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Meet the Author - Margaret Kelleher Watch back a wonderful panel discussion from March 2020 at Glucksman Ireland House, NYU, with bestselling author of The Maamtrasna Murders Professor Margaret Kelleher, Colm Toibin, Maureen Murphy, and Carolyn Conaboy

The Maamtrasna Murders
Language, Life and Death in Nineteenth-Century Ireland

Margaret Kelleher (author)
Paperback / softback,
Publication date:
11th November 2018

Author Biography

Margaret Kelleher is Professor and Chair of Anglo-Irish Literature and Drama at UCD. Her books include The Feminization of Famine (1997), The Cambridge History of Irish Literature (2006), co-edited with Philip O'Leary, and Ireland and Quebec: Interdisciplinary Essays on History, Culture and Society (2016), co-edited with Michael Kenneally. From 2009 to 2016 she was Chairperson of the International Association for the Study of Irish Literatures.


The Maamtrasna Murders provides a cultural history of the events and subsequent impact of the renowned Maamtrasna murders from the perspective of language change in late nineteenth-century Ireland. Professor Kelleher takes the Maamtrasna case - one that is notorious for its failure to provide interpretation and translation services for monoglot Irish speakers - and examines broader sociolinguistic issues. Uncovering archival materials not previously consulted, this work illuminates a story that has proven to be much richer, `messier', and a more intricate social narrative than previous commentators have recognized.The Maamtrasna Murders moves Maamtrasna's violation of human rights from a local to a global stage. While the wrongful execution of monolingual Myles Joyce would prove to be the best-known feature of the case, the complex significance of language-use in an isolated region mirrors the dynamics that continue to influence the fates of monolingual and bilingual people today.