Ballina, Mayo, Ireland
Wednesday, April 17, 1850
EXECUTION OF THE TWO BROTHERS GAVIN
On Saturday we stated that a memorial had been forwarded to the Lord
Lieutenant on behalf of Matthew and Wm. Gavin, under rule of execution in
the County gaol, for the murder of John Ryan, at Cappamore, praying his
Excellency to commute the capital punishment to transportation for life. To
that application an answer was received on Sunday from Dublin Castle,
stating - "His Excellency the Lord Lieutenant sees no grounds for
interfering with the execution of the sentence of the law, in the case of
William and Matthew Gavin."
The Governor of the gaol received another communication from Dublin
Castle yesterday morning stating that the Lord Lieutenant has had the case
of the Gavin's again brought before him, and sees nothing to make him change
his former decision, and that the law is to take its course.
The final letter sealed the doom of the wretched young men, and in
pursuance of the sentence pronounced by Serjeant Stock at last assizes, the
ill fated brothers were executed this day at 3 o'clock in front of the
county gaol. The scene was affecting as they embraced and bid a last
farewell to each other in this world, with an earnest prayer to God that
they may be united in the next. They made no public declaration on the
scaffold. They were attended by Rev. William Bourke, R.C. Chaplain of the
prison, Rev. Messrs. Bunton and Quinlan. The city police, under
Sub-Inspector Williams, were on duty in front of the prison.
The wretched young men, previous to execution, declared in their cell,
to the Rev. Wm. Bourke, that destitution, consequent upon acts of oppression
and cruelty towards their brother by John Ryan, for whose murder they were
condemned to death, urged them to do the commission of the deed, which was
the result of sudden anger and not premeditated, on an occasion when they
accidentally met the deceased on their way home.
A concourse of spectators, amounting to some thousands, mostly females,
attended to witness the spectacle and though horrifying the scene, the
"light fingered" community were busily engaged. Two women had their pockets
cut off, while several of the male sex were relieved of their pocket
handkerchiefs! The only surviving brother of the Gavins mingled in the crowd
and witnessed the execution. Matthew died in agony - William ceased to exist
after one convulsive struggle.
The bodies having suspended for an hour were lowered from the gallows,
and removed for burial within the precincts of the gaol.
Ages of the two culprits - Matthew Gavin, 19 years, William Gavin 17
Cathy Joynt Labath
Ireland Old News