Like many young Irishwomen in the early 1900s, Rose McCann was awaiting news from a husband who was seeking a better life in America, intending to send for her and their son when he found a home for them.

Rose lived in a cottage on a farm at Badoney, near Trillick, County Tyrone, and on the afternoon of NOVEMBER 20th, 1902, she walked to Trillick to do some shopping. Her son was to meet her on her way home, to help her carry her purchases. He expected to see her by 5.30 p.m. when he was half-way to Trillick, but there was no sign of her so he carried on to the village. At the store he was told that she had left with her shopping at 5 p.m.

He returned home and alerted his neighbours, who launched a search for his mother. Shortly before 10 p.m. the light from their lanterns revealed signs of a struggle on the road to Trillick. Some broken biscuits lay in the lane, and one of the searchers found a button from Rose’s coat. Then her body was discovered in a nearby ditch, her head kicked to a pulp and with knife wounds in her face and neck. She had also been raped, and pools of blood on the road indicated where her killer had paused while dragging her to the ditch.

The police suspected Joseph Moan, a labourer at the farm where Rose rented her cottage. He had been drinking in Trillick on the afternoon in question, and he had been in the store while Rose was there doing her shopping. He had left with another man, saying he was going to visit a cousin, but the other man told the police that Moan had instead headed for Badoney. The witness had seen him set out on the road Rose had taken a few minutes earlier.

Moan was unable to account for his movements between 5 and 7 p.m., and when a knife in his possession was found to be bloodstained, he was charged with Rose’s murder. But the evidence against him was entirely circumstantial, and the first two juries who tried him were unable to agree a verdict. At his third trial, however, he was found guilty, and he was executed at Derry Prison on January 5th, 1904.