Event Details

Maolra Seoighe remembered 130 years on

Maolra Seoighe remembered 130 years on

15 December 2012 - 15 December 2012

An event is being organised on Saturday, 15th December 2012 in memory of Gaeltacht man, Maolra Seoighe who was wrongly charged for involvement with the notorious Maamtrasna Murders and sentenced to death 130 years ago on 15th December 1882.

In 1882, Maolra Seoighe, a Gaeltacht man with no English was hanged and buried in the grounds of Galway Prison which is where the gables of the Galway Cathedral rise high above his final resting place in the current car park grounds.

In August 1882 John Seoighe and his family were brutally murdered in their home in Maamtrasna which is located near Lough Mask in  Co. Mayo on the border of Co. Galway.

As a result of not having received proper legal defence. His solicitors and barristers had no Irish nor did the judge or jury on the day of his court case. The evidence he had presented in Irish was ignored and it took no longer than 6 minutes to declare him guilty of murder. It is widely accepted that Maolra and four other prisoners were innocent.

The Maamtrasna Murders happened at a time of deep unrest in Ireland. Three years previously, the most effective protest against the insidious landlord domination of the vast majority of the Irish people found expression in the Land League.

On 15th December 1882 just four months after the murders which followed court hearing in Dublin Maolra Seoighe was hung in the prison grounds where the Galway Cathedral is situtaed today.

The event to commemorate 130 years since Maolra Seoighe’s hanging is being organised in association with Galway City Museum, Oifig an Choimisinéara Teanga, and Conradh na Gaeilge as a symbol of the significant progress which has taken place in terms of Irish language rights over the past 130 years.

The commemoration on Saturday, 15th December, the 130th anniversary of the hanging of Maolra Seoighe, hanging will include an Irish language mass in his memory in Galway Cathedral at 1pm followed by the laying of wreaths on the spot where the gallows on which he was hanged stood and where his body lies buried under the tarmac in the cathedral car park.

After 2:15pm the Galway City Museum located in Spanish Parade House will host a symposium and talks, where the public will hear contributions from historian Professor Gearóid Ó Tuathaigh, Lord Alton from the British House of Lords – whose mother was a native Irish speaker from the Tuar Mhic Éadaigh Gaeltacht bordering Maamtrasna. There will also be a contribution from Johnny Joyce from Dublin, a descendant of the Joyce family whose murder in Maamtrasna led to the conviction of Myles Joyce. An exhibition, readings from historical material and an RTÉ film about the Maamtrasna murders will also feature.

The talented Conamara box player Johnny Óg Connolly will play a lament for Maolra Seoighe which he especially composed for this special occasion. Club Árus na nGael in Dominic street in the heart of Galway city are hosting an evening of music afterwards.

On 15th December 1882 the hangman William Marwood efforts didn’t go according to plan and Maolra Seoighe’ died from strangulation rather than hanging, and that his death was torturously slow and painful.  Maolra Seoighe’s wife was heavily pregnant and expecting their child the week he was hung. 

Two years later, one of the informers who had given sworn evidence against Maolra Seoighe presented himself before the Archbishop of Tuam, Dr. MacEvilly and the congregation during a confirmation ceremony in Tuar Mhic Éadaigh church in Co. Mayo and confessed that the evidence he had given under oath had been false and that there was no basis to his contention to the court that Myles Joyce was involved with the murders.

Of the eight who were convicted for the Maamtrasna murders, three were hanged but it is generally accepted that one of those, Myles Joyce, was innocent. Five others were sentenced to penal servitude for life and two of those died in prison. Four of those prisoners were also believed to be totally innocent. In 1902 the three surviving prisoners – two brothers and a nephew of Myles Joyce - were freed having spent 20 years in jail.

However, official state records portray them all as convicted murderers.

At present David Alton, Baron Alton of Liverpool, and Eric Lubbock, the fourth Baron Avebury are seeking a review of the case of Maolra Seoighe , alleged to have been involved in the Maamtrasna murders, and for the authorities to declare him the victim of a miscarriage of justice and to concede he was falsely convicted and executed.
Foilsithe ar gaelport.com 29 Samhain 2012

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