The Queen v Patrick O’ Donnell – Seán Ó Cuirreáin


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Patrick O’Donnell achieved the status of a national hero when he killed Ireland’s most infamous informer James Carey on board a steamship off the coast of South Africa in 1883. Why did the quiet-spoken labourer from the Donegal Gaeltacht shoot the leading Fenian in the Phoenix Park murders? And why did the President of the United States of America and the French writer Victor Hugo plead that Patrick O’Donnell not be hanged for his crime?

Drawing extensively on court transcripts, official records from archives in Ireland, Britain, South Africa and America and many other sources, The Queen v Patrick O'Donnell reveals for the first time the full story behind one of the most compelling murder stories in Irish history, a thrilling tale of violence, courtroom drama, romance and political intrigue. Containing evidence from British Home Office files kept secret for 100 years, this account reveals shocking new information about the fate of Patrick O’Donnell.


This book provides the basis for a major feature-length drama documentary for TG4 also entitled The Queen –v – Patrick O’Donnell to be transmitted later this year/early next year.

Seán Ó Cuirreáin
is a former journalist and broadcaster who worked primarily in news and current affairs. He served as deputy head of RTÉ Raidió na Gaeltachta prior to being appointed as Ireland’s first Language Commissioner (2004-2014). His book Éagóir [Injustice] (Cois Life, 2016) on the Maamtrasna Murders and the subsequent drama-documentary Murdair Mhám Trasna (TG4, 2018) contributed to the process which led to the posthumous presidential pardon for Maolra Seoighe/ Myles Joyce who was wrongly convicted and hanged for those murders. A graduate of NUIG, Seán Ó Cuirreáin is originally from the Donegal Gaeltacht but has lived in the Gaeltacht in Galway for many years. He was appointed a member of the Council of State by President Michael D. Higgins in April 2019.

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