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Kirkintilloch Town and Parish
Dennis Doolan and Patrick Redding


Were two Irishmen, who were executed at Bishopbriggs for murder on 14th May, 1841.

Although not properly connected with Kirkintilloch, the tragedy took place so near, the men were so well known, and the excitement was so great, that a short statement of the affair is appropriate. A good many of the fellow-workmen of the actors lived in the town. Dennis Doolan had lodged in it, and the author remembers seeing a troop of Hussars— who had stayed overnight—marching along the Cowgate en route for the scene of execution.

The navvies employed in making the Edinburgh and Glasgow Railway were nearly all Irish, and members of “the United Hibernian Labourers.” A man called Green, an Englishman, was a foreman or “ganger” over a squad of men. He had discharged a brother of Dennis Doolan, and Dennis, along with Redding, and a third man called Hickie, met together overnight, and resolved to give Green a severe beating, although without any proved intention at that time of killing him. It was arranged that Hickie provide weapons for the other two, and that Doolan should strike the first blow, and Redding was to follow it up with a second. Hickie procured two short iron bars, one of which he gave to each of the others.

In the early morning Doolan and Redding went out with the iron bars concealed up their sleeves, and met Green, who spoke to them, and then leaned over the rail of a bridge looking at the workmen engaged underneath. Doolan came behind him and felled him to the ground by a stroke on the head, Redding giving him a second blow on the head while he was lying, one or both of which blows killed the poor man.

Green was buried in the Old Aisle, and the three men were apprehended and tried for murder. Hickie received a transportation pardon, but the other two, both Irish Ribbon-men, were left for execution, to be hung on the spot where the murder was committed. The united labourers on the line, 10,000 in number, made no secret of their intention to rescue the prisoners, and it was known that many thousands in Glasgow sympathised with these sentiments. On the other hand, the public, who were horrified at the brutality of the murder, were earnest in support of the law being enforced.

The authorities resolved to provide sufficient strength to have this done, and the military told off for the execution numbered 600 cavalry, and 1,200 infantry, with two guns. The scaffold was sent from Glasgow the day before, and protected all night by a strong guard of infantry.

The two criminals were taken from the jail in Glasgow in presence of about 200,000 spectators, who maintained a profound silence, only the tramping of the horses being heard The men were seated on an open carriage with a priest and the hangman, the latter muffled to the ears, and two coffins were also on the carriage.

The crowd that accompanied the cortege to Bishopbriggs was so great that in going out they spread themselves on either side of the road to a distance of a quarter of a mile, advancing abreast of the carriages with great quietness. At least 150,000 persons were present at the execution, which passed over without disturbance.

In returning to Glasgow the behaviour of the crowd was very different from that in going out—the noise of talking, singing, and shouting was so great that the officers in command could not be heard by their men.


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