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Francie Hynes
(Roud 9304)
Theresa Cooney
Recorded in singer’s home

Carroll Mackenzie Collection


Oh Francie Hynes it is my name, good Christians for me pray.
I leave with kind relations, to mourn me today.
But in fact all over Ireland, are sympathising me,
Come draw the bolt, I’m in a cell, and ready for to die.

They said I shot Deloughry - such things I never done.
As much less crime to take a life, I never owned a gun.
My name they only mentioned as, they seen me passing by,
And that was the only evidence that, condemned me for to die.

Oh God defend my chaplain, I did my duty well.
By night and day for me did pray, in my lonely prison cell.
And the day of my execution, stood with him side by side,
And up to the gallows scaffold, erected I was spied.

With ? I dropped, my feeling pain, I have no more to say.
There is many a man as well as me, whose life they have took away.
But I’ll put my trust in ?? on him whose blood will flow,
To seek that mercy from my God, no earthly judge can show.

They said I shot Deloughry - such things I’ve never done.
As much less crime to take the man’s life, I never owned a gun.
My name they only mentioned, as they seen me passing by,
And that was the only evidence that, condemned me for to die.


“Sean Spellissey wrote of this:
‘The official version of the case against Francie Hynes is that on the 9th August, 1882, John Doolaghty was found in a ‘dying condition’ with a charge of snipe shot in his head on the roadside at Knockanane, near Ennis. Before he expired, he is reported to have said: ‘It was Francie Hynes who did it.’ It was later claimed that the evidence amounted to no more than a squeeze of the hand of Colonel Turner, County Inspector of the R.I.C., the constable who visited the dying man at his death-bed and mentioned Hynes’ name. The records of the case would seem to bear out the common belief that the evidence for conviction was slight, and the conclusion could reasonably be drawn that the prosecution owed its success to two factors: the troubled mood of the times, when the forces of law and order were determined to have a conviction; and the prosecuting skills of Peter the Packer. The defence case rested largely on the evidence that Hynes had been seen drinking in at Hassett’s Public House in Barefield four miles away at the time of the murder and could not possibly have been present. The police produced a runner to prove he could and the prosecution stressed Hynes’s age 23, his height, 6 ft 3 inches and his ‘handsome and athletic appearance’. Local legend has it that Barefield postmistress, Maggie O’Dea; put her clock on by ten minutes in an effort to save Hynes.

It was generally believed that the prosecution case was based on flimsy evidence and that Francie Hynes, although believed to be connected with the murder, did not actually kill Doolaghty. The verdict raised a general outcry, particularly in the nationalist press. An article in the Freeman's Journal suggested that the jurors were under the influence of drink the night before the verdict was given (the prosecuting counsel Peter ‘The Packer’ O’Brien was said to have earned his nickname for his ability to eliminate candidates who would be prejudicial to his intended verdicts). Dwyer Gray, owner of the Journal, was summoned for contempt of court and underwent a term of imprisonment rather than pay a fine. Political pressure won out in the end: there was no reprieve - Dublin Castle wanted a victim. The Francie Hynes murder case took place at the time of the activities of The Land League, which has been claimed to have had an influence on the determination of the authorities to secure a favourable victory for law and order. There was said to be a ‘terrorist’ element of the League active at the time, referred to as ‘Moonlighters’ and, despite the lack of evidence, there was political pressure at the time to make it desirable that Hynes should be found guilty in order to show that the authorities were determined to stamp out rural lawlessness.’

An article entitled Songs of Agrarian Strife’ printed in the ‘Old Limerick Journal’ sums up the contemporary attitude to such events presented Hynes as ‘A Moonlighter and assassin and most unsympathetic for the victim’. Later accounts related how even the hangman Marwood believed Hynes innocent; ‘I never executed a finer man, nor a man with so much nerve. He walked to his doom with the utmost composure and I cannot but admire him.’ The remarks fuelled a story current at the time that Hynes died to save a relation with a young family from the rope. After the hanging a number of more credible suspects were named for the crime, including one, who shortly after, emigrated to America and was said to have ‘fainted when he was told of the execution’.
Peter the Packer: a man of his times, Sean Spellissey, Dal gCais, no. 7, 1984.
Songs of Agrarian Strife, Pat Feeley in The Old Limerick Journal, Summer Edition, 2001.
Jim Carroll

See also
Francie Hynes sung by
Michael Falsey
The Doolaghty murder and the trial of Francie Hynes in The Delahunty Family History

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