The finding of two dead babies within the space of a fortnight in County Kerry in 1984 is an extraordinary story that rocked Catholic Ireland. The Kerry Babies Case is still unresolved, with many unanswered questions. Did Joanne Hayes have twins? Did the Gardai - the Irish police - intimidate her family into confessing their involvement in the murder of one of the babies? The Tribunal which examined the case largely exonerated the Gardai and blamed the family, yet as a result of the case the Murder Squad was disbanded and a Garda Complaints Board established. Tom Inglis, in his detailed analysis of the case, explains that it is obviously important to retell the story because justice might not have been done. But he goes further to explain how the case is an important part of understanding how the second half of 20th-century Ireland saw a transition from a traditional, rural, conservative and Catholic society to the modern, urban, liberal and secular one which is emerging today. In particular, the case represents a watershed for the position of women in Irish society: many were motivated to protest for the first time.
Telling stories - truth is stranger than fiction
preparing the case against the hayes family
the Hayes family story
the garda's story
blaming the Hayes family
explaining the false confessions
long-term processes of change
honour and shame
policing the state
- survey results.
"Tom Inglis' book ... is simply a tour de force, I read it in one sitting with mounting appreciation for a wonderful and detailed bit of writing. It is the kind of book that gives sociology a good name ... Do read this book."
Books Ireland April 2004
"Through his thoughtful analysis of documents, Inglis opens possibilities foreclosed by the official government reports and challenges us to think about the precariousness of both truth and democracy."
American Journal of Sociology 2005
"an empathetic and articulate testament to a society that destroyed its weakest, a passionate and intelligent exposure of the boundaries by which we continue to construct our state and selves."
Irish Studies Review 13 (4) 2005
"Inglis demonstrates a remarkable knowledge of Irish social and cultural history that he employs to good effect and he also skilfully uses comparative data from other societies. An excellent and illuminating study."
British Journal of Criminology 46 May 2006