By C.A. Sarsfield

In the Old Testament in Deuteronomy, Chapter 21, Verse 22-23, states that “if a man has committed a crime punishable by death, and he is put to death, and you hang him on a tree, but you shall bury him in the same day, for a hanged man is accused by God, you shall not defile your land which the Lord your God gives you for an inheritance’.

Quite a statement, and all very well if the accused is guilty of the crime, but what if the person condemned to die at the hands of the executioner was innocent? One possible innocent man who faced the hangman was a young man called Tom Dooley, a handsome young Confederate soldier from Happy Valley, North Carolina, who loved nothing better than singing songs and playing his banjo.

Having survived many battles without so much as a scratch during the four years of fighting. Tom, like a lot of others returning from the war, found that life as he knew it before the conflict had gone forever, and events were about to make him wish that he had never survived at all.

Before going off to fight in a war that he did not fully understand, Tom had been toying with the affections of Laura Foster and her cousin Ann Foster, both of whom were considered to be very pretty and sought after by all the young men of the parish.

Despite all this attention, they only had eyes for the good looking Tom, being totally infatuated with him. Tom, being a healthy young man, was quite happy to allow both young girls to chase him, and managed somehow to divide his time equally between them, becoming intimate with Ann three months before heading off to fight.

Continue reading in this week’s Ireland’s Own