I Declare Before My God by Jack Kiernan
– twin tales of 19th century miscarriages of justice, in Ireland and Australia –
I Declare Before My God: The Brian and James Seery Story is the latest offering from author and historian, Jack Kiernan. In it, he introduces us to not one but, two tales of 19th century miscarriages of justice.
The accounts relate to quite separate incidents and events that happened 24 years apart and, even on different continents. However, what draws them together is that they involved the deaths of a father and a son, both convicted and sentenced to hang in questionable circumstances, based on evidence that would hardly hold sway in the courts of Ireland or Australia of today.
Brian Seery was executed in Ireland on 13 February 1846, outside Mullingar Gaol, having been charged and found guilty of the attempted murder of Sir Francis Hopkins, a local landlord. This was in spite of what a contemporary observer (the author, Charles Dickens) described as, “extremely questionable evidence and his own persistent protestations of innocence.”
As Seery stood on the gallows, while raising his crucifix, he said in a calm, loud and steady tone, with an emphasis of awful and terrible solemnity:
I declare before my God that I had neither act, hand, part or knowledge in the crime for which I am going to die here!– from I Declare Before My God: The Brian and James Seery Story by Jack Kiernan, published 2019
When Brian Seery died, he left behind a wife and a young family of five, including a son, James, who would later move to Australia, finding work in the goldfields of the Gippsland region of Victoria. Charged and found guilty of the murder and mutilation of a fellow mineworker, he was sentenced to death and executed on 14 November 1870, aged just 33 years. However, many questions surround the circumstances and the evidence provided that led to death of James Seery, just like in the case of his father before him.
Once again, Jack Kiernan carefully assembles the available evidence in a manner that lets the reader decide while, at the same time, leaving no doubt as to the view that he takes. He also offers a stinging critique of the prevailing colonial mindsets and Ascendancy attitudes of the time, which resulted in so many travesties of justice.
Jack Kiernan is an author and investigative historian who specialises in cold cases, murder mysteries and miscarriages of justice. Previously published books include Is It Me? The Joseph Heffernan Story (2014) and Why Did They Lie? The Irish Civil War, the Truth, Where and When it Began (2018). He lives and works in Mullingar, the town where he was born and raised. He is a retired Irish Army serviceman and former National Welfare Officer with PDFORRA.
I Declare Before My God by Jack Kiernan is published under the imprint of The Manuscript Publisher and is on sale now. It is available to buy online from the websites of the author and the publisher, as well as certain bookshops.