Few capital trials generated more heat in the annals of British crime than those held during the great Irish famine of the mid-19th century. And few of those exceeded that of Bryan Seery for sheer anger and frustration.

The facts were that among the dozens of assassination attempts of that period, someone tried to murder Sir Francis Hopkins, a resident landlord and leading loyalist. Sir Francis, who lived at Tudenham, four miles outside Mullingar, claimed that Seery, a young Republican, was the would-be assassin.

Seery said he wasn’t, and on the scaffold on Friday, February 13th, 1846, swore “in the presence of God before whom I must shortly appear for judgment” that he never fired at Sir Francis, nor, he added, was he involved in any plot to do so.

There were many concerns about Seery’s conviction. He was a man of impeccable reputation and after the jury failed to agree at his first trial for the attempted murder, another jury was empanelled the very next day to hear widely contradictory evidence, during which, it was said, Sir Francis changed his mind about significant facts in the case.