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  1. #1
    Catalpast Catalpast is offline
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    23 November 1867 - 150 years ago today - The Execution of the Manchester Martyrs Allen Larkin & O'Brien

    23 November 1867 - 150 years ago today - The Execution of the Manchester Martyrs Allen Larkin & O'Brien

    23 November 1867: Execution of the Manchester Martyrs William Philip Allen, Michael Larkin and Michael O’Brien. They were publicly hanged for their alleged role in the rescue of Fenian prisoners in which a Constable Brett was fatally wounded. Although neither Larkin, Allen and O’Brien had fired the fatal shot nor had they had any intention to kill anybody, they were hanged as accessories to the death of the policeman.


    The martyrs were hanged in front of the New Bailey prison in Salford, Manchester. Part of the wall was removed so that the public could witness the event. The morning of their execution was a cold and foggy one. Large crowds, marshalled by police and troops had assembled to witness the spectacle. Shortly after 8 O’Clock the men were led out and hanged, the bodies dropping out of sight into the pit below and out of sight of the onlookers.


    They were buried in quicklime in Strangeways Prison. Today they rest in a mass grave in Blackley Cemetery, Plot number C.2711. Manchester. Their noble stand in the dock and on the gallows inspired T. D. Sullivan to pen the famous ballad ‘God save Ireland’.


    When the news of their execution reached Ireland, solemn funeral processions were held, and three coffinless hearses proceeded to Glasnevin Cemetery, followed by 60,000 mourners. Allen was a native of Tipperary, O'Brien came from Ballymacoda, Co. Cork, and Larkin from Lusmagh, Co Offaly.

    It was widely felt amongst the Irish both at home and abroad that these men were wrongly hanged as it was not their intention to kill and nor had they. The brave and courageous stand they took in the Dock and upon the Gallows inspired Irish People around the World and helped to restore morale in the wake of the abortive Rising of 1867.

    Ironically the first prisoner to utter these immortal words was one O'Meagher Condon who had his death sentence commuted to Life Imprisonment while another man Thomas Maguire was released from captivity as the case against him was so poor even the English Media felt he should be set free.

    Numerous monuments were erected to the Martyrs in the wake of their deaths across Ireland incl. a symbolic grave to these brave men in Glasnevin Cemetery, Dublin.

    The famous song, which their sacrifice gave birth to, opens with the lines:

    High upon the gallows tree, swung the noble-hearted three,
    By the vengeful tyrant, stricken in their bloom.
    But they met him face to face with the courage of their race,
    And they went with souls undaunted to their doom.


    "God save Ireland," said the heroes.
    "God save Ireland," said them all.
    "Whether on the scaffold high, or the battlefield we die,
    No matter when, for Ireland dear we fall!"



     
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  2. #2
    Malcolm Redfellow Malcolm Redfellow is offline
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    Surely any account of the Manchester Martyrs should start — at the latest — with McCafferty's Fenian raid on Chester Castle. Even that has to be read in the context of how the authorities were on edge for a general uprising, fuelled by assassination threats, and public disorder. Through the summer of 1867 the terrorist campaign against gas works, railway stations and other public utilities poisoned the authoritarian mood all the more.

    Which brings us to 18th September 1867, when three dozen or so armed Fenians took on a dozen mounted police to release the prisoners. Sergeant Charles Brett did his job by refusing to open the lock of the Black Maria. He looked through the key-hole to see what was happening outside. That was when the fatal shot to break the lock was fired. Brett was killed instantly. There could be no quibble but it was murder.

    The two key American Fenians, Galwegian Thomas Kelly, and Corkman Timothy Deasy were "vanished", and twenty-six from the ambuscade were arrested. Quite why just five were arraigned for the murder is beyond me here. Again, in law (remember Derek Bentley), all present would be severally guilty — any lawyer would explain that's essential to avoid a "What me, guv?" serial knock-on defence.

    Of the five convicted, one was pardoned, and another was commuted. Leaving three to hang at Salford Gaol on 23rd November. Even then things could have been different.

    There were widespread demonstrations in English cities against the imminent executions. There was an impressive demonstration at Clerkenwell Green: signatures were gathered, a deputation went to the Home Office, and a petition for clemency sent to Queen Victoria.

