Myles Joyce has hanged for the Maamtrasna murders in 1882, even though two other convicted men had insisted he was innocent.
A man has been pardoned for a crime he did not commit – nearly 140 years after he was hanged.
Myles Joyce was executed in December 1882, along with two other men, for his part in the murder of five members of the same family, despite his co-accused insisting he was innocent. He has now been granted a posthumous pardon by Irish President Michael D Higgins, the first for a case predating the foundation of the Irish state. Mr․ Higgins described it as a “shameful episode in Ireland and Britain’s history” and said the pardon would “correct the historical record”. Named after the remote Galway community in which they took place, the brutal Maamtrasna murders shook Ireland. In August 1882, a family was attacked in their home. By the end of the assaults, five of the six family members were dead – with the youngest victim aged 14 and the eldest 80.
Mr․ Joyce, whose Irish name was MaolraSeoighe, was related to some of the family members, but there were always doubts about his guilt and the way he was convicted. Apart from the statements from the guilty men that he played no part in the killings, Joyce’s trial was held in English, a language the Gaelic speaker did not understand. There were also questions about the reliability of alleged eyewitnesses, who were later paid off at the insistence of the then lord lieutenant of Ireland, but it was not enough to save Mr Joyce from the gallows. In 2015 a report into the case was commissioned by the Irish Government which concluded that he had been wrongly convicted.