the 1970's and 1980's, all have been released except Noel Callen and Michael McHugh who were sentenced to life with a minimum of 40 years, in 1985. On July 18, 2013, the Supreme Court of Ireland ruled that Callan is eligible for remission of one quarter of his sentence, making him eligible for parole in July 2015.  McHugh will also benefit similarly from this ruling.

Date

Name

Age

Place

Crime/victim

Hangman

Tue

10/04/1900

Patrick Dunphy

34

Waterford

Sons, Eddie & John

Thomas Scott

Fri

11/01/1901

Timothy Cadogan

 

Cork (county)

Dr. Baird

James Billington

Thur

07/03/1901

James Toole

62

Mountjoy

Lizzie Brennan

Thomas Scott

Wed

23/04/1902

Thomas Keeley

28

Galway

Landlady – Mary Clashy

William Billington

Tue

30/12/1902

James Docherty

65

Sligo

Son

William Billington

Wed

07/01/1903

Joseph Taylor

25

Kilkenny

Mr. Daly (see Mary Daly below)

William Billington

Fri

09/01/1903

Mary Daly

40

Tullamore

Husband

William Billington

Thur

14/04/1904

James Campion

 

Kilkenny

Wife

William Billington

Fri

15/04/1904

John Kelly

 

Kilkenny

Wife

William Billington

Tue

25/04/1905

John Foster

 

Cork City

William Ryan - Soldier

William Billington

Tue

04/01/1910

Joseph Hefferman

27

Kilmainham

Mary Walker

Henry Pierrepoint

Wed

04/01/1911

William Scanlan

 

Cork

Sister in law

John Ellis

Thur

29/11/1923

William Downs

25

Mountjoy

Det. Insp. Thomas Fitzgerald

John Ellis

Wed

12/12/1923

Thomas Delaney

38

Mountjoy

Robbery murder of Patrick Hogan (74)

Tom Pierrepoint

Wed

12/12/1923

Thomas M' Donagh

42

Mountjoy

Murder woman

Tom Pierrepoint

Sat

15/12/1923

Peter Hynes

40

Mountjoy

Thomas Grimstone

Tom Pierrepoint

Thur

13/03/1924

Jeremiah Gaffney

23

Mountjoy

Thomas Brosnan

Tom Pierrepoint

Fri

01/08/1924

Felix McMullen

26

Mountjoy

Garda Patrick O’Hallaran

Tom Pierrepoint

Tue

28/07/1925

Cornelius O' Leary

40

Mountjoy

Patrick O’Leary (brother)

Tom Pierrepoint

Wed

05/08/1925

Annie Walsh &

31

Mountjoy

Husband, Edward

Tom Pierrepoint

Wed

05/08/1925

Michael Talbot (nephew)

24

Mountjoy

Helping above murder

Tom Pierrepoint

Thur

15/07/1926

James Myles

22

Mountjoy

John Smith snr. & jnr.

Tom Pierrepoint

Wed

24/11/1926

James M' Hugh

31

Mountjoy

Robbery/murder of old man

Tom Pierrepoint

Thur

09/12/1926

Henry M' Cabe

48

Mountjoy

4 members McDonnell family
(his employers) plus 2 other servants

Tom Pierrepoint

Thur

29/12/1927

William O' Neill

19

Mountjoy

Mary Farrell

Tom Pierrepoint

Wed

29/08/1928

Gerard Toal

18

Mountjoy

Miss Mary Callan

Tom Pierrepoint

Thur

25/04/1929

John Cox

33

Mountjoy

Jacon Kuntz

Tom Pierrepoint

Thur

04/08/1931

David O'Shea

34

Mountjoy

Rape/murder of Ellen O’Sullivan

Tom Pierrepoint

Thur

29/12/1932

Patrick McDermott

26

Mountjoy

John McDermott (brother)

Tom Pierrepoint

Fri

05/01/1934

John Fleming

32

Mountjoy

Wife, Ellen

Tom Pierrepoint

Fri

17/06/1937

John Hornick

 

Mountjoy

James Redmond

Tom Pierrepoint

Sat

07/01/1939

Dermot Smith

33

Mountjoy

Cornelius Dennehey

Tom Pierrepoint

Fri

06/09/1940

Patrick McGrath

 

Mountjoy

I.R.A. murder

Firing squad

Fri

06/09/1940

Thomas Harte

 

Mountjoy

I.R.A. murder

Firing squad

Tue

07/01/1941

Daniel Doherty

29

Mountjoy

Hannah Doherty (cousin)

