15 March 1766 – Nicholas Sheehy

Amid the bleak years of the Irish potato famine, Catholic priest, Nicholas Sheehy stood up to British rule and the unfair way in which tenants were evicted from their lands.

His outspoken defence of his fellow man led to the Brits slapping a hefty price on his head – a whopping £300 in old money…or enough to buy two second-hand Xboxes on eBay to you.

Good times

Obviously not wanting to be chased round by a load of Boba Fett wannabes, he handed himself in on the proviso that he was tried in Dublin. His wish was granted and as luck would have it Sheehy was acquitted of the treason for which he stood charge.

However, you wouldn’t be reading this here today if it was that easy, and those dastardly authorities slapped a murder charge on him before he’d even had a chance to celebrate.

Bad times

He was apparently accused of killing an informer, one John Bridge and a whole heap of fabricated evidence, false testimonies and dodgy witnesses emerged. Stitched up good and proper, and with no fighting chance of a reprieve, Sheehy resigned himself to his fate.

Sheehy was found guilty and sentenced to be hanged, drawn and quartered – a sentence carried out at Clonmel on this day, in 1766.

When his severed head was skewered on to a spike, legend tells that even the birds wouldn’t peck at his remains out of respect.

After 10 years on display, or even 20 according to some reports, what was left of Sheehy’s head was handed to his sister (she must have been delighted!), who lovingly laid it to rest with all his other decaying bits and pieces.

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