Annie Walshe faced the executioner insisting she was innocent, but the jury had decided otherwise, writes Denis O’Shaughnessy
The week-end edition of the Limerick Chronicle on October 25, 1924, carried a grim news item stating that a labourer, Edward Walshe, around sixty years of age, had been shot dead in his cottage at Carnane, Fedamore, the previous night. Three days later the paper announced that “a sensational sequel” to the shooting was that Walshe’s wife, Annie (30) and the deceased’s nephew Michael Talbot (23), had been taken into custody in connection with the death.
Even though the Civil War had ended the previous year, the country was still in turmoil, armed robberies being a regular occurrence. The same edition of the Chronicle carried a story of exhumation of the remains of two Clare Republicans who had been executed in Limerick Prison and had been buried in the King John’s Castle Barracks.
With firearms being freely available shootings were still common, and this latest outrage in Carnane was put down to another political vendetta. As the story enfolded, however, this was proved to a wrong assumption.
The inquest, under coroner Dr. P. J. Cleary, heard from Annie Walshe that her husband and herself were roused from their bed around midnight on the night of the killing by her husband’s nephew, Michael Talbot. They sat around the kitchen table conversing in a normal manner for some time, and then Michael Talbot told her (witness) to turn around and he struck Edward Walshe, knocking him across the hearth.
He then produced a revolver and shot the deceased in the head. It was seven the next morning before she had the courage to go to the Garda Station to report the murder.
Medical evidence, however, refuted the shooting allegation as Dr. Hederman of Croom said that there were two fractured wounds of the head, either of which would be sufficient to cause death. These were evidently cased by a blunt instrument.
The jury returned a verdict of death due to shock and haemorrhage, as a result of the injuries described by Dr. Hederman, and which had been violently inflicted. They were unable to agree as to who caused the death.
Sergt. McGrath, Fedamore, gave evidence that Mrs. Walshe arrived at the barracks early Saturday morning and stated her husband had been shot by Michael Talbot. When the Civic Guards went to the house they found Edward Walshe lying across the fireplace.
He was then dead.