Tom Pierrepoint

Wed

23/04/1941

Henry Gleeson

39

Mountjoy

Mary McCarthy

Tom Pierrepoint

Sat

09/08/1941

Richard Goss

26

Maryborough
(Portlaoise)

Shot at police

Firing squad

Thur

18/12/1941

Patrick Kelly

31

Mountjoy

Mary Breheny

Not known

Thur

05/03/1942

George Plant

38

Maryborough
(Portlaoise)

Murder

Firing squad

Thur

12/11/1942

Maurice O' Neill

 

Mountjoy

Shot at police

Firing squad

Wed

02/06/1943

Bernard Kirwan

39

Mountjoy

Lawrence Kirwan (brother)

Tom Pierrepoint

Thur

12/08/1943

William O' Shea

24

Mountjoy

Wife, Maureen

Tom Pierrepoint

Fri

01/12/1944

Charles Kerins

 

Mountjoy

Murder police officer

Tom Pierrepoint

Mon

19/03/1945

James Lehman

 

Mountjoy

Wife, Margaret

Not known

Mon

31/03/1947

Joseph McManus

41

Mountjoy

Alice Gerard (girlfriend)

Albert Pierrepoint

Wed

24/11/1948

William Gambon

28

Mountjoy

John Long

Albert Pierrepoint

Tue

20/04/1954

Michael Manning

25

Mountjoy

Rape/murder of Catherine Cooper (nun)

Albert Pierrepoint

 

In May 1916, 14 men were shot by firing squad in the Quarry Yard at Dublin’s Kilmainham Jail and one more (Thomas Kent) at Cork Barracks, having been convicted of treason for their parts in the 1916 Easter Rebellion.  Kilmainham Jail has been restored and is now open to the public. Plaques mark the place where these executions were carried out.

 

Tom Clarke

Wednesday 3rd May

Thomas MacDonagh

Wednesday 3rd May

Padraic Pearse

Wednesday 3rd May

Joseph Mary Plunkett

Thursday 4th May

William Pearse

Thursday 4th May

Ned Daly

Thursday 4th May

Michael O'Hanrahan

Thursday 4th May

John MacBride

Friday 5th May

Eamonn Ceannt

Monday 8th May

Michael Mallin

Monday 8th May

Conn Colbert

Monday 8th May

Sean Heuston

Monday 8th May

Thomas Kent

Tuesday 9th May

Sean MacDiarmada

Friday 12th May

James Connolly

Friday 12th May

 

102 executions were carried out during the War of Independence and the Irish Civil War for terrorist murders and treason. Most of these were by military firing squad and were typically carried out in batches. John Ellis carried out the hangings in Mountjoy prison, as he was the U.K.’s principal executioner at the time.

 

Day

Date

Name

Place

Method

Mon

01/11/1920

Kevin Barry

Dublin (Mountjoy)

Hanging

Tue

01/02/1921

Cornelius Murphy

Cork

Firing squad

Mon

28/02/1921

John Allen

Cork

Firing squad

“

“

Thomas O'Brien

Cork

Firing squad

“

“

Daniel Callaghan

Cork

Firing squad

“

“

John Lyons

Cork

Firing squad

“

“

Timothy McCarthy

Cork

Firing squad

“

“

Patrick Mahoney

Cork

Firing squad

Mon

14/03/1921

Thomas Whelan

Dublin (Mountjoy)

Hanging

“

“

Patrick Moran

Dublin (Mountjoy)

Hanging

“

“

Patrick Doyle

Dublin (Mountjoy)

Hanging

“

“

Bernard Ryan

Dublin (Mountjoy)

Hanging

“

“

Thomas Bryan

Dublin (Mountjoy)

Hanging

“

“

Frank Flood

Dublin (Mountjoy)

Hanging

Mon

25/04/1921

Thomas Traynor

Dublin (Mountjoy)

Hanging

Thur

28/04/1921

Maurice Moore

Cork

Firing squad

“

“

Patrick O'Sullivan

Cork

Firing squad

“

“

Patrick Ronayne

Cork

Firing squad

“

“

Thomas Mulcahy

Cork

Firing squad

Mon

02/05/1921

Patrick Casey

Cork

Firing squad

Mon

16/05/1921

Daniel O'Brien

Cork

Firing squad

Mon

06/06/1921

Thomas Keane

Limerick

Firing squad

Tue

07/06/1921

Patrick Maher

Dublin (Mountjoy)

Hanging

“

“

Edmund Foley

Dublin (Mountjoy)

