The small town of Carlingford in County Louth is the scene of some of the most bizarre events witnessed for a long time. Pickets were held at the quaint courthouse in the town over the weekend as a community was spilt over the upcoming retrial of Thomas Darcy Mc Gees murder – which took place 145 years ago!
The citizens of Carlingford finally secured a retrial of Thomas Darcy Magee’s murderer James Whelan at a special sitting in Carlingford Courthouse scheduled for Tuesday 20th August.
This follows a 45 year old campaign to have Mc Gees murder trial revised and finally investigate doubts about whether the convicted Irishman, James Patrick Whelan was actually guilty of the crime. Whelan always maintained his innocence and questions are still raised about whether he was used as a’ patsy’ to quell the outcry expressed at the time of Mc Gees killing. Thomas Darcy Mc Gees funeral procession in Montreal drew an estimated crowd of 80,000 (out of a total city population of 105,000).
One of Carlingford’s beloved sons, Mc Gee, an Irish Nationalist, Catholic spokesman, journalist, and a father of The Canadian Confederation, was gunned down on the steps of the Canadian Parliament in 1868.
Following the hundredth anniversary gathering of his death in 1968, a movement began to finally and decisively find out who slayed Irish born Mc Gee.
Remarkably, in February this year, the Ontario Court of Appeal scheduled a retrial of the murderer James Patrick Whelan to take place in Ottawa on the 20th August at 2.30pm by proxy. Although this unprecedented decision was welcomed by Mc Gee enthusiasts, the original aim was always to get an Irish hearing for its native son.
An agreement for an Irish trial was reached when the group sourced historical legislation and claimed international rights for Mc Gee to have the case heard in his own native home, The group also engineered to have the courthouse in Carlingford opened specially for the case.
Justice Michael j Moldaver, a supreme judge in the Court of Appeal for Ontario is expected to attend the hearing but will not reside. Judge Modaver while in practice, specialised in criminal law and is said to have personal interest in the Mc Gee case. The Canadian Ambassador to Ireland Mr. Loyola Hearn will also be in attendance.
The astonishing events have rekindled some of the controversy and outrage over Whelan’s conviction and subsequent execution. Questions about his guilt continue to be voiced, as his trial was supposedly “marred” by political interference, dubious legal procedures, allegations of bribing witnesses, easily discredited testimony. Many people believe that he was a scapegoat for a Protestant plot with the trial being heard by a non catholic jury. Patrick Whelans was the last public hanging of Canada.
Supporters of Whelan’s conviction met outside the courthouse on Friday and began to picket against the retrial but were met by the Mc Gee enthusiasts who are determined to get his case reheard. Significant Garda presence is expected on the day of the retrial, as huge crowds attempt to fill the small courthouse to witness the most sensational trial that has happened for a very long time.