Northern Irish councillor says last witches tried on island may have been actual witches




  • In US
  • 2022-11-24 14:55:43Z
  • By The Telegraph
Councillors in Larne are at odds over the wording of a plaque to be placed at the Gobbins Visitor Centre marking the witch trial in 1711
Councillors in Larne are at odds over the wording of a plaque to be placed at the Gobbins Visitor Centre marking the witch trial in 1711  

The last witches to be tried on the island of Ireland could have actually been guilty of witchcraft, a local councillor has said.

Eight women and a man were found guilty at the last witch trial in Ireland in Islandmagee on March 31 1711. They were put in stocks and jailed for a year.

Councillors in Larne, Northern Ireland, discussed the wording of a plaque to be placed at the Gobbins Visitor Centre in Islandmagee marking the trial.

A line declaring "Today the community recognises your innocence" was dropped after an intervention by Keith Turner, the Belfast Telegraph reported.

Mr Turner, an Ulster Unionist councillor, asked if the convicted nine were found innocent or guilty.

He said he was "all for tourism" but questioned if Mid and East Antrim Borough Council had the power to "overturn" the verdicts.

Use of word 'innocence' on plaque at issue

"There are no such thing as witches," said Alliance councillor Robert Logan, "How can you be accused of being a witch if there is no such thing as a witch?"

Mr Turner said that there was such a thing as being tried for being a witch until 1821, according to the Belfast Telegraph.

The controversy at the Larne council Borough Growth Committee is just the latest in a long-running saga over the alleged 18th-century witches.

The installation of the plaque was first approved in 2015 but faced objections from Jack McKee, who has since died.

McKee, a councillor for the hardline unionist TUV, was a born-again Christian and feared the plaque was "anti-God". He feared the plaque could become a "shrine to paganism".

He said at the time that he "could not tell whether or not the women had been rightly or wrongly convicted as he didn't have the facts and was not going to support devil worship".

The witch trial was held after Mary Dunbar, 18, showed signs of demonic possession including throwing Bibles, having fits near priests and vomiting household items such as pins, nails and wool.

Dunbar accused eight women of being witches and said they had attacked her in spectral form. When the women were arrested, a mob set upon them in an assault, which cost one of the accused an eye.

Janet Carson, Janet Latimer, Janet Main, Janet Millar, Janet Liston, Margaret Mitchell, Catherine McCalmond, Elizabeth Sellor and William Sellor were found guilty in 1711.

After they were released, they were ostracised by their community, despite their years of faithful attendance at church.

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