Hanging

“

“

William Mitchell

Dublin (Mountjoy)

Hanging

Fri

17/11/1922

Peter Cassidy

Dublin (Kilmainham)

Firing squad

“

“

Richard Tuohy

Dublin (Kilmainham)

Firing squad

“

“

John Gaffney

Dublin (Kilmainham)

Firing squad

“

“

James Fisher

Dublin (Kilmainham)

Firing squad

Fri

24/11/1922

Erskin Childers

Dublin

Firing squad

Thur

30/11/1922

Joseph Spooner

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

Patrick Farrally

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

John Murphy

Dublin

Firing squad

Fri

08/12/1922

Rory O'Connor

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

Liam Mellows

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

Joseph McKelvey

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

Richard Barrett

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

Stephen White

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

Joseph Johnstone

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

Patrick Mangan

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

Patrick Nolan

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

Brian Moore

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

James O'Connor

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

Patrick Bagrel

Dublin

Firing squad

Fri

29/12/1922

John Phelan

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

John Murphy

Dublin

Firing squad

Mon

08/01/1923

Ley Dowling

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

Sylvestor Heaney

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

Lawrence Sheehy

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

Anthony O' Reilly

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

Terence Brady

Dublin

Firing squad

Fri

12/01/1923

Thomas McKeown

Dundalk

Firing squad

“

“

Thomas Murray

Dundalk

Firing squad

“

“

Thomas Murphy

Dundalk

Firing squad

Mon

15/01/1923

Frederick Burke

Roscrea

Firing squad

“

“

Patrick Russell

Roscrea

Firing squad

“

“

Martin O' Shea

Roscrea

Firing squad

“

“

Patrick Macnamara

Roscrea

Firing squad

“

“

James Lilis

Carlow

Firing squad

Sat

20/01/1923

James Daly

Tralee

Firing squad

“

“

John Clifford

Tralee

Firing squad

“

“

Micheal Brosnam

Tralee

Firing squad

“

“

James Hanlon

Tralee

Firing squad

“

“

Cornelius McMahon

Limerick

Firing squad

“

“

Patrick Hennessey

Limerick

Firing squad

“

“

Thomas Hughes

Athlone

Firing squad

“

“

Micheal Walsh

Athlone

Firing squad

“

“

Herbert Collis

Athlone

Firing squad

“

“

Stephen Joyce

Athlone

Firing squad

“

“

Martin Burke

Athlone

Firing squad

Mon

22/01/1923

James Melia (20)

Dundalk

Firing squad

“

“

Thomas Lennon (19)

Dundalk

Firing squad

“

“

Joseph Ferguson (27)

Dundalk

Firing squad

Thur

25/01/1923

Micheal Fitzgerald

Waterford

Firing squad

“

“

Patrick O' Reilly

Waterford

Firing squad

Fri

26/01/1923

Patrick Cunningham

Birr

Firing squad

“

“

William Conroy

Birr

Firing squad

“

“

Colum Kelly

Birr

Firing squad

Sat

27/01/1923

Patrick Geraghty

Portlaoise

Firing squad

“

“

Joseph Byrne

Portlaoise

Firing squad

Tue

13/03/1923

Henry Keenan

Mullingar

Firing squad

“

“

Micheal Greery

Mullingar

Firing squad

“

“

James O' Rourke

Dublin

Firing squad

“

“

William Healey

Cork

Firing squad

“

“

James Parle

Wexford

Firing squad

“

“

Patrick Hogan

Wexford

Firing squad

“

“

John Creane

Wexford

Firing squad

Wed

14/03/1923

John Larkin

Drumboe Castle

Firing squad

“

“

Timothy O' Sullivan

Drumboe Castle

Firing squad

“

“

Daniel Enwright

Drumboe Castle

Firing squad

“

“

Charles Daly

Drumboe Castle

Firing squad

Sat

14/04/1923

James O' Malley

Tuam

Firing squad

“

“

Micheal Monaghan

Tuam

Firing squad

“

“

Francis Cunnane

Tuam

Firing squad

“

“

John Newell

Tuam

Firing squad

“

“

John Maguire

Tuam

Firing squad

“

“

Martin Moylan

Tuam

Firing squad

Wed

25/04/1923

Edward Greaney

Tralee

Firing squad

“

“

Reginald Hathaway

Tralee

Firing squad

“

“

James McInery

Tralee

Firing squad

Wed

02/05/1923

Christopher Quin

Ennis

Firing squad

“

“

William Shaughnessey

Ennis

Firing squad

 

Back to main contents page.