On the night of 29–30 October 1816 eight people were murdered by burning to death in a house known as Wildgoose Lodge in a remote part of County Louth, four miles from Ardee, nine miles from Dundalk and four miles from Carickmacross in County Monaghan. The perpetrators, who all belonged to a local agrarian secret society, were avenging three of their comrades hanged for a raid on the Lodge the previous April. Following the murders, the local community closed ranks. For months the authorities failed to arrest anyone. Then the state administration – in the form of Sir Robert Peel and Dublin Castle – took over. As a result of a combination of collusion, corruption and the use of paid informers, eighteen local men were tried and hanged. At least half of these men were innocent.
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