The Irish Assassins: Retelling of Phoenix Park murders a compelling blend of political history and true crime

Journalist Julie Kavanagh’s account of the murders of two members of the British authority in Ireland in 1882 has the plot and intrigue of a sweeping 19th-century novel

An illustration published in Le Monde in 1882 of the murder of Lord Frederick Charles Cavendish and Thomas Henry Burke in Phoenix Park. Picture: Hulton Archive/Getty Images


The Irish Assassins: Conspiracy, Revenge and the Murders that Stunned an Empire

By Julie Kavanagh

Grove Press UK, €16.99

When British prime minister William Gladstone made Lord Frederick Cavendish chief secretary of Ireland in May 1882, the Home Rule Party was not particularly impressed. Even though Cavendish had married Gladstone’s niece and was effectively the old man’s surrogate son, most observers regarded him as a political lightweight. “By the God of heaven,” exclaimed the ...