Monday, October 11, 2010

Halloween Special: The Execution Of Thomas Keely 1902 by Ronan Killeen.

North Gate Street facing from the Hop Inn Bar

A Chapter from my (Hons) thesis Three Cases of Capital Punishment in Galway 1881-1923

‘To suppose the Jury would let the prisoner go would be to establish upon your country a stain which centuries would not remove. What would become of helpless women and children of this county? They would have to shut there doors, uncertain to the projection of there neighbour, and might be found brutally murdered some morning’ – Tuam News 1902 on Thomas Keely’s trial.

On the 18 Novemeber 1901 Mary Clasby North Gate Street, Athenry who a lodging house keeper was murdered by Thomas Keely. Many witness at Keely’s trial new him well and he had been caught out by just knowing to many people in the locality of Athenry.
   Thomas Keely was arraigned before Mr. Justice Kenny, for the wilful murder of the old woman Mary Clasby. The case exited great interest and the court was exited with great interest. Thomas Keely was a deformed man and lame. He listened to the proceedings apparently quite unconcerned.
Mr.James H. Campbell, K.C. Solicitor General; Mr. Fethersto K.C., Mr. Coll, B.L., (instructed by Mr.James W. Blake, appeared for the crown. Mr.Conroy, solicitor, instructed Mr.Durcell, B.L, council for the prisoner, who pleaded not guilty.
    A jury was empanelled to try Keely. There was a god deal of challenging on on both sides. Messrs. Thomas Donnellan (Foreman), Martin Coen, James Killalea, MI. Brady, Pk. Kelly, Owen Lennane, Pk. Fahey, Laurence Kearns and Martin Action.

The solicitor-general in opening the case said the prisoner, who was stated to be a painter, had come to Athenry and took lodgings at the house of the murdered woman, Mary Clasby. The prisoner was seen in Athenry, he had spoken to a cattle dealer named Mr.Murphy, told him he was a painter, that he was hard up and that he had nothing about him but a painters hammer.
   Keely told Murphy that he wanted some money for lodging. Murphy gave him twopence and told him it would be better if he lodged at a house named O’Dea’s but later on Murphy saw Keely leaning over a half-door at Mary Clasby’s house, the woman that had been murdered. When the prisoner saw the witness he drew back and went into Mary’s house.

On the morning of the murder was discovered, a boy from the country, who came to sell turf, was passing by the house of the deceased when he heard a voice calling him. He went over to the house and saw a hand and arm stretched out from the door which, which was partly closed, and a voice from inside the door told him to go for two candles.
   The boy took two pence from the hand and went to purchase the candles and coming up again to the door put them into the hand, which then the hand drew in and closed the door. The boy afterwards heard the prisoner speaking at the police barracks, and he recognised that as the voice of the person who asked him to go for the candles.
  Several townspeople saw Keely both before and on the morning of the murder was discovered, a relation was discovered. A woman named Mary Size, who used to supply milk to the deceased, and was told by the prisoner (Keely) who was sitting beside the fire, that Mary had a sore leg, was laid up and could not been seen til that night.
   Mary Size attempted to then attempt to open the bedroom door, but when she had her hand on the latch the prisoner pulled her away and would not allow her to open the door. After this incident he was scene over the half-door looking up and down the street.
   A girl named Ms.Spelman came into the murder house, calling for Mary Clasby but got no reply what so ever. She looked through the opening in the bedroom door which was ajar, and saw the hand of the murdered woman on the floor. Recognising something dreadful had happened , she went to inform the police, who proceeded to the place, and found the women lying dead on the floor, her skull battered in with a painter’s hammer, covered with blood lying beside her.
  Some days after the prisoner was in Tuam, a considerable sum of money had been found in Keely’s possession along with brooches, rings, rosary beads and other small things, all of which would be identified as having belonged to the murdered woman. Council that concluded said the evidence would bring home to the prisoner the guilt of one of the most cowardly murders ever committed.

