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The Killing of Major Denis Mahon: A Mystery of Old Ireland
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The Killing of Major Denis Mahon: A Mystery of Old Ireland

3.18  ·  Rating Details  ·  67 Ratings  ·  22 Reviews
The Killing of Major Denis Mahon is the riveting true story of a controversial murder that casts new light on the Great Irish Famine. At the height of the famine now considered the greatest social disaster to strike nineteenth-century Europe, Anglo-Irish landlord Major Denis Mahon from County Roscommon was assassinated as he drove his carriage through his property, which w ...more
Hardcover, 384 pages
Published October 9th 2007 by Harper (first published October 1st 2007)
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Apr 26, 2016 Matt rated it it was ok
Recommends it for: Potato lovers/potato haters
Shelves: true-crime
Ten pounds of potatoes a day. According to this book, that's the input of your average Irish person. Astounding. I actually don't/can't believe it. When I told my coworkers, they called me a liar. I said I read it in a book.

Other than that, I did not enjoy this reading experience. As the title implies - er, as the title expressly states - this is about the murder (from ambush!) of Denis Mahon, a Roscommon County landlord. The book's not really a murder mystery, because they convicted some fello
Feb 10, 2011 Luke rated it really liked it
"The Killing of Major Dennis Mahon" covers a well-worn period of Irish history, the famine and agrarian "outrages" of secret societies. At the time, a media-sensation swirled around the murder, inquest and trial that stretched from County Roscommon (near the epicenter of the famine in Connaught) to the media organs of Dublin and London. Duffy's treatment is eminently readable, and highlights the peculiarity of the event's durability as something wonky and irreducible to contemporary/modern minds ...more
Mar 17, 2009 MBP rated it really liked it
A fascinating story of the murder of a landlord at the height of the potato famine; could have been more skilfully told. It drags at times as the author quotes (and re-quotes) extensively from personal correspondence, then skims over the trial of the accused killers. I've read similarly structured books, where the author uses a specific case to look at the history and issues of the time, that have been better written. Still, this one will probably stick with me for a long time: I keep thinking o ...more
Apr 25, 2010 Mlg rated it really liked it
Shelves: non-fiction
Duffy's book about a real murder of Irish landlord Major Denis Mahon, is used to explore the deaths of hundreds of thousands of poor Irish people during the great potato famine of the late 1840's. The depiction of the cruelty that the Irish people suffered at the hands of their "landlords" is horrific. Duffy's estimates suggest as many as three million people disappeared, either through emigration or starvation.
The most interesting part of the book were the ships who brought the sick, starving
Jun 20, 2009 Rob rated it liked it
Shelves: ireland, history
An interesting look into the Irish potato famine with the story following one particular family estate (Mahon). The book shares a lot of information about this devasting period in Ireland and the British reaction. The author leverages handwritten letters and newspaper clippings from the mid 1800s to frame the storyline.

A neat way to re-visit history, but it was not a real life murder-mystery like the book jacket might lead to believe. The death of Major Mahon is the focus, but no surprises or pl
Jan 28, 2014 Lisa rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I supposed I would have appreciated this book more if it had actually been more about the Irish Potato Famine, and less about the murder of Denis Mahon. There's a lot of interesting information here about the circumstances that led to the murder, but the primary focus of the book was on the crime, which I felt could have been covered in about half the pages.
Mar 19, 2015 Kathleen rated it liked it
Detailed telling of a murder, a series of trials and a genocide. I had to read this in the month of St Patrick's, when awareness of Irish heritage is at its peak.
Pat Carter
Dec 17, 2015 Pat Carter rated it liked it
Ireland in the 1840's. A truly tragic time for tenants, and to lesser degree the landowners.
Margaret Sankey
Feb 20, 2012 Margaret Sankey rated it really liked it
In an absorbing microhistory, Duffy uses the shooting of Mahon, a landlord in 1847 County Roscommon to examine the catastrophic effects of the Potato Famine and the mass removal of tenants, as well as the international attention that followed the investigation. The ample records of the trial allow for a dissection of the entire community, from Mahon's extended elite social network to the diaspora of Irish peasants moved out on "coffin ships" for America.
Nov 04, 2008 Donald rated it liked it
If you're into Irish history, then this book will interest you to no end. While it is centered around the killing of one Major Denis Mahon, a landlord who had to deal with the great potato famine, it is more generally a look at the beginnings of the modern Irish "state" through those times that threatened to break Ireland. I am simply not that interested in that time, so I found it to be, while well-written and documented, rather boring.
Mar 02, 2008 Chip rated it really liked it
Duffy's research paints a vivid picture of the events leading up to and during the Irish Potato famine of the 1840's. He follows an upperclass family's string of patriarchs, their choices in managing their land and the consequences of those decisions. It gives a good historical perspective that is not only relevant to the Irish, but to North Americans who assimilated the famine refugees. It is a good historical read.
Jan 30, 2011 Polly rated it really liked it
Good solid research presented by a pretty good writer. I'm not sure anything is really solved here, but it's worth a read if you happen to be interested in this kind of thing ("for people who like this sort of thing, this is the sort of thing they will like").
Jul 28, 2009 Kim rated it it was ok
For a topic that has always fascinated me - Ireland during the Famine - This book was a real slog. A few bits where I could stay focused and interested, but mostly I finished it because I felt I should.
Feb 04, 2012 Diane rated it really liked it
Complex but very informative; I had a hard time getting into it and then I couldn't put it down. I learned a great deal about the Irish Potato famine and the political upheaval of that time.
Mar 17, 2009 Laurel rated it liked it
I learned a lot about the Irish Potato Famine from this book. The book reads like a dissertation. Duffy packed in so many facts; they reduced some of the emotional impact of the tragedy.
Mar 18, 2008 Rosemary rated it liked it
Interesting history of the Irish Famine through the murder of one man. It's a little too dry for me-I would have preferred more real people stories.
Apr 21, 2009 Laurie rated it did not like it
This was very hard to get through but I learned a little about the potatoe famine in Ireland and a lot of history.
Jim Noyes
May 15, 2011 Jim Noyes rated it really liked it
very interesting read, lots of background, recommend to anyone interested in the Irish emmigration to North America.
Nov 09, 2010 Tobi rated it it was ok
Not exactly what I thought it was going to be. A very in depth history and a little bit plodding and repeatitive.
Mar 15, 2011 Bhan13 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Although the cover looks like it's fiction it's not, and is the best book I've read about the Famine.
Sep 02, 2011 John rated it it was amazing
A great book for those interested in Irish history during the famine years.
Why do the Irish hate the English? Read this book!
Hello rated it did not like it
Jun 02, 2016
joy a winters
joy a winters rated it it was ok
May 24, 2016
Sue marked it as to-read
May 14, 2016
Chris O'Brien
Chris O'Brien marked it as to-read
May 14, 2016
Alicia Dixon
Alicia Dixon marked it as to-read
May 12, 2016
David Sandager
David Sandager marked it as to-read
May 11, 2016
Caroline marked it as to-read
Apr 30, 2016
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