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Saturday, October 27, 2012

Michael Manning

Michael Manning was a 25-year-old carter from Limerick who on Tuesday 20 April 1954 (the day after the Easter Monday holiday), became the 24th and last person (after the amnesty granted by the State at the end of the Irish Civil War in November 1924) to be executed in the Republic of Ireland.

He had been found guilty the previous February of the rape and murder of Catherine Cooper, a 65-year-old nurse, who worked at Barrington's Hospital in the city.

The execution by hanging was carried out in Mountjoy Prison, Dublin by Albert Pierrepoint, who had travelled from Britain where he was one of three Senior Executioners. A fellow inmate of Manning's recalled later, "Friends of mine who worked with me, I was serving my time at the time, went up to visit him on the Sunday before he was hanged. And they went to mass and holy communion together and they played a game of handball that day. He couldn't have been more normal."

Manning's body was buried in an unmarked grave in a yard at Mountjoy Prison.

The death penalty was abolished in 1964 for all but the murder of gardaí, diplomats and prison officers. It was abolished by statute for these remaining offences in 1990 and was finally expunged from the Constitution of Ireland by a referendum in 2001.

The hanging of Michael Manning inspired a play by Ciaran Creagh. Creagh's father, Timothy, was one of the two prison officers who stayed with Michael Manning on his last night and Last Call is loosely based on what happened. It was shown in Mountjoy Prison's theatre for three nights in June 2006.

Beneath Cannock's Clock: The Last Man Hanged in Ireland

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