For a long time no one knew exactly why farmer John Moylan, of Clonboo, County Galway, was murdered. He was out walking with his wife in December 1883, when four men approached him. “Is your name Burke?” one of them asked. Moylan didn’t reply, so he was shot dead on the spot. His wife threw herself weeping over his lifeless body.

The police believed that the man who fired the gun, Michael Downey, was having an affair with Mrs. Moylan. Downey, on the other hand, claimed that the four men had orders from the Republican movement to assassinate a man named Browne, who they mistakenly believed was Moylan. Although he admitted he was one of the four, he said he didn’t fire the gun anyway.

The confusion spread to successive juries, for Downey was tried three times before being found guilty. The third jury got it right, because on the eve of his execution Downey admitted the murder. He added that the Republican story was a ruse, and that Mrs. Moylan had played no part in the murder.

His clandestine affair with the farmer’s wife was brought to an end on Friday, January 16th, 1885, when executioner James Berry hanged him at Galway Prison.