Second John Twiss TV Documentary on BBC One on Friday Morning

John Twiss Documentary Filming at Hughes Bar 20-12-2017
Pictured during the filming for the first John Twiss documentary at Hughes’ Bar in Cordal in 2017 were: Seán Hughes, proprietor; Helen O’Connor, Firies; Johnnie Roche, Castleisland; Tim Fairclough, production runner and Denis Sayers, Kilflynn. The second programme will be screened on BBC One at 9:15am on this Friday morning.  ©Photograph: John Reidy

A email from the London based Chalkboard TV – the company which made the March 2018 broadcast documentary on the hanging of John Twiss – has confirmed that the 2019 series, Murder, Mystery and My Family is now being run on BBC One.

The company has also confirmed that the second look at the John Twiss case will feature on the coming Friday morning, April 12th. 2019 at 9.15am on BBC One.

Statement of Intent

The following statement from the company confirms the broadcast date and time and relays its thanks to those who helped in the making of the programme:

“The John Twiss episode of Murder, Mystery and My Family: Case Closed? will air as Episode 5 in the series on Friday 12th April 2019 at 9.15 am on BBC One, and will be available on the BBC iPlayer for 28 days afterwards.

The entire production team at Chalkboard TV would like to thank you for your contribution.”

Story Discovery

The company, discovered the ‘John Twiss story’ on the Michael O’Donohoe Memorial Heritage Project website over two years ago, made the initial contact with project co-ordinator and researcher, Janet Murphy in 2017.

They do, however, advise people who assisted in the making of the programme that not every scene, location or person they may have filmed in the course of production will be featured in the final 45-minute cut.

A Synopsis of the John Twiss Story

A man is dragged from his bed and beaten by two men. With serious injuries and a gunshot to his arm, he is discovered early the next morning.

His neighbour calls for a priest and a doctor, but it is too late – James Donovan has been murdered. With little evidence, the police round up several known criminals from the surrounding area, and John Twiss from Cordal, County Kerry and over 16 miles from the murder scene, is tried and convicted. He is hanged in February 1895, protesting his innocence.

Relative Determination

More than 120 years later, John’s relatives, Helen O’Connor and her brother, Denis Sayers were determined to prove his innocence and enlisted the help of the programme’s legal specialists to reinvestigate the case.

They asked: Why was Twiss arrested within days of the murder, only for the police to then spend months investigating the case? Was there any evidence to link him to the scene of the crime or to the other man who was alleged to have also committed the murder? Were witnesses put under pressure to give evidence or to change their stories?

Case Declared Unsafe

Helen and Dennis had heard the story of their ancestor’s innocence told countless times, but did the programme discover strong enough evidence to have this case declared unsafe by a judge?

Now, nearly a year on, the barristers catch up with Helen and Dennis to find out how they’ve been pursuing the case since the judge delivered his verdict.

Maamtrasna Murders

An official posthumous pardon was granted in March 2018 by President Michael D. Higgins for Myles Joyce who was hanged in Galway in 1882. Joyce died an innocent man was after an equally botched trial of the Maamtrasna Murders case in Connemara.

Now, Helen O’Connor and Denis Sayers are hoping the same may now be possible for John Twiss. On that note: The Michael O’Donohoe Memorial Heritage Project Committee has put the wheels in motion and correspondence is flowing between the committee and Minister Brendan Griffin, TD.

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