The Maamtrasna murders, 130 years ago, were shockingly brutal, but they are more remembered today for the blatant miscarrage of justice in the following court case. Myles Joyce was hung, protesting his innocence to the last. Recently, the National Library of Ireland has acquired photographs of Myles Joyce and the other nine men accused of the Maamtrasna murders.
A monoglot Irish speaker, Myles Joyce, who had no English, was defended in court in Dublin by a solicitor and barristers who spoke no Irish. The evidence he gave as Gaeilge was ignored in court. Evidence which might have helped his defence was withheld and the trial also heard from informers gave false evidence against him.
The judge and jury who convicted him had no Irish and the jury deliberated for less than six minutes to decide on his guilt before sentence of death was passed.
An Coimisinéir Teanga, Seán Ó Cuirreáin, said Mr Joyce’s case was one of most significant and distressing cases ever concerning the denial of language rights.