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crownLegend of Mayor Lynch

Lynch StreetscapeIn the mid 17th century the catholic wardens and vicars of the collegiate church of St. Nicholas in Galway kept an ancient book in which were recorded important events in the history of the town. In 1674 a Spanish priest, Fr. De Ayora arrived in Galway to investigate and trace the pedigree of a Lynch cleric who was being appointed to a distinguished academic post in Spain. He recorded that while in Galway he was shown the ancient book of St. Nicholas and that he extracted from it some accounts relating to the Lynch family. One of these accounts related to the story or legend of Mayor Lynch and his son.

In the late 15th century a Galway Mayor named James Lynch sent his son on a voyage to Spain in order to collect a cargo of wine. Young Lynch was made captain of one of his fatherís ships and entrusted with a large sum of money for the purpose. However, due to reasons unknown, a large part of this money went missing and Lynch was forced to avail of his fatherís credit in order to secure the merchandise and for a time conceal the deficiency. The Spanish merchant who supplied him on the occasion sent his nephew to accompany Lynch on his return to Galway to receive payment and establish further correspondence.

During the home voyage, Lynch became extremely worried knowing that his father would soon be made aware of the embezzlement on arrival to Galway. He conceived a plan to murder the young Spaniard having brought the crew over to his purpose by fear and promises of reward. One night half way through the journey the unfortunate Spaniard was seized from his bed and thrown overboard. On arrival to Galway the Mayor received his son with joy and shortly afterwards set him up in business.

Lynch WindowAfter some time young Lynch sensed the danger of discovery had passed and had even planned to marry. However one of the sailors who had been on the ill-fated voyage was taken seriously ill and on his deathbed sent for Mayor Lynch. The dying man told the Mayor of the events which had taken place on board the ship. The Mayor, enraged by this act of murder, confronted his son who eventually admitted his guilt. It was now left to his father to seek justice for the murder for if not public disgrace awaited him. The Mayor, who also acted as magistrate, convicted his own son and sentenced him to death. Even though the Mayor was solicited to reprieve his son, he would not go back on his decision and his condemned son was to become a sacrifice to public justice.

On the fateful morning it seems that the Mayor, son and bailiffs were unable to reach the site of execution because a large crowd had gathered to prevent the hanging. The attempt to pass the crowd was hopeless so the mayor, still holding his son, turned back and entered his own house nearby. On reaching an upper window overlooking the street he fastened a rope around his sonís neck, secured the other end and launched him from the window hanging him in full view of the crowd assembled below.

It is believed that the original Lynch house was located somewhere on Market Street. The Lynch memorial structure was built in the mid 19th century as a monument to the Lynch hanging and is a built facade containing a mixture of late 15th to early 17th century architectural features. The large window is said to have come from the original Lynch house.

Some people believe that the word Lynching originated with the story of the Lynch hanging of Galway in the late 15th century.


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