Two brothers hired as hit-men were told by their paymaster, William McGrath, 27: “I want you to kill my brother Richard. He’s inherited some land on the banks of the River Barrow, left by my late father, and it should be mine by rights. I’ll pay you £100.”

The brothers, Edward, and James Aylward, aged 46 and 23 respectively, shook hands on the deal, and went to the home of Richard McGrath in County Carlow. To lure him away they told him that a woman he had always fancied was now prepared to marry him. He was never seen alive again. Several days later his body was pulled out of the River Barrow. He had been suffocated.

The Aylward brothers and William McGrath were all convicted of murder when they appeared at Carlow Assizes on July 5th, 1837. Edward Aylward and McGrath were hanged outside Carlow Prison on Thursday, July 27th, 1837, while the younger Aylward was spared the noose.

Edward Aylward’s execution was the first under the new Queen’s reign, and was badly botched. First the rope slipped off the beam and he fell through the drop. Dazed and injured, he was pulled up, and the noose was put around his neck again. When the lever was pulled for the second time, the drop proved to be too short, and he took two minutes to die in extreme agony.