Crotty's wife is said to have composed a
"Caoine" (mournful song) at his wake. After Crotty's death the authorities hunted his wife and she is reputed to have thrown herself and her child off the top of the
cliff, bearing his name, to her death.
The following appeared in a book "Ireland Sixty Years
Ago," published in 1849.
"After Crotty was decapitated pursuant to his sentence, and
his head was placed on a spike over the gate of the county gaol,
which was at a great thoroughfare, and often a resting place for
those who brought milk to the markets. In a few days, the head
became in a state of putrid solution, and began to distil drips
of gore into the milk cans, for some time before it was discovered,
to the inexpressible horror of all those who had been drinking
the milk. The hair did not decay with the flesh and grew on the
bony cranium; and there for a long time the ghastly skull of this
miscreant excited as much horror after his death as his cruel
actions during his life.
When a criminal was executed for an offence for which his body
is not liable to be given to the surgeons for dissection, his
friends were allowed to take it. It was washed and then laid on
a truss of straw in a public street, with or without a head, and
a plate was laid on the breast, with a halfpenny on it, as an
invitation to passengers to contribute to the funeral.
sometimes a solemn spectacle, with the felon's widow at the head,
wailing, with dishevelled hair and singing, in a low dismal chant,
her lament: his children ranged at the feet. But the utter indecency
with which the executions were then accompanied, sometimes occasioned
the most revolting and horrible scenes.
About the same time at
which the abominable occurrence above mentioned of Crotty's head
took place, three highwaymen, Stackpole, Cashman and Heirly, were
hanged in Waterford. Their bodies were given to friends and were
brought to the fish-house, to be washed. While in the act of being
washed, the bell rung to intimate a fresh arrival of fish; their
bodies were hastily removed from the boards which they occupied,
and the fish were thrown down in their place, swimming in the
loathsome washings and the blood of the corpses. They were then
exposed on the straw in the street and an elderly gentleman, who
communicated the circumstances to us, was brought by his nurse
to see them, as a sight worthy of contemplation."