The first witness examined was Patrick Murphy, cattle jobber, of Athenry, who gave evidence that the prisoner came to his house about five weeks ago, before the murder and asked for some bread and milk and butter, which Murphy gave the prisoner. Keely told Murphy that he was a a painter, and had nothing with him but a painter’s hammer. Keely also told him that he was born in America and that his mother brought him to castlegrove. Keely said to Murphy that he had only two pence to pay for his lodgings and Murphy kindly gave him three pence.

The prisoner had told Murphy that he would stop at Mary Clasby’s for the night but Murphy told the prisoner to go to Roger O’Dea’s house and sent his son to show the prisoner were the house was.
   About a week ago I saw Murphy saw the prisoner leaning over the half door. When Keely saw him he ran back inside, Murphy did not see him until he saw him in the barracks on 19th November 1901. The next witness to make a statement at the assize was a man by the name of John Cleary, a school boy that deposed that he saw Keely standing at Mrs.Clasby’s door on the 4th November 1901 and he sent the boy for two loaves, for which the boy received a half-pence and one for himself, which he refused to take.
   The witness cleary got the bread at Mrs. Nolan’s and brought it to Keely who thanked him for it. Mr. R. P. Nolan, D. C., and shopkeeper in Athenry, deposed to having seen Keely on the Saturday night the week before the murder. Keely had been in the shop and asked for a copper, and said he was weary and wanted to pay for his lodgings, that he was a painter and was long time idle, that he was born in Boston and that his father was from Tuam.

Nolan gave Keely some supplies, and he also told him if Keely came back the next day he would give Keely a dinner but Keely did not return to Nolan but met him as he was going to the vesper’s that next evening at 7 O’Clock on the 10th November 1901. Keely begged a copper and Nolan knew the voice. Nolan asked him was he a painter who was with him the evening before hand and why did he not come to dinner?.
   Keely told Nolan that he was too tired but Nolan then told him to come to his house the next day so he could find Keely some work to do. Keely came up to Nolan’s residence the following night, and told him that he was stopping at Miss Connell’s, Nolan gave him alms and never saw him until the 27 November 1901.
   Christopher Daly, a draper in Athenry, assured that he saw Keely three weeks to the murder and also on the evening of the 14th November. 1901. Joseph Fallon, of Athenry, deposed to seeing the prisoner in the porch of the chapel, when services were going on. 17 November at 7 o'clock in the eveing. George Higgins of Athenry saw the prisoner on the evening of the 17 November and also on the 15 November near the chapel.
    The next witness was Michael Jordan, a shoemaker by trade, and lived with his father deposed that while standing at his own door on the Monday before previous of the murder, he saw Keely looking up and down the street. Later he saw the beggars begging up and down, and then after another while he saw Keely at the barracks between two men.

He saw the front and side of his face, saw him in different clothes and could not say if it was the same thing that the prisoner wore on Monday. Mary Smyth deposed to having seen Mrs.Clasby used to get milk from Mr. Glynn alive on Sunday, 17th November 1901.Mary Size stated that she lived in Athenry, and worked for Mr. John Glynn; knew the deceased for years. Mrs. Clasby used to get milk from Mr. Glynn. The deceased sometimes would send for it. The Witness used to visit her on and off for 15 years. No person ever had lived with the deceased except the lodgers.
    The deceased Mrs.Claby had been in America for a long time in her life. She wore a ring that was similar to that produced on the third finger of her left hand. She sent for no milk on the Sunday the week before hand. On the following Monday morning the witness went to see her at 10 a.m. and when the witness went into the kitchen she saw the prisoner sitting on the stool near the fire with his back towards the wall.

After Mary Size sat down, the prisoner offered her a smoke of the clay pipe and the Mary Size refused it. She explained to the court of asking the prisoner for Mrs. Clasby, the way that the prisoner through her out of the lodging house and that Assize would come back to see her after dinner. Ms. Size said she had not seen Keely since the 20 November 1901 and at the line up picked him out because she knew the voice.
   Richard Burns gave evidence that he lived with his parents near Newcastle and came into Athenry on the previous Monday 18 November 1901, with an ass load of turf; after selling which he turned and went by the post office and near the place of Mrs.Higgins. It was around 10:10am when Burns was passing by Northgate street, when he heard Keely’s voice and Keely gave him two pence to get two candles from Blackall’s, and saw a hand and part of an arm put out through the door which was partly ajar. Burns did so and brought the candles back to the house and put the candles into the prisoner’s-Keelys hand, which was took inside and Burns walked away from the house.
   At the Athenry Police barracks on 20 November 1901, Burns saw the right hands of three people put through a door, one after the other, in the same position he had referred, and heard those three men speak.
One of the hands was a slight resemblance on the day Burns had gone for the candles at Blackhall’s, the candles were the kind and size that Burns had bought for the man that day and the coat sleeve very like it. One of the voices of the men was exactly similar to that of the man he had ran the errand for.

Delia Spelman was the next to depose; she occasionally visited Mrs. Clasby and did so on the 18 November. When she had come to the house that day, she the door was wide open. She entered into the kitchen and found that no one was there. She called out for Mrs. Clasby, but got no reply, she opened Mrs.Clasby’s bedroom door. When she saw a hand on the floor she got alarmed and immediately fled. She saw Constable Noonan and told him and told him that there was something wrong with Mary Clasby.
   Constable Noonan verified that he met Ms. Spelman at 12 o’clock on the day of the discovery of Mrs. Claby’s body. He reached the house at 12:10pm, and found Mrs. Clasby’s body laying dead on the floor. Mrs. Clasby’s knees were bent and her head resting against the foot of the bedpost. There were two candles lighting about a yard from her feet . Noonan returned to the barracks and reported the matter to the district inspector, who returned with him to the house. Noonan then made a search, and found two candles that were lighting and a hammer, now produced, and on one side of the hammer had blood on it and was a yard away from the deceased’s feet. Other items Constable Noonan found were a deposit receipt of £2 and the other contained a rent receipt, a religious emblem, two boxes in the room that contained clothes, one of the constables found.

Bridget Lardner assured the court that she had seen the prisoner walk in the direction of the deceased house on 18 November and 10 days previously before hand. Michael Moran confirmed that he was employed at as boots at the Railway Hotel, that he had seen the prisoner in the dock walking in front of him, on the Tuam road, the prisoner had walked close to a wall and on the grass, near a pool of water, about 20 yards from the hotel. It was between a quarter and 20 past 11 o’clock am, when he saw the witness begging and wanting work which he did not get on the 18 November.
   Robert Lannon the next witness of the murder case stated that he was a coachman to Mrs.Lopdell, of Raheen, and remembered 18 November 1901, that he was riding in the direction of Athenry, and at 11:30am met the prisoner opposite the cricket pavilion outside of Athenry, about 200 yards from the Railway Hotel. He saw the prisoner slowly walking up the hill in the direction of Tuam.
   M. Cusack who was a stable boy, in the employment of Mrs. Lambert of Castle Ellen, deposed that he was driving a van in the direction of Athenry. When coming out of the wood, the Caste Ellen side of Gurran Cross, he (Cusack) had met the prisoner about 100 yards. Patrick Lynch, a groom, who lived at Belville, Athenry, said that he had met the prisoner coming from Athenry and the prisoner was walking very fast. Cusack asked for a match from him but the prisoner refused in a very serious tone. Once the prisoner had passed Cusack turned around and looked at the prisoner wiping his boots on the grass. It was 20 past 12 when Patrick Lynch was a quarter of a mile in front of me.

M. Donohue was positive that he saw the prisoner on the 18 November at the Cussane cross roads. Donoghue was 100 yards from the man he saw. The man was lame and had a hump on him. Mark Bird and Mary Molloy both gave evidence that they saw the prisoner that he was walking fast and was lame with a hump too. The prisoner had asked Ms. Molloy were the road to Tuam road and she showed him and the prisoner carried on walking.
   John Gormley the next witness said that he was a farmer near Tierboy Road, Tuam. About half past 7 o’clock on November 18 he saw the prisoner, in Patrick Browne’s public house standing at the bar.    

Gormley knew the prisoner before the prisoner when the prisoner was a wardsman in the Tuam Union. The prisoner handed sixpence , remarking that Gormley stood to Prisoner before. Gormely said that he would not take it. The prisoner then called for a drink , and Gormely called out for 2 bottles of stout, which the two men drank and paid for with the sixpence.
The prisoner then bought two pipes, one at 6d and the other at 9d, and Gormley got took the 6d pipe, and the prisoner kept the 9d one. The prisoner also purchased tobacco. Gormely saw the prisoner take a bead case out of his pocket and then 10 sovereign’s. The prisoner gave Mr. Browne a half-sovereign out of the amount he had. The prisoner told Gormley to come into the room of the bar and that he wanted to talk to him. After the two men went into the room, the prisoner handed Gormley a bunch of notes, which he asked him to count for him. There were 11 pound notes in it, and the prisoner remarked that he earned this money since last in Tuam. To the best of the Gormley’s memory, it was early in September when prisoner left Tuam. The prisoner asked Gormley to realise a suit of clothes which he had in Mr. Quinn’s Pawn Office. Both of them went there. The convict gave a sovereign and got change. They both went to Burke’s public house next door and had also treated two other men to drinks. After leaving Burke’s public house the witness said to Keely that he was going to go home soon and welcomed the prisoner to his lodgings and also recommended two other places Mr. Heavey’s or Ms. Moores. Keely told Gormley he would rather stay at his residence, Gormley said that he had no lodging house but if the servant boy was willing to share the room, Gormley would have no objection to Keely’s stay.

The prisoner gave Gormley half a crown to send him for a naggin of whiskey and a gallon of porter. The drink was later consumed by the prisoner, Gormley, William O’Connor and another person. The prisoner eventually slept that nigh in the kitchen and was up before Gormley at 8 o’clock in the morning and offered him, which the witness refused. The prisoner said he would come with the witnesses to wherever and had been complaining with his heel being sore.

Keely said that he had walked from Loughrea the day before. The prisoner paid for another drink at Keely’s public house. The two men went Browne’s and he brought a razor for 2s 6d, the same as now produced. Once again, the prisoner paid for another drink at Browne’s. Next the prisoner wrote on the inside of a match box 1 pair of drawers, 1 inside shirt two pairs of socks and a necktie and gave 5s to Gormely to by the clothing for him. Gormley purchased these items at Matrtin S. Walsh’s shortley afterwards and returned home. Keely then arrived at Gormley’s house around 2 o’clock.

A man named Tom McGovern came back with Gormley and McGovern began to speak to Gormley when Keely was with them about the murder that happened in Athenry. The witness had seen Keely become stunned at that point. The witness told Keely not to leave the house until he had dinner. The witness did so and remained in the house and soon after that the witness did not see Keely until 27 November 1901. Gormley reported Keely’s stay in his house to the police.

Andrew Quinn the next man up to give evidence of identify Keely. McGovern stated that he went into the house of Gormley and saw the prisoner there; took a chair and sat down, lit his pipe and spoke to Mrs .Donohue. Quinn spoke loud and clear so everyone could here what he was saying ‘Is this not a great deed that has happened in Athenry. A woman killed in Athenry and half the head cut off her with a hatchet.” When Keely heard this he panicked and the police were soon sent for.

Sergeant Thomas Sheehy deposed that in consequence of information which he received on 19 November 1901, he went entered Gormley’s house and saw the prisoner sitting there. Sgt. Sheehy asked the prisoner to stand up so he could talk to him. ‘I am going to ask you questions regarding the Athenry Murder’ said Sgt.Sheehy to Keely and he read him his rights.

Sgt. Sheehy asked the prionsoner about all the places he had been. Keely told him that he came to Tuam 2 days ago, that he was from Loughrea and had left the district a couple of days ago on a Sunday. Keely had come to Tuam by Sunday night. Sgt. Sheehy integrated Keely more which made the prisoner become more and more slow at answering the questions. Keely also informed to the Sergeant that he he had slept on the side of the road at Gort. That he came from Gort. Other places the prisoner had mentioned was that he walked to Galway to Oranmore and then to Loughrea. Sgt. Sheehy asked the Prisoner was he in Athenry at all? To which the prisoner replied ‘No, I wasn’t’.

Sgt. Sheehy arrested Keely on charge of the murder of Mary Clasby. The prisoner made no statement. The Sergeant then searched the prisoner who then gave him 3s 3d and told the Sergeant that was all he had but there was a gold ring in the purse. There was no more money in it. The evidence was then produced by Sgt. Sheehy. Sgt. Sheehy and Constable Moriarty searched Keely’s pockets and found money worth £19 4s. All the sovereigns had been in a rosary bead case and they had found other items, the money had been wrapped in brown tissue roll.

Sgt. Sheehy found cut marks on the prisoner’s shins, as if it had been caused by kicks and the prisoner told the sergeant that he had scratched them. Constable Ruddy deposed to having brought the prisoner from Tuam to Athenry and accompanied D.I. Feeley to Mrs. Clasby’s house on 21 November. In the bedroom of the kitchen, the constables found 3 boxes of clothing with a petticoat and bodice with blood stains on the clothing. The constables also found items similar to what the prisoner had been carring. The items were then sent to Dr.Lapper of the Royal College of Surgeon’s, Dublin.

D.I. Feeley assured a report which he had received of Constable Noonan, he proceeded to the house of Mrs. Clasby and found her lying dead. D.I. Feely recollected the information of what Burns had given. The hammer that was handed to D.I. Feeley was covered in blood.

The next witness up was a woman by the name Honour Hansberry who identified the exhibition of evidence. The ring in the display was Mary Clasby’s ring. Mary Regan identified that the ring had been found on the prisoner. Thomas Higgins, National School Teacher of Athenry, appointed that Mrs. Clasby consulted him about some money. The deceased received £81 18s from America on the 18 February 1901. Mr. James Corry, Manager of the Ulster Bank, deposed that the deceased had £155 in deposit receipts. Michael Barrett gave evidence that the hammer found was such as a painter would use in his profession.

Dr. Edwin disclosed his evidence , occupation and the items that had been sent to him ‘Witness found mammalian blood on almost every part of the head and smears of blood on almost the entire length of the handle of the painter’s hammer, no marks on the neck tie, shirt etc. There was blood on the lower border of the white petticoat and inside same; on a white pink shirt 2 bloods stains; on a white bodice stained in 3 places on t he back and three places and one bloodstain on the right sleeve.’

Dr.Lapper continued ‘1 was an apron, with 1 blood stain, and the other, small piece, had 5 blood stains on it; also a piece of newspaper with 4 stains. Next thing examined was 6 pieces of tissue paper, with one blood stain; also some paper wrapped round a candle. The blood stains were mammalion and tolerably recent.
   P.J. Quinlan Esq., MD next gave evidence; he remembered on the 18 Novemeber and told the court that when he did a post-mortem on her, she was died 10 ir 12 hours earlier. He was not sure. Quinlan discovered that there was 5 large wounds pentrating from the skin to the bone ‘when taking of the scalp there was a depressed fracture of the left parietal bone and another fracture fo the left parietal bone and another fracture excluding fro mthat through the temperal bone behind the left ear to the base of the skull’. The death had been caused by graze of the brain from fracture and also from rapid blood and shock.

After all thes statements, Mr. Price B.L. addressed the jury for the prisoner. He focused on the awfulness of committing a judicial murder: informed the Jury that if there was ever a case more mysterious than this one, it must be perplexing and sait it was the ‘duty of the jury to stand between the avenging hand of the Crown and the prisoner, whose mouth was sealed by an undeliable seal, and who must depend on them for whatever mercy he was likely to get.’
   The Tuam News played the victim card to there readers at this point ‘To suppose the Jury would let the prisoner go would be to establish upon your country a stain which centuries would not remove. What would become of helpless women and children of this county. They would have to shut there doors, uncertain to the projection of there neighbour, and might be found brutly murdered some morning’.
   The Solicitor-General then dealt with the evidence seriatim, and spoke for an hour and three quarters. The Judge then adjourned the Court till Tuesday and on that following Tuesday the court sat at 10 o’clock sharp.
Judge Keeny immediately went into the entire evidence of the case which had been given by 34 witnesses. Justice Kenny said that the prisoner ‘seemed to be a man not inclined to do his own work so long as he could get others to do it for him, and was offered employment and would not go to get it. Don’t let any feeling influence you that although this man committed the crime’.

The prisoner was perfectly sane and that could be proved. If there was any suggestions of prisoner’s antecedants being mad, the executive would take it into account, even if the prisoner was sentenced to death.
   The prisoner was perfectly sane at the and that it could be proved. The prisoner had been represented by one of the worthy councils, anywhere to be found, and they did not say that he was insane. If there was any such suggestion’s of the prisoner of having a mental illness the executive would take it into account.
   The judge knew that the Lord Liuetenant spares no pains to carefully sift everything, and t lord Luietenant will see that ‘No person goes to his Maker who could for one moment have been held to be responsible for the crime for which he had been sentenced’.

The Tuam News wrote ‘The conduct of the prisoner in lighting the candles at the feet of his victim was peculair, but no murder was a like, pecularities don’t make a man mad. The law expects that you willl do your duty, as you have sworn to do by the Evangelists, and that you will not regret your conduct hereafter, what ever your verdict be’. The jury retired for half and hour during the case and returned with a verdict.
‘The Clerk-Mr.Carter asked them if they had the Jury had they considered there verdict. Foreman—We have.

Clerk—Do you find the prisoner guilty or not guilty?

Foreman—We find the prisoner, Thomas Keely, “guilty,” and we recommended him to mercy.

At this deep groan of horror went up from assembled spectators.

Clerk —Prisoner at the bar, you hear the verdict of 12 of your fellow-countrymen!

Have you anything to say while the sentence of death should not be passed upon you?

The prisoner made no awnser.

His lordship “put on the black cap,” and said: Thomas Keeley, you have heard the verdict of the jury and your own fellow country-men which has been come to after a patient and exhaustive trial You are found guilty of the murder of this poor woman of Athenry. The crime was a brutal on, and you hurried this unfortunate victim before her God without a momnent’s notice.
   The law is more merciful to you and you will get time to repent of your crime, and I hope you make the best possible use of that time which is now left you to reconcile your soul to your maker, and make your peace with God. I must say that I thoroughly agree with the jury in their verdict, which was a proper one; and I may say in my opinion they could conscientiously and as reason able thinking men have arrived at no toehr verdict than they did.

The sentence of this court is that you, Thomas Keely, be taken from the place where you now are to the place from whence you cane and thence to the place of execution. Where you will be hanged by the neck until you are dead on the 23rd day of April 1902. May the lord of have mercy on your soul.’ Keely was removed from the court.
   It was on a Wednsday the Keely was execute for the murder of Mrs. Mary Clasby. Mr. J.C. Conroy, soir., had visited his client There was a petiton forwarded, and it was expected the prayer would be acceded too, but a few days ago the Lord Lueitenat replied that the law must ttake its course.
   This was communicated to Keely, who was terrified of it. After the trial Keely collapsed, and was conveyed to hospita, where he remained till a few days ago, when he was again conveyed to the condemned cell and was never out of site of two warders.The condemened man at first refused to eat, and it was thought that he would starve to death. A consultation was held by two doctors. The prisoner began to eat and drink once he heard there was hope for a reprieve in his case unti the day the government refused to grant a reprieve.

