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Clare History
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Methods of Punishment

Maintenance of Stocks, Etc.

1672: Stocks required for Clondagad and Killone.
1699: Presentment for a pair of stocks and constables staff, one pound six shillings.
1701: Repairing the stocks, Six shillings to make up the stocks sufficient for four years.
1723: Substantial pair of stocks and whipping post, one pound three shillings.
1762: Repairing the stocks - five shillings.
1769: Three pounds two shillings "for the stock and stands and for erecting them".
1775: "Whereas, it appears to us that a pair of stocks are much wanting in said borough and that we can't with propriety lay in more money for the present year, but Mr. John O'Dea having agreed with us to supply a good, substantial pair of stocks, for which we have agreed to pay him three guineas, which said sum we promise shall be presented for him at the next Michaelmas quarter meeting".
1796: Five pounds to complete and erect stocks.

Ducking Stool

1748: One pound and ten shillings cost "to make up a proper ducking stool" to punish scolds and nagging women.

A ducking stool was a seat attached to a long pole mounted on a support. A scold or nagging woman, on the order of the borough court, would be strapped to the stool and ducked in the waters of the Fergus.

Whipping Post

Recalcitrant prisoners were flogged at the whipping post set up in the Market Place in front of the Courthouse.
One pound three shillings was to be collected from the freemen of the borough "for erecting a good and substantial pair of stocks and whipping post with sufficient materials".

Assizes and Courtmartials

In the first week of March many of the prisoners were bought to trial at the Clare Assizes. Seven were condemned to death, while others were sentenced to transportation or gaol or whipping. Those sentenced to death were brought back to their own areas for execution. These executions took place in public and attracted big crowds of people. When Hugh Kildeas and Michael Murphy were hanged at Ennistymon their bodies were left on the gallows for three hours "as an awful warning to the spectators."

A "good and substantial pair of stocks and whipping post" were erected in 1724 and men were publicly flogged in Ennis as late as 1800.
The provost could declare people personae non gratae and bar them from the borough (of Ennis).

In 1743, Mary McNamara was removed from the town as "a lewd, loose and idle woman".

In 1748, Arthur Parks was paid one pound and ten shillings to "make up a proper ducking stool" to punish common scolds or nagging women.


  • Instrument of punishment consisting of a heavy wooden frame with holes in which the feet, hands or head of an offender were locked.
  • Breach of the Sabbath, a five shilling fine or three hours in the stock.
  • Walking at time of Divine Service, two shillings and sixpence or three hours in the stock.

Description of Flogging

The Ennis Chronicle described the scene of a flogging in Ennis on 22nd June, 1798.
"Last Friday morning, the troops from the garrison of Clare and those quartered in this town, under the command of Lord Granard, with the horse and foot corps of Yeomanry, under the command of Captain Crowe, lined the streets when the different persons confined in our jail on treasonable charges were brought forth and marched to the square opposite the court house, where the sentence of the court martial, which lately sat here was pronounced against the following culprits:"-

  • Michael Pilkington, to receive 800 lashes and to be transported for life. He was in a delicate state of health and being tied up to the pumps, 60 lashes only were inflicted for the present.
  • Brennan, to receive 200 lashes, but being represented by the court as an object of mercy on account of his youth, Lord Granard was pleased to remit his sentence of finding sufficient security for his future good conduct.
  • John Commane, to receive 500 lashes and serve his Majesty abroad, 425 of which were well applied and Michael Commane, his brother, to receive 300 - 75 of which induced him promise that he would make useful discoveries, upon which he was taken from the pumps and reconducted to prison.
  • The punishment of the above traitors was inflicted by the drum boys of the Longford Militia, who in the application of their cats, most "feelingly" proved their detestation of Republican principles.

Flogging at Corofin, 1798.

The following is a note made many years ago by the late Dr. George U. MacNamara, of Baunkyle House, Corofin, Co. Clare, and which was recently discovered among his papers by his son, Dr. Donagh MacNamara.
"Andreas Reagh Kane, father of Shawn Reagh Kane the tailor, was flogged at Corofin three market days in succession, tied to a cart, for supposed complicity in the rebellion of '98."

North Munster Antiquarian Journal, Vol. 11-12

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