Page:Life of John Boyle O'Reilly.djvu/308

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ots, two Irish gentlemen, relatives, one of them a Catholic priest. Rev. Nicholas Sheehy, parish priest of Newcastle, Tipperary, and Edmund Sheehy, were sentenced to be hanged, drawn, and quartered. On the 15th of March, 1766 (nine years before the Battle of Bunker Hill), Father Sheehy underwent this barbarous sentence at Cloumel. The head of the murdered priest was stuck on a pike and placed over the porch of the old jail at Clonmel, and there it was allowed to remain for twenty years (till 1786)—ten years after the declaration of American independence; till at length the dead priest's sister was allowed to take it away and bury it with his remains at Shandraghan.

On the 3d of May, in that year (1766), Edmund Sheehy, James Buxton, and James Farrell underwent the same sentence at the town of Clogheen. Some of the vile details were omitted, however. In the Gentleman's and London Magazine of May, 1766, there is an account of their execution, evidently written by an eye-witness. I take this extract:

"Sheehy met his fate with the most undaunted courage, and delivered his declaration (of innocence of crime) with as much composure of mind as if he had been repeating a prayer. When this awful scene was finished, they were turned off upon a signal given by Sheehy, who seemed in a sort of exultation, and sprang from the car. He was dead immediately. They were cut down, and the executioner severed their heads from their bodies, which were delivered to their friends. Sheehy left a widow and five children; Buxton, three children; Farrell, one."

To prove that the barbarous sentence has long been abandoned, the writer in the Herald says rashly, that "there have been men put to death," within recent years, for "offenses against the crown," but they were not "hanged, drawn, and quartered." He says he can, to-day, say where are to be found the "gallows irons" in which hung the corpse of the last man so condemned in Great Britain.

The nameless gentleman is thinking of men who were "hanged in chains"—a totally different sentence and execution, and for a wholly different crime.

There were no "gallows irons" needed when a man was only to be hanged a few minutes and then cut down and carved. Gallows irons were used not to kill but to suspend the corpse, sometimes for weeks, on the gallows, so that it could not be cut down by friends of the criminal. This was the punishment of robbers and pirates; but no man condemned for high treason was ever "hung in chains." Indeed, no man "in his day or mine" has been put to death for high treason in Great Britain or Ireland. No man in those countries received the capital sentence for high treason between Robert Emmet in 1803 and Edward Kelly, Gen. Thomas Francis Bourke, now of New York, and other Irishmen of the revolutionary movement of 1867.