Murder before breakfast

Published in Issue 1 (January/February 2014), Volume 22

In his most shocking claim, David ‘Hibernicus’ Byrne relates how Rochfort was sitting in his hostess’s dressing gown one morning, having his hair powdered by a barber, when he was informed that a new prisoner had just been brought into the village. According to Byrne, ‘so blood thirsty was he that on hearing that a prisoner had arrived, he started up, leaving his toilet unfinished, took a pistol, went to the guard-house, and shot the man’. This account provides us with the ultimate and supremely pathetic image of Robert Rochfort in the events of 1798: that of a hysterical clergyman in woman’s clothing, racing to murder a prisoner without trial, before breakfast, and returning home to have his hair done.

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