In his youth County Antrim-born John MacNaghten was captivated by the elegance and gaiety of 18th-century Dublin. But his involvement in the social whirl of the city developed into a taste for extravagant living and a passion for gambling that was to prove his ruin. Having squandered his inheritance, MacNaghten was on the brink of despair when Andrew Knox of Prehen House, Derry, offered him the hospitality of his home and his family. Unwittingly Knox had invited the horrible events that would in the end claim the life of his 15-year-old daughter, Mary Anne, after a failed abduction attempt by MacNaghten. Whether her killing was indeed a crime of passion, cold-blooded murder or a tragic accident is closely examined.
The story also recounts the background to the abduction and describes MacNaghtens arrest, trial and bizarre execution. Ironically, his final wish that he should not be referred to as Half-Hanged MacNaghten immortalized his name in the folk history of the Northwest. This account attempts to elicit the facts from the folklore and explain why the legend continues to exercise such a tenacious grip on local imagination.
ISBN 0 946451 23 0
Published March 1993, softback, 52pp, 210mm (tall) x 148mm