“The Execution of Michael Fagan”


Joe Brady and Dan Curley have been executed. Michael Fagan is to be executed at Kilmainham Jail. "That vile informer Carey ... In high renown in some foreign town" will be followed by the widow's curse. Fagan bids friends adieu and prays God for mercy


Zimmermann p. 62: "The Phoenix Park murders and their judicial sequels struck the popular imagination and were a gold-mine for ballad-writers: some thirty songs were issued on this subject, which was the last great cause to be so extensively commented upon in broadside ballads."

Zimmermann p. 28 is a fragment; broadside Bodleian Harding B 26(366) is the basis for the description. - BS

Historical references

  • The Phoenix Park murders (source: primarily Zimmermann, pp. 62, 63, 281-286.)
  • May 6, 1882 - Chief Secretary Lord Frederick Cavendish and the Under Secretary Thomas Henry Burke are murdered by a group calling themselves "The Invincible Society."
  • January 1883 - twenty seven men are arrested.
  • James Carey, one of the leaders in the murders, turns Queen's evidence.
  • Six men are condemned to death, four are executed (Joseph Brady is hanged May 14, 1883; Daniel Curley is hanged on May 18, 1883), others are "sentenced to penal servitude," and Carey is freed and goes to South Africa.
  • July 29, 1883 - Patrick O'Donnell kills Carey on board the "Melrose Castle" sailing from Cape Town to Durban.
  • Dec 1883 - Patrick O'Donnell is convicted of the murder of James Carey and executed in London (per Leach-Labrador)

Cross references

  • cf. "The Phoenix Park Tragedy" (subject: the Phoenix Park murders) and references there


  • Bodleian, Harding B 26(366), "Lines Written on the Execution of Michl. Fagan" ("Thrice has the English hangman sailed thro' Dublin bay"), unknown, n.d.


  1. Zimmermann, p. 28, "Lines Written on the Execution of Michael Fagan" (1 fragment)
  2. BI, BrdExMiF


Author: unknown
Earliest date: 1966 (Zimmermann)
Found in: Ireland