Remarks on the Literature of T M Donovan, Castleisland

T M Donovan, Castleisland’s prolific author of the early twentieth century, published his first book, A Popular History of East Kerry in 1931.  The Two Mothers appeared in 1933.[1]   In the intervening year, God’s Glorious Universe was published.  It first appeared as a series of articles in the Kerryman from about March to May…Continue Reading

Poff and Barrett: Global Search for Justice

Sylvester Poff and James Barrett, hanged on 23 January 1883 for the murder of Thomas Browne of Dromultan, Co Kerry, rest not.  Their Dying Declarations of innocence speak to us still, and from new documents acquired by the O’Donohoe Collection, it is shown that their protestations of innocence were uttered to their very last breaths.…Continue Reading

Poff’s Farm: Recollections of Michael Marshall, formerly of Mountnicholas

Sylvester Poff, who with James Barrett was hanged on 23 January 1883 for the murder of Thomas Browne, was evicted from his farm at Mountnicholas, Co Kerry, in 1881.  The dwelling house was demolished at the time of the eviction but the foundations remained.   About twenty years later, the farm was sold by the…Continue Reading

John Twiss of Castleisland: A ‘Pure Brave Soul’

John Twiss of Cordal, Castleisland, was arrested in April 1894 for the murder of James Donovan at Glenlara, Co Cork, and the police subsequently sought evidence against him.  This circumstance was remarked on by Jeremy Dein and Sasha Wass, the barristers who recently investigated the case for the documentary, Murder Mystery and My Family.  …Continue Reading

Poff and Barrett: Last Words

The most remarkable fact in connection with the case is that both the men, though in separate cells, without any communication with each other, protested all through, and above all, at the last supreme moment, their absolute innocence. Derry Journal, 26 January 1883 In 1919, it was remarked that ‘Tralee Gaol contains the calcined remains…Continue Reading

Poff and Barrett: Caught in the Crossfire

Murder never goes unavenged, the blood of the murdered cries to Heaven for vengeance – George Raymond, BL, for Mrs Browne About one week before William Marwood, the executioner, arrived in Tralee to begin erecting the gallows on which Sylvester Poff and James Barrett would die, two appeals were submitted to the Lord Lieutenant of…Continue Reading

Poff and Barrett: The Testimony of Bridget Brosnan

‘The case should stand or fall on the evidence of Bridget Brosnan’1 On the day after Sylvester Poff and James Barrett were hanged in Tralee prison for the murder of Thomas Browne, a reporter remarked that it was ‘a matter for note’ that Mrs Brosnan, one of the chief witnesses at the trial, swore at…Continue Reading

Poff and Barrett: Final Hours

‘A universal belief in the innocence of the prisoners prevails in this county’ On Tuesday 23 January 1883, the day of the execution of Sylvester Poff and James Barrett, the shops in Castleisland remained closed all day, as a mark of sympathy with the condemned men.  The situation was the same in Tralee, the town…Continue Reading