Total for year ending 1 May 1793, £4161.13.19
Total for year ending 1 May 1794, £4163.6.101⁄2
I discovered the story of the Bodkin Murders when researching The Genealogy of the Anglo-Norman Lynches who settled in Galway. That encouraged me to write a historical novel, A Story of the Bodkin Murders, that dealt with the trevails of this Anglo-Norman family. More recently, I have drafted a stage play based on the hanging of young John Bodkin in 1742. He had been found guilty of the murder of his elder brother, Dominick, whose death in 1739 was originally deemed a natural event. I had always felt that young John was innocent of fratricide because he refused to acknowledge his guilt, and because his last words on the gallows, I forgive mankind, implied innocence.
To further prove the point, I contacted the National University of Ireland at Galway to inquire if the Liber A On-Line Galway Corporation Statute Book 1485-1712 extended beyond 1712. I had hoped it would contain a record of the trial and hanging of young John on 19/20 March 1742 that occurred in the Tholsel building and at Gallows Green, Galway. Archivist Kieran Hoare responded to my inquiry but found no relevant record in the Liber Book of the period. However, he extended his search to uncover reports of the Bodkin Murders and related events in the London Evening Post and in the Daily Post. These confirmed the reportage of the Bodkin Murders in Pue’s Occurrences but also featured some interesting differences in detail.
Differences in Reportage
These variations in detail will help me to conclude a stage play about an apparent miscarriage of justice that led to the hanging of a young man in 1742.
The author wishes to gratefully acknowledge the contribution of Kieran Hoare, Archivist National University of Ireland, Galway, who provided the reports dealing with the Bodkin Murders in the London Evening Post and in the Daily Post. I also gratefully acknowledge Marie Boran, Special Collections Librarian, who facilitated the interaction with her colleague.
 London Evening Post (London, England) October 1-3, 1741, 17th -18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers; Daily Post (London, England) Saturday, October 3, 1741, 17th -18th Century Burney Collection Newspapers; London Evening Post, October 10-13, 1741,
 As in footnote 2.
 London Evening Post, October, 10-13, 1741; A Story of the Bodkin Murders, Paul B McNulty, 2015.
 As in footnote 5.
 London Evening Post, March 27-30, 1742.
David Burke’s Bookshelf, Tuam Herald, page 45, 4 May 2016.
Library Corner – a look at some of the books in your local library.
Fiction mixed with local murders makes for a gripping read.
In second place only to the notorious Maamtrasna Murders in the annals of truly shocking Irish crimes are the ‘Bodkin Murders’ of 1741. That they happened only a few short miles from Tuam makes a recently-published novel by Paul McNulty all the more interesting. The story, as it has been handed down, is known only through a few references in the Dublin newspapers of note of that time, and through the memoirs of the Headford barrister Oliver J. Burke in his Anecdotes of the Connaught Circuit (1885).
This account of the murders claimed that John Bodkin Jr., the dissolute eldest son of Oliver Bodkin of Carrowmore House in Belclare orchestrated the violent murders of his own father, his heavily-pregnant stepmother Margery Blake, and his seven year old stepbrother, Oliver Jr., along with the servants and others unfortunate enough to have been in Carrowmore on the night in question. In all eleven people were murdered. They were purportedly killed as revenge for John Jr’s disinheritance, in favour of the infant Oliver Jr., his father’s other son, by his second marriage. In carrying through the plot, John Jr. was helped by one of Carrowmore’s tenants, John Hogan, and his father’s embittered brother, ‘Blind’ Dominick Bodkin of nearby Carrowbeg. Justice being swifter in those days, all three were apprehended and hung at Claretuam within a matter of days of the murders.
As if all this was not enough, John Jr. made a dramatic confession from the gallows, in which he implicated a cousin (also John Bodkin) of having suffocated his own brother (another Dominick) to death, a number of years earlier, in what the resident magistrate Lord Athenry had at the time judged to have been a natural death. This John was then hunted down and executed in Galway some months later. There have always been problems with the account that Burke gave in 1885; the role of the tenant Hogan is ambiguous to say the least. He was purportedly chief murderer on the night (including of the child), in spite of the fact that he and his wife had fostered Oliver Jr. as a baby. There is moreover an apparent lack of motive in the case of John Bodkin’s fratricide, his brother Dominick being the younger of the two, and therefore no threat to John’s inheritance (of the neighbouring Carrowbeg House in their case).
Without wishing to provide any plot ‘spoilers’, in his latest novel Paul McNulty provides a thrilling tale, which attempts to grapple with some of these discrepancies; its protagonists, the tragic John Bodkin (Dominick’s accused brother) and his fiancée Catherine, daughter of Lord Athenry. Part romance, part thriller, McNulty beautifully evokes the period and has researched the time and its events thoroughly. What comes shining through are not the gory details of an appalling crime, but the human cost to those left behind. A gripping read!
(A Review by Ruairí Ó hAodha.)
1798: A Rebel Romance portrays the revolutionary experience of John Moore and Cecilia Lynch who have been radicalized by the unjust nature of society. John, the son of a wealthy entrepreneur, studied at the Sorbonne during the French Revolution where he adopted the democratic ideals of liberty, equality and fraternity.
Cecilia Lynch, the illegitimate daughter of the late Sir Harry Lynch-Blosse of Balla, Co Mayo, returned to her foster grandparents, the Moores of Mayo after her father died. The Moore’s independent streak, refusing to conform to Protestantism, had the impact of radicalizing Cecilia.
Thus when John Moore returned from mainland Europe to his ancestral home, it was almost inevitable that his involvement with the United Irishman would forge a bond between him and Cecilia. As such, she is an ideal vehicle within which to explore the role of women in revolution an aspect largely ignored by historians and, thereby, worthy of investigation through the medium of a play.
When Cecilia Lynch falls in love with John Moore, a United Irishman, she finds herself drawn into the web of revolution. The illegitimate daughter of the late Sir Harry Lynch-Blosse stands by her fiance when General Humbert routs the redcoats through Castlebar. Cecilia is jubilant when the Frenchman appoints Moore, formerly of Alicante and the Sorbonne, as President of Connaught in 1798 within the declared Irish Republic. Their hopes for the future are unrestrained, unless powerful forces may conspire to destroy their dream.
UCD Dramsoc has scheduled my stage play for 18-22 April, 2016 in a state-of-the-art theatre in the Student Centre (adjacent to the new Sport’s Centre) at Belfield, Dublin 4. Shows commence at 7 pm and are open to the public. Admission is €5 payable on the night. Advance bookings by emailing email@example.com
ELOPEMENT by Paul B McNulty
Sibella Cottle, now pregnant, is thrilled when Harry Lynch-Blosse elopes with her. But will his unresolved annulment shatter her dreams?
SIBELLA COTTLE (Sarah Burton, also Orlaith): An orphaned, 19 year-old red-haired beauty.
HARRY LYNCH-BLOSSE (Ryan Gillespie, also Donagh Ruane): A philandering 25 year-old heir to a baronetcy.
RECTOR GARROOD (Liam Galgey): Church of England, Belstead, Suffolk.
(Disembodied voices may play the butler and the chamber-maid.)
Wednesday, 8th December 1773, drawing room of Belstead Hall, Suffolk, home of Elizabeth Barker, the late mother of Harry Lynch-Blosse, Balla, Co Mayo, and the home of her late uncle, Tobias Blosse.
SIBELLA SITS ON A SOFA IN THE DRAWING ROOM OF BELSTEAD HALL. SHE WEARS A MODEST DRESS WITH HER HAIR TIED HIGH. HARRY ENTERS WEARING A JACKET, CRAVAT, WAISTCOAT, SWORD AND TIGHT BREECHES OVER WHITE STOCKINGS.
SIBELLA: Harry! Why are you wearing your sword?
HARRY: Because, Rector Garrood has agreed to marry us.
SIBELLA: Wondrous! That’s great news, Harry. (RISES.) It only seems like yesterday since I left a note for my parents.
HARRY: What did you say?
SIBELLA: I thanked them … from the bottom of my heart … for looking after me from infancy. I asked them to forgive me for my irresponsible behaviour / that
HARRY: Irresponsible behaviour?
SIBELLA: Sleeping with you, you big brute! (PACES.) They offered to settle me in Waterford during my confinement. I would have hated that! Instead, you offered to take me to Suffolk. I asked them not to be angry with me.
HARRY: What happened next?
SIBELLA: I rose at five that morning. I donned my winter shawl and shouldered my bag. I crept down the stairs and opened the back door. The guard dog wandered over. I stroked him to keep him quiet. He walked with me to the corn mill where I waited until I heard the sound of footsteps.
HARRY: And then … the dogs started barking … but we were on our way … by gig to Castlebar … by coach to Ballinasloe … and on to Dublin. Seven days later … we arrived exhausted at Belstead … after a stormy sea and bumpy coach-rides.
SIBELLA: I was so sick. I feared for the safety of our baby … but I think he’s all right.
HARRY: Thank God for that.
SIBELLA: What did Lady Lynch say when you announced your departure?
HARRY: She wondered if I might find it lonely. I said: “Grandmamma! How could I possibly be lonely in the house of my birth, the house in which I spent the first six years of my life?”
SIBELLA: Clever boy. (PAUSE.) So what did you do in Ipswich yesterday?
HARRY: I met the family solicitor. He gave me this affidavit. (LAYS IT ON THE TABLE.) I’m now free to marry. (BENDING DOWN ON ONE KNEE.) Sibella Cottle, I ask you again … will you do me the great honour? (PROFFERS AN ENGAGEMENT RING.) Will you marry me, my dear heart?
SIBELLA: Of course, I will marry you, my darling. (HUGS HIM.) This is the happiest day of my life. (ADMIRES THE RING ON HER FOURTH LEFT FINGER.) But how will Garrood react to my faith?
HARRY: Mixed marriages are now allowed in England, he said. (FROWNS.) But then he wondered … if you were one-and-twenty.
HARRY: Because at nineteen, you need the written consent of your parents. I said a gentleman could never ask a lady her age. I insisted, however, that you had reached your majority.
SIBELLA: Clever again! I can swear to nineteen with a clear conscience … it suffices for a majority in certain cases. (PACES.) But how can we marry today? I have no wedding dress.
HARRY: You could wear my mother’s wedding / dress
SIBELLA: Oh how I would love my own creation … but your mother’s wedding dress will have to do … if, I can fit into it … in my condition.
A KNOCK ON THE DOOR SIGNALS THE ENTRANCE OF RECTOR GARROOD.
HARRY: You’re most welcome, Rector. Allow me to introduce Miss Cottle of Ashbrook House.
GARROOD: I’m delighted to meet you Miss Cottle.
SIBELLA: (CURTSIES.) Thank you for agreeing to marry us, Rector. As you know, I’m a Catholic, and have reached my majority.
GARROOD: You certainly have retained a remarkable youthfulness. It must be the fresh air of Ireland.
SIBELLA: Please excuse me, gentlemen … I must settle my hair.
AT THE APPOINTED HOUR, THE CHAMBER-MAID PLAYS A WEDDING MARCH ON THE PIANO OFFSTAGE. SIBELLA ENTERS, WEARING A LOW-CUT DRESS WITH HER HAIR BOBBING OVER HER SHOULDERS. CANDLES, FLOWERS AND INCENSE STICKS DECORATE THE ROOM.
HARRY: (HUMS THE WEDDING MARCH.) Sibella, my darling, you are a diamond of the first water. (ESCORTS HER TO STAND BEFORE GARROOD.)
GARROOD: (SMILES.) We are gathered here today to celebrate the union of Mr Harry Lynch-Blosse and Miss Sibella Cottle in holy matrimony. (GLANCES AT HARRY.) Mr Lynch-Blosse will you take Miss Sibella Cottle to be your lawful wedded wife? Will you love her, comfort her, honour and protect her for as long as … (FROWNS.) Is that a galloping horse, I hear?
OFFSTAGE: An urgent message for Mr Lynch-Blosse.
HARRY’S HAND TREMBLES WHILE OPENING THE LETTER. AFTER SCANNING IT, HE COLLAPSES INTO THE SOFA WITH THE LETTER DANGLING FROM HIS LEFT HAND.
GARROOD: Are you quite well, Mr Lynch-Blosse?
HARRY: (PASSES THE LETTER TO GARROOD.) I’m ever so sorry, Sibella.
SIBELLA: For heaven’s sake, what does it say?
GARROOD: (RECITES.) “ … Further to a request from my colleague in Ipswich … I regret to say that your application for an annulment of your first marriage remains unresolved. May I suggest that you postpone your wedding to Miss Cottle until we remove this encumbrance to your union?
Andrew Edmondson, Solicitor, Castlebar.”
SIBELLA: How could you do this to me, Harry? How could you be so stupid … so careless?
HARRY: Don’t worry my darling. Edmondson will soon sort it, I promise.
SIBELLA SINKS BACK INTO THE SOFA AND CRIES.
HARRY: Please accept my apologies, Rector Garrood. I was sure my annulment would have succeeded by now.
GARROOD: You must not worry. You will marry soon. Now, I should leave you in peace. (DEPARTS.)
HARRY: (DRAWS HIS SWORD.) Aaaaaaaaaaaaaah! (HOLDS IT ALOFT AND PLUNGES IT INTO THE SOFA BESIDE SIBELLA.)
END OF PLAY.
Participant in the UCD Dramsoc Mini Plays Festival (including minor amendments), Dramsoc Theatre at 7 p.m. on 14, 15 and 16 October, 2015 under the direction of Rosa Bowden, Auditor, UCD Dramsoc, Student Centre, University College Dublin, Belfield, Dublin 4, Ireland. Actors (indicated in italics) are members of UCD Dramsoc.
1. Sofa and table.
2. Modest dress quickly convertible to a low-cut dress.
3. Harry’s jacket, cravat, waistcoat and tight breeches over white stockings.
4. Affidavit and Letter.
5. Engagement ring.
6. Candles, flowers and incense sticks.
7. Waistband, scabbard and sword.
1. Sound of footsteps.
2. Dogs barking.
3. Wedding march (MENDELSSOHN Piano).
4. Sound of a galloping horse.
A 1741 report in Pue’s Occurrences was the only primary source cited by Oliver J Burke in his 1885 Anecdotes of the Connaught Circuit… dealing with the Bodkin murders that occurred in the village of Belclare, Tuam, Co Galway, Ireland. No editorial corrections have been applied to this historic report in the twice weekly newspaper, apart from substituting the letter “s” for its antiquated form similar to the letter “f”. I have also used this report and other undiscovered primary sources in writing my 2015 historical novel, A Story of the Bodkin Murders.
Country – News, Tuam Oct. the 9th 1741
On Monday, Oct. 5th Mr. Justice Rose sat here, to hold the Assizes Pursuant to his Adjournment from Galway, on the 24 Aug. last, some prisoners who lay in the County Jail at Gallway, were sent for by Thomas Shaw, Esq., High Sheriff.
Tuesday the 6th, John Bodkin Fitz Oliver, Domnick Bodkin, commonly called blind Domnick , and John Cagane (a Shepherd) commonly called Shane Ryeevagh, and also John Bodkin Fitz John, commonly called John Counsellor (in Contra Distinction to his Cousin Germain the said John Oliver) were brought from Galway Jail hither, and on the same Day the Solicitor General came here.
Wednesday the 7th the Grand Jury found 30 Bills of Indictment against John Oliver Bodkin, Blind Domnick Bodkin, and Shane Ryeevagh, for the murder of Oliver Bodkin father of said John Oliver, of Margery Bodkin his Wife, of Oliver Bodkin the younger, their Son, and Brother by the half Blood of said Oliver Bodkin, of Marcus Lynch a merchant from Gallway, who on the 18th Sept. (the Night said Murder was committed) went to the said Oliver’s House at Carrowbane (where the Tragedy happened) for a Bed and Retirement from the Hurry of the Races of Tuam, and for the Murder of five other Persons, on which Indictment the said several Prisoners being called on to the Barr, were arraigned and they pleaded severally Guilty, whereupon the usual Sentence was pronounced, and they wou’d be executed from the Dock, but that it was then towards Night, or very late in the Evening, and the Gallows was not erected, but they were executed next Day. John Oliver and Blind Domnick are to be hung up on Gibbets near the place where the Murder was committed, and Shane Ryeevagh was quarter’d and his Bowells burned he being then alive, his Head is to be hung over the Court House, or Market House of this Town. These barbarous malefactors were in the Dock, in the Jail, and at the Gallows very sensible of their Crime, and behaved very penitently, and declared their Punishment was too Mild for their Offence.
John Oliver and Blind Domnick while in Court, and at the Gallows persisted in a charge of another Murder, which they alledged was committed on the 3rd of May 1739, in manner following.
Domnick Bodkin the son and heir of Councellor John Bodkin being seized by descent of an Estate of 800l. per Ann. had several Brothers, but particularly his second Brother John, (or the above named John Counsellor) and Francis Bodkin, lately deceas’d his fourth Brother, these 3 Brothers lay on said 3rd May 1739, at their Uncle the said Oliver Bodkin’s House at Carrowbane, where lay also the said blind Domnick Bodkin. Domnick Bodkin lay in an inner Room, & all said other Persons on 2 Pallads in another Room, and the Family lay in the further end of the House, blind Domnick and John Counsellor lay on one Pallad together, and Frank Bodkin and John Oliver in another. John Oliver (who was not in the secret) being a sleep, his Bedfellow Frank Bodkin and the other two, blind Domnick and John Counsellor, got up, went into the inner Room & there they strangled the Unfortunate Domnick Bodkin which pass’d for a sudden Death, by which an Estate of 800l. per Ann. fell to the Murderer (as is charged) John Bodkin Counsellor, his Brother. The said John Oliver and blind Domnick further declared they and Frank Bodkin intended soon afterwards to Murder John Counsellor and one Patrick Bodkin, his brother, elder than Frank Bodkin, whereby the Estate of 800l. per Ann. would come to Frank, all this the executed murderers insisted till they were cast off.
The said John Oliver also declared that the aforesaid Murder proving so successful and undiscovered, encouraged him to commit this horrid Paracide and said he had often laid poison for his Brother and Mother, which had not the desired Effect.
Note: The more severe punishment applied to the shepherd, John Cagane commonly called Shane Ryeevagh, may be occasioned by his lower social status as compared to the landed gentry Bodkins even though he may have been a reluctant participant as suggested in A Story of the Bodkin Murders.
A bloody slaughter — a tainted inheritance — a dark secret.
After one of the bloodiest massacres in Irish history, John Bodkin is accused of fratricide in an earlier conflict fuelled by a row over inheritance. At an infamous trial, John refuses to plead guilty or not guilty to the murder of his brother, Patrick. Only his betrothed Catherine Bermingham, the beautiful daughter of Lord Athenry, knows why. She is the keeper of a dark secret, which John insists must be kept hidden, even if it costs him his life.
Based on a true story, my third historical novel explores a tale of treachery, greed and romance in 18th century Ireland. The Story of the Bodkin Murders is available from Club Lighthouse as an e-book, and from Amazon.co.uk and Amazon.com in both paperback and Kindle formats.
The glittering dance parties out of Jane Austen‘s world in beautiful ball dresses and carriages is not all about Paul McNulty’s book. The Abduction of Anne O’ Donel published by Club Lighthouse set in an old time charming atmosphere highlights the dilemma of whether or not marriages should be made out of love or convenience.
As Anne the beloved daughter and a wealthy heiress tries to sort out her conflict regarding who she must marry between the two suitors, her father earnestly suggests that she must marry the Oxford graduate hotshot lawyer and the writer although Anne may love another, one Mr. Jasper Martin. The deeper one delves into the novel, the more it feels as though the characters are out of a Georgette Heyer, or Baroness Orczy era.
Or even better, Jane Austen’s, upper class snobbery talking money, status, marriage, courting endlessly with a taste of adventure and conspiracy all in a day’s work. Admittedly, the language is well matched with a quaint, yet modern flavor, favorably poised side by side.
It is a fantastic read. One that appeals to a visible world of both light and grey with domestic violence looming high, surrounding a manipulative, angry father and husband in tow. Is there a way out? Pick up your book and find out now.
The election manifesto of Arthur Browne, Viscount Westport and James Cuffe MP of Ballinrobe was published in the Freeman’s Journal on six occasions from May 9 to May 21 for the May 23 election in Castlebar. The two candidates appeared irritated by having to endure an electoral contest having been nominated to represent Mayo by the gentlemen of the county on September 4, 1775.
To the Gentlemen, Clergy, and Freeholders of the County of Mayo.
Gentlemen, Having had the Honour to be called upon to stand joint Candidates to represent the County of Mayo in the next Parliament, by the unanimous voice of the Gentlemen of our County at the County Meeting, held at Castlebar on Monday the 4th September last, by Advertisement in the public Papers, the High Sheriff in the Chair, We thought that the Sense of that Meeting would show the Sentiments of the County, and prevent the unnecessary Trouble to Gentlemen removed from Castlebar of attending at the Election; but as we find that an Opposition is intended, we beg Leave to call upon you for the Honour of your Suffrages on that Occasion; and as the High Sheriff has fixed on Thursday the 23rd Day of this inst. May, at the County Courthouse in Castlebar, in said County, at eight o’Clock in the Forenoon of said Day, to proceed to the Election; and as it is probable (as two polls are by the late Law to go on together) the Election will not hold many Days, the early Appearances of our friends will lay a lasting Obligation on,
Your most obliged, and most obedient humble Servants,
WESTPORT, JAMES CUFF.
Castlebar May 7, 1776.
When the votes were counted over two days, Browne (709) and Cuffe (613) were re-elected despite opposition from George Fitzgerald Esq (245), and Charles Fitzgerald Esq (149) who were eliminated. The total votes cast for the four candidates were 1716 as recorded in Finn’s Leinster Journal and in the Freeman’s Journal, Sat 1 Jun 1776.