The Case of Honora Concannon One famous trial held in Co. Clare, reported in the Dublin Evening Post in July 1824, was that of Honora Concannon, a prostitute, for the murder of William Higgins, a beggar from Corofin in Co. Clare. The evidence against her was so strong that the Jury returned a verdict of guilty without leaving the box. Concannon was sentenced to death by hanging. She was placed with a rope around her neck after having severely bitten the executioner. She struggled relentlessly as she kicked and cursed those around her. When the drop fell, one of her legs remained on the frame until the executioner removed it with force…show more content… It was a vicious circle.
In an age virtually without police, the machinery of law was uncompromising and brutal. In total, 240 offences were punishable by death, and hanging was prescribed for accessories as well. Punishments ranged from standing in the pillory to branding and whipping to burning (for particularly shameful crimes, like treason). A number of 18th century theorists believed hanging was not punishment enough for felons and proposed, "breaking on the wheel" instead. In 1752, a law was passed that required "some further Terror and peculiar mark of Infamy be added to the Punishment of Death" for murder. The convicted murderer was to be kept on bread and water in a special cell, and after execution, his body was to hang in chains before the public, then go to the surgeons for dissection.
Juries were generally loath to convict people for property crimes, since the penalty of death seemed disturbingly harsh. In fact, many victims declined to pursue matters through the legal system out of a sheer unwillingness to see the perpetrators hanged for their offence. However, imprisonment was not considered a reasonable alternative to capital punishment, since it placed young criminals into contact with older, hard-bitten ones, encouraging partnerships. The ingenious idea of