July 10

Published in On this Day listing

  • 1927 Kevin O’Higgins (35), vice-president of the executive council and minister for justice, was assassinated as he made his way to Mass in Booterstown, Co. Dublin.
  • 1992 Albert Pierrepoint (87), hangman, died.During much of the last century Pierrepoint was a household name on these islands. In fact, there were three Pierrepoints. First there was Henry Pierrepoint, who dispatched over 100 souls between 1901 and 1910 before being sacked for drunkenness. Then came his brother, Tom, followed by Albert, Henry’s son, who assisted his uncle from 1932 and succeeded him in 1946. Tom Pierrepoint did the business for the Irish Free State—on a fee-per-hanging basis—26 times from the 1920s to the 1940s.His expenses claim, written in spidery black ink, for the rare double execution of Annie Walsh (31)—the only woman ever hanged by the Irish state—and her nephew Michael Talbot (24) for the murder of Annie’s husband, Edward Walsh (61), in August 1925, recently came up for auction.Waiving his standard fee of £10 per hanging, he charged not £20 but, in a ‘buy one, get the second half-price’ fashion, a mere £15. As for travel expenses from his home in Bradford, pre-War English class rules were strictly observed.Tom travelled first class ‘by rail and saloon’, while his assistant was holed up in third class.And there were no fancy hotel bills. Both men stayed overnight in Mountjoy Jail and claimed ‘10 shillings’ apiece for ‘refreshments’ of the non-alcoholic variety. All of which, no doubt, would have come as a relief to the cash-strapped Department of Finance. Over a 24-year career Albert dispatched well over 400 men and women, including the last four hangings carried out in the state, the last being that of Limerickman Michael Manning (25) in 1954.
  • 1917 Éamon de Valera (Sinn Féin) defeated Patrick Lynch KC in the East Clare by-election.
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