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    A Family Affair?: English Hangmen and a Dublin Jail, 1923–54

    O'Donnell, Ian and Doyle, David M. (2014) A Family Affair?: English Hangmen and a Dublin Jail, 1923–54. New Hibernia Review, 18 (4). pp. 101-118. ISSN 1092-3977

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    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.1 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.2 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.3 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.”4 This final puzzle may, however, be illuminated by a detailed examination of the men who discharged this grisly function.

    Item Type: Article
    Keywords: Family Affair; English Hangmen; Dublin jail;
    Academic Unit: Faculty of Social Sciences > Law
    Item ID: 11677
    Identification Number:
    Depositing User: David Doyle
    Date Deposited: 12 Nov 2019 14:11
    Journal or Publication Title: New Hibernia Review
    Publisher: Center for Irish Studies at the University of St. Thomas
    Refereed: Yes
    Use Licence: This item is available under a Creative Commons Attribution Non Commercial Share Alike Licence (CC BY-NC-SA). Details of this licence are available here

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