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October 23 , 2009

Land war in Co. Galway, 1879-1885: The case of the Craughwell prisoners


At the height of the Land War in 1881, a dispute over land led to the shooting dead of a young man called Peter Doherty near Craughwell, County Galway. Intense police investigations discovered two informers whose perjured testimony before packed juries resulted in the conviction of two innocent men, Patrick Finnegan and Constable Michael Muldowney. The book features a forensic analysis of the trials that resulted in such a grave miscarriage of justice. Original research in primary sources has uncovered the role of informers, the payments made to them and their eventual ‘disposal’ by the Dublin Castle authorities. Following commutation of the death sentences each of the prisoners served terms of twenty years penal servitude and became known as the ‘Craughwell prisoners’. The experiences of the prisoners in Mountjoy and Maryborough jails are revealed from the prison files, which also contain their heartfelt please for release and pardon, and affirmations of their innocence.

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