The fruit of my experience has this bitter aftertaste. Capital punishment, in my view, achieved nothing except revenge.” Albert Pierrepoint, executioner.

Ireland has had a bitter history of capital punishment. Long before we became a nation, the British had used the death penalty to quell the dissent of the Irish population. Padraig Pearse, James Connolly and Robert Emmet are among those Irish heroes who were hanged, shot or beheaded by the British Government. It is not therefore surprising that the Irish had planned to abolish the hangman, the original draft of the constitution even prohibiting the death penalty. However the bloody and divisive Civil War soon changed minds. Many Irish citizens still viewed the punishment with distaste, nevertheless, and an Irish hangman was never used. A succession of English hangmen, most notably the Pierrepoints, were employed to perform the grim task, and were often met off the boat by large jeering crowds.

Between 1922 and 1990, a huge number of people convicted of murder had the death sentence imposed on them by the Irish State. The motivations for the murders varied from lust to greed, jealousy to hatred. The result of each case however, was the same. All of the protagonists were found guilty, given a date of execution and banished to a condemned cell in Mountjoy prison. A number of the unfortunate individuals met their fate at the end of the rope. The majority, however, had their sentences commuted, many just hours before they were due to be hanged. This book examines the stories behind thirty of these reprieved murderers.


Colm Wallace was born in Renvyle, Co. Galway in the later 1980s. He attended Eagles’ Nest National School and St. Mary’s College Galway, before studying Education and Irish at Mary Immaculate College, Limerick. He works as a national school teacher and still lives in his native Galway.



ISBN: 978 0 9927364 91
248pp; 234 x 156mm
Paperback with flaps
20 b/w photographs

True Crime/Irish History
16 June 2016
Somerville Press