Historical crimes under spotlight in Waterford

Real-life historical crimes and tragedies will be put under the magnifying glass during a murder mystery weekend in west Waterford next week.

Historical crimes under spotlight in Waterford

By Conor Kane

Real-life historical crimes and tragedies will be put under the magnifying glass during a murder mystery weekend in west Waterford next week.

Local historian and author, John Young, pictured at Dungarvan Castle ahead of the free, bi-lingual Murder Mystery weekend planned for Dungarvan on November 16 and 17. Photo;Mary Browne
Local historian and author, John Young, pictured at Dungarvan Castle ahead of the free, bi-lingual Murder Mystery weekend planned for Dungarvan on November 16 and 17. Photo;Mary Browne

The wrongful convictions and subsequent hanging of innocent men for murder in the 1880s and the mysterious disappearance of a local postman on Christmas Day nearly 100 years ago are among the stories.

Speakers at the inaugural Dungarvan event, organised by the Irish Office at Waterford City and County Council, will include the former Mountjoy Prison governor John Lonergan, and law and Irish lecturer at UCC, Seán Ó Conaill.

The event on November 16-17 is part of the Bliain na Gaeilge and Creative Ireland celebrations and will appeal to locals and visitors with an interest in history, the law, language, tall tales, mystery and mayhem. There will also be free children’s storytelling and mask-making, big screen drama, walks, talks, storytelling, singing and more, according to the council’s Irish officer, Máire Seó Breathnach. She said participants don’t have to be native or fluent Irish speakers to join in. Many of the big screen events will be subtitled and several events will be conducted in both Irish and English.

“It’s the first time we’ve staged a murder mysteries weekend and we fee it’s an appropriate time of the year,” she said. “Dungarvan, like many places, has its tragedies and its unsolved mysteries and crimes. Murder is a recurring theme in storytelling, in folklore and unfortunately, in real life.”

The opening night looks at the Maam Trasna Murder Trial of the 1880s when the truth was “lost in translation” as native Irish speakers from Connemara stood trial in an English-speaking court. “We will discuss if the same could apply today to non-English speaking immigrants who find themselves in Irish courts in today’s justice system,” Ms Seó Breathnach said.

It includes a performance of a short excerpt from the trial by local actors and followed by the screening of the film Murdair Mhám Trasna in the SGC Cinema.

On day two, a subtitled documentary ‘The Missing Postman will be screened in the SGC Cinema, with a talk by Fachtna Ó Drisceoil, author of a book on the Christmas Day disappearance in 1920s of a Stradbally postman.

There is also a children’s storytelling session in the library with Máirín Mhic Lochlainn and a free, guided walking tour of the town on Saturday at noon, visiting sites of murders, hangings and other occurrences in the history of the town.

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