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Unjust verdict casts a shadow over Gaeltacht community 130 years on

Unjust verdict casts a shadow over Gaeltacht community 130 years on

The Mayo Gaeltacht community rarely discuss the wrongful hanging of Maolra Seoighe for involvement with the Maam Trasna murders 130 years ago.

Although more than a century has passed since this act of injustice, it still proves difficult for members of the community to forget the story.

In 1882, Maolra Seoighe, a Gaeltacht man with no English, was hanged and buried in the grounds of Galway Prison 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 in Dublin. The evidence he had presented in Irish was ignored and it took no longer than 6 minutes to declare him guilty of murder.

The life of Maolra Seoighe will be commemorated on 15 December, 130 years exactly to the day of his hanging. spoke to Seán Ó Cuirreáin, An Coimisinéir Teanga about his involvement in this special event:

“I have a personal interest in this case as it can be viewed from so many angles. Maolra Seoighe was called ‘an ignorant, uncouth, uneducated man’ by his own lawyer as Irish was the only language he spoke. Things have certainly changed since then.

The aim of this event is to support an on-going campaign which is being run by Lord Alton and Lord Avebury in Britain urging the British authorities to review Maolra Seoighe’s case and to declare it a miscarriage of justice.

A review of the case has been denied in the past as it was claimed to be ‘without sufficient public demand’ and we are hoping the event will raise awareness about language rights in the way that Maolra Seoighe’s rights were completely denied to him.

I hope the event will also spread information about language rights in the courts and that there will be a more widespread use of Irish in the courts. People are often misled into thinking that English is the language of the authorities but the Irish language is very clearly engrained in the law”.

Among the events which will take place on 15 December, there will be a commemorative Mass in his honour at the Cathedral in Galway, a symposium at Galway City Museum and an exhibition of historic material and screening of an RTÉ documentary on Maam Cross. Further information on events will be released in coming weeks.


© Foilsithe ar 27 Samhain 2012

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