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Irish massacre of Protestants: bid to solve ultimate cold case

Academics are turning cold-case investigators in an unprecedented attempt to resolve one of Irish history's most hotly disputed controversies.

Language experts have been given the go-ahead to use cutting-edge software technology to pore over thousands of witness accounts of an alleged massacre of Protestants centuries ago.

The so-called Depositions of English and Scottish settