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Execution at Galway Gaol – 1885

Galwjaol

Galway Gaol Image; Galway Library

Aberystwyth Observer 24th January 1885 (abridged)

Thomas P,, who shot his sweetheart in August last, was hanged on Tuesday morning at a few minutes after eight o’clock, in Galway Gaol. The condemned man slept well during the night, and ate his breakfast heartily. He was afterwards strapped inside his cell by the executioner, B, and was then conducted to the scaffold by the prison officials, a warder holding him by the left arm.
He answered the responses of the chaplain in an audible voice, and when ascending the steps of the scaffold a warder caught him by the arm to support him, but P. shook off his grasp, saying that he could ascend unassisted. B. motioned to him where to stand, and he took his place, still continuing the responses to the chaplain’s prayers. No hitch or delay of any kind occurred, and death appeared to be instantaneous.
The condemned man had appeared to expect, when he was respited for a week to enable the Lord Lieutenant to consider his case, that the respite would lead to a reprieve, and when he was told a second time to prepare for death he seemed paralysed with fear. During the past two days, however, he had become more resigned, and before his end he had recovered his customary composure.
At the inquest a long statement was produced from P., which he handed to the governor of the prison immediately before his execution, in which he expressed his sorrow for the crime, and acknowledged the justice of the sentence. He thanked his friends for endeavouring to get him reprieved, and the officials for their kindness during his confinement in gaol; and, in conclusion, said:

My last declaration is that my mind was not right when I committed the deed, nor for a week previous, nor for some time afterwards. Therefore, my family and friends may rest assured that the testimony of the learned and skilful gentleman, Dr. K., as to the state of my mind on July 24, 1884, was correct, and I should be sorry to leave this world without doing this justice to a kind and Christian gentleman. 
It will be remembered that Dr. K., the doctor at the prison, testified all through that P. was insane; but Drs. C. and B., of Dublin, who were sent down by the Lord-Lieutenant to examine him, testified that he was quite sound in his mind.

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