    Any official relaxation was stymied by the arrest of Ricard O'Sullivan Burke and Joseph Casey on 20th November, the Wednesday before the executions. Burke was in the process of transferring weapons and explosives to Fenians in Birmingham, and charged with treason: Casey seems to have been his heavy who was charged with the lesser offence of assault on a constable.

    Just as Maxwell Fyfe was clobbered with the ordure for the Bentley business, so too the (Tory) Home Secretary at the time of the Manchester Martyrs — Gathorne Hardy. It may not be entirely irrelevant that the Tory Party was itself in a fluid state, with Disraeli (the populist who was promising a wider franchise) about to displace Derby.
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  3. #3
    Boy M5 Boy M5 is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm Redfellow View Post
    Surely any account of the Manchester Martyrs should start — at the latest — with McCafferty's Fenian raid on Chester Castle. Even that has to be read in the context of how the authorities were on edge for a general uprising, fuelled by assassination threats, and public disorder. Through the summer of 1867 the terrorist campaign against gas works, railway stations and other public utilities poisoned the authoritarian mood all the more.

    Which brings us to 18th September 1867, when three dozen or so armed Fenians took on a dozen mounted police to release the prisoners. Sergeant Charles Brett did his job by refusing to open the lock of the Black Maria. He looked through the key-hole to see what was happening outside. That was when the fatal shot to break the lock was fired. Brett was killed instantly. There could be no quibble but it was murder.

    The two key American Fenians, Galwegian Thomas Kelly, and Corkman Timothy Deasy were "vanished", and twenty-six from the ambuscade were arrested. Quite why just five were arraigned for the murder is beyond me here. Again, in law (remember Derek Bentley), all present would be severally guilty — any lawyer would explain that's essential to avoid a "What me, guv?" serial knock-on defence.

    Of the five convicted, one was pardoned, and another was commuted. Leaving three to hang at Salford Gaol on 23rd November. Even then things could have been different.

    There were widespread demonstrations in English cities against the imminent executions. There was an impressive demonstration at Clerkenwell Green: signatures were gathered, a deputation went to the Home Office, and a petition for clemency sent to Queen Victoria.

    Any official relaxation was stymied by the arrest of Ricard O'Sullivan Burke and Joseph Casey on 20th November, the Wednesday before the executions. Burke was in the process of transferring weapons and explosives to Fenians in Birmingham, and charged with treason: Casey seems to have been his heavy who was charged with the lesser offence of assault on a constable.

    Just as Maxwell Fyfe was clobbered with the ordure for the Bentley business, so too the (Tory) Home Secretary at the time of the Manchester Martyrs — Gathorne Hardy. It may not be entirely irrelevant that the Tory Party was itself in a fluid state, with Disraeli (the populist who was promising a wider franchise) about to displace Derby.

    Wasn't Clerkenwell where they did a jail break from?
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  4. #4
    Catalpast Catalpast is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Malcolm Redfellow View Post
    Surely any account of the Manchester Martyrs should start — at the latest — with McCafferty's Fenian raid on Chester Castle. Even that has to be read in the context of how the authorities were on edge for a general uprising, fuelled by assassination threats, and public disorder. Through the summer of 1867 the terrorist campaign against gas works, railway stations and other public utilities poisoned the authoritarian mood all the more.

    Which brings us to 18th September 1867, when three dozen or so armed Fenians took on a dozen mounted police to release the prisoners. Sergeant Charles Brett did his job by refusing to open the lock of the Black Maria. He looked through the key-hole to see what was happening outside. That was when the fatal shot to break the lock was fired. Brett was killed instantly. There could be no quibble but it was murder.

    The two key American Fenians, Galwegian Thomas Kelly, and Corkman Timothy Deasy were "vanished", and twenty-six from the ambuscade were arrested. Quite why just five were arraigned for the murder is beyond me here. Again, in law (remember Derek Bentley), all present would be severally guilty — any lawyer would explain that's essential to avoid a "What me, guv?" serial knock-on defence.

    Of the five convicted, one was pardoned, and another was commuted. Leaving three to hang at Salford Gaol on 23rd November. Even then things could have been different.

    There were widespread demonstrations in English cities against the imminent executions. There was an impressive demonstration at Clerkenwell Green: signatures were gathered, a deputation went to the Home Office, and a petition for clemency sent to Queen Victoria.

    Any official relaxation was stymied by the arrest of Ricard O'Sullivan Burke and Joseph Casey on 20th November, the Wednesday before the executions. Burke was in the process of transferring weapons and explosives to Fenians in Birmingham, and charged with treason: Casey seems to have been his heavy who was charged with the lesser offence of assault on a constable.

    Just as Maxwell Fyfe was clobbered with the ordure for the Bentley business, so too the (Tory) Home Secretary at the time of the Manchester Martyrs — Gathorne Hardy. It may not be entirely irrelevant that the Tory Party was itself in a fluid state, with Disraeli (the populist who was promising a wider franchise) about to displace Derby.
    There could be no quibble but it was murder

    There was quibble indeed!

    It was clearly manslaughter

    - these men wrongfully hanged in the opinion of just about every person in Ireland and Britain who was an Irish Nationalist
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  5. #5
    Malcolm Redfellow Malcolm Redfellow is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Boy M5 View Post
    Wasn't Clerkenwell where they did a jail break from?
    Indeed, but that comes next, and post-dates the Manchester executions.

    Ricard O'Sullivan Burke (see my previous) was detained at the Middlesex House of Detention (it's now the site of the Hugh Myddleton Primary School).

    The Fenian plan was to use explosives to breach the exercise yard wall: their first effort was a no-go, but a barrel of gunpowder in a street-trader's barrow (Friday 13th December 1867, better believe it) did the business in Vistavision and Technicolor. "Official" intelligence being better than than of the Fenians, although the yard wall was demolished, the prison was on "lock-down". The explosion took out a row of tenements across the street, killing a round dozen and injuring perhaps into three figures.



    Eight were charged, two of whom grassed on the rest: five ended up in the dock at the Old Bailey. The prime mover was identified as Michael Barrett from Kesh in the County Fermanagh.

    The bould Michael claimed he was in Scotland for the weekend of the explosion, but was again on the receiving end of a touting-out. He got the murder verdict, and went on to be distinguished as the last ever public execution, three days before the Amendment Act ended the grisly business.

    Methinks An Phoblacht protests a bit too much: to exculpate Barrett requires a thorough-going blackening of Patrick Mullany (which, actually, is none too difficult). Barrett was done on contradictory identification evidence, which might not be wholly convincing in a 21st century courtroom — but he had form, was a committed Fenian, and was in London to get away from a previous charge involving a shooter in Glasgow.
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  6. #6
    Eire1976 Eire1976 is offline
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    Another horrible miscarriage of justice by the Empires authorities.

    Sad that the fenians were sold out at every turn, they had such promise
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  7. #7
    odie1kanobe odie1kanobe is offline

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    Have been at the site where the actual ambush took place in Manchester and there is a commemoration there to these events.

    It is on the footpath beside railway line on way into Manchester.
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  8. #8
    Malcolm Redfellow Malcolm Redfellow is offline
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    Quote Originally Posted by Catalpast View Post
    There could be no quibble but it was murder

    There was quibble indeed!

    It was clearly manslaughter

    - these men wrongfully hanged in the opinion of just about every person in Ireland and Britain who was an Irish Nationalist
    Err, no.

    The discharge of a gun, involving a death, in the process of a gang-raid is murder. To get a manslaughter verdict would involve a total disregard for the intent, method and circumstances. It would come down to a debate on mens rea, i.e. "malice aforethought". Taking a loaded gun to a planned ambush, and wilfully discharging it, suggest several levels of afore-thought.

    Nor am I convinced by your appeal to the "court of public opinion" — that's selling out to the ill-informed and self-interested partiality and bias of the media manipulators, in 1867-68 or now. If that's your bottom line, a daily pint of Murdoch is yer only man.

    I do hope, at some point in this exchange, we arrive at what Karl Marx wrote at this time. Yes: he was severe on the treatment of Irish prisoners. He was equally clear-sighted that the Fenians, and their outrages such as that which destroyed Corporation Row in Finsbury, were doing the PR work of the authorities:
    The London masses, who have shown great sympathy towards Ireland, will be made wild and driven into the arms of a reactionary government. One cannot expect the London proletarians to allow themselves to be blown up in honour of Fenian emissaries.
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