Vol. 11: Garnham, Neal.

Type: Article

Garnham, Neal. ‘The Short Career of Paul Farrell: A Brief Consideration of Law Enforcement in Eighteenth-Century Dublin’, Eighteenth-century Ireland/Iris an dá chultúr, Vol. 11 (1996), pp 46-52.

Dublin in the early 1730s was a city experiencing many difficulties: famine threatened, the textile industry was in depression, and angry weavers and tradesmen clashed with troops and police on the city streets. The situation was aggravated by corruptions within the system: “Magistrates and constables were accused of demanding excessive fees, inciting various crimes, and arbitrarily imprisoning innocent citizens.” On 22 August 1734, constable Paul Farrell was brutally murdered by an angry mob in the Coombe area of Dublin. In the five years prior to his death, Farrell was successful in the apprehension of numerous thieves, and evidence suggests that he may have been involved a large arrest of some ‘riotous weavers’. During this same period, while serving the Lord Mayor, Farrell was arrested for robbery on numerous occasions and once convicted of assault. According to Garnham, “The life, and death, of Paul Farrell serve to illustrate at least two of the problems that attended the policing of mid-eighteenth century Dublin”: a corrupt police force and ‘the impotence of authority in the face of a determined crowd’.