During the Irish Civil War, eighty-three prisoners were executed after trial by military court. The Irish Civil War: Law, Execution and Atrocity explores the pressures that drove the provisional government to try prisoners for arms offences by military courts, and how, at a time of great crisis, the rule of law evaporated and the new policy morphed into reprisal executions.
More than 125 further prisoners were killed in the custody of the state: kidnapped and shot; tied to landmines and blown up; shot after surrender, ‘trying to escape’ or even killed under interrogation. These men were killed because they were anti-treaty fighters or because they were suspected of involvement or sympathy with the anti-treaty cause. In the heat of civil war, the inquest system became part of the battle ground where the emerging state connived at the suppression of evidence and turned a blind eye to perjury and cover-up.
At the end of the Civil War, there were 3,000 dead, over 10,000 wounded, 13,000 interned, and many more forced into migration. And in this period of great crisis, the bedrock of law itself had been shattered. This dark, secret corner of Irish history, whose bitter legacy affects society to this day, is uncompromisingly exposed in The Irish Civil War: Law, Execution and Atrocity.
Table of Contents
1. A Failed State?
2. Shooting Prisoners
3. Military Courts
4. Fisher, Twohig, Gaffney, Cassidy
6. Spooner, Farrelly, Murphy and Mallin
7. Mellowes, O’Connor, Barrett and McKelvey
8. Trial by Army Committee
Selected Trials December 1922
9. The Rathbride Column
10. The Leixlip Column
11. Phelan and Murphy
12. January 1923 Overview
Selected trials from January 1923
13. James Lillis
14. Frederick Burke, Martin O’Shea, Patrick Russell, Patrick MacNamara (Roscrea)
15. The Kerry prisoners
16. Con McMahon, Patrick Hennessey and Sean Darcy
17. February 1923 Overview
18. The Murder of Kevin O’Higgin’s Father and the Trial of the Suspect
19. Thomas Gibson
20. March 1923 Overview: The Kerry Massacres
21. Charles Daly, Dan Enright, Tim O’Sullivan and Sean Larkin (Drumboe Castle, Donegal)
22. The Ballyseede Cover-Up
23. Overview, April 1923
24. The Massacre at Clashmealcon
25. Ennis – The Last Execution – An Innocent Prisoner
26. The Bitter End
About the Author
Seán Enright was called to the Bar at Middle Temple in 1982 and at the Four Courts in 1993. He practised at the Bar in London for many years and is now a Circuit Judge. He is the author of The Trial of Civilians by Military Courts: Ireland 1921 (2012), Easter Rising 1916: The Trials (2014), and After the Rising: Soldiers, Lawyers and Trials of the Irish Revolution (2016).