The Government refused Keely’s reprieve which made Keely lose all up and he finally stopped eating. 2 weeks had gone by after Keely was sentenced and an operation was done on the prisoner. They surgeons had to remove a tumour from his back bone. The tumour would have killed the prisoner before the 23rd. The operation was performed successfully, but the prisoner would not live long a week longer than the 23rd, and for the that last week was in a dying condition.
   Before Keely’s death Rev Fr. Greaven P.P. and the Rev. Father Considine, C.C.’s were most attentive to the prisoner. The prisoner was a Roman Catholic born in Boston. Even the nuns from the Order of Mercy where with the prisoner every hour. Prayers were asked publicly for his soul and befored the day of execution he was constantly either praying or crying at times.
   The Sunday before hand the Lord Bishop of Galway Most. Rev. Dr. McCormack accompained by the two chaplins, visited the condemned man. The prisoner soon attended his own mass at 7.30 a.m. The Governer, two warders, two reverend fathers were present. ‘The prisoner was now conveyed to his cell and partook of a little refreshment, and was exhorted to prepare for death. He seemed unconsious and it was thought he was dead several times.’ Keely was possibly dying.The prisoner did not have a great sleep the night before at all which was full of ‘fitful of starts, and woke muthering and crying and laid down again growning.
   During Keely’s time in prison he confessed several times of killing Mary Clasby and agreed that it was right to condemn him but he also said that there was false swearing against him that it was a hatchet he used and not a painter’s hammer to kill her.

According to the Galway Express Mrs.Clasby was sometimes known as Ms.O’Connell because her mother had been married twice. The Galway Express said there had been flaws in the case ‘If there was any doubt of the prisoner’s guilt, they as jurymen were to give the prisoner the benefit of the doubt.
   The executioners to carry out Keely’s sentence were the Billington brothers. They had stayed the night before in the prison. While Keely was unconsious the Billingtons strapped the prisoner. The next day when the prisoner was on the scaffold where he was to be hung-he fainted a couple of times.
   The prisoner’s feet was strapped by Billington. The prisoner had recluntantly gone to his place of execution. The prisoner groaned, moaned and cried out aloud but the chaplains calmed him down. The rope was placed around his neck one of the chaplins was reciting the burial service “ In the midst of life we are in death”. Bellington pulled the bolt and Keely was ‘swung into eternity with an awful thud’.

Straight after this Fr.Considine ‘grew as white as a sheet and everyone present’ bar the Billington Brothers seemed to be terrified. The body hung for an hour.
  The black flag was raised. The Tuam News stated that ‘There was about 4000 people present outside the prison who had been expecting to hear the crack of the bolt. A shout of horror went up from the assembled mulitiude, who now knew of the awfulness that had taken place.’
  The Billington Brothers were late for the train late for the 10 o’clock train on that Wednsday and were followed about by crowds. The brothers left Galway on the 3 o’clock train and the station was throughed. No reporter was allowed insided and the newpapers wondered, why?


The Galway Express wrote that ‘there was some unprobabilities in the case. One improbability in the Crown case was that the murder tollk place at 6 in the morning, and that Mary Clasby was already out of bed, had her bed made up, was dressed all but, strange to say one boot, and at prayers when she was supposed to have been killed. Prisoner was said to have been in the house after ther murder’. In the Galway Express a tribute to the police of Athenry was given by the solicitor-general for all their work in the murder case and the judge agreed with the him.

Was it ethical to sentence a man to death and then allow him to go under a life-saving procedure because of the Tumour in his back? The tumour did not spread to his brain but he was apparently dying anyways with the constant fainting on the scaffold. Keely was guilty of both theft and murder. The people of Athenry were generous to him and there was no need to steal from Mary Clasby aswell. Thomas Keely, was guilty of both theft and murder.

Elopement in County Galway by Ronan Killeen

Back in 2013 i printed of a newspaper article from the 19th century it was to do with an 'Elopment' 'Elopment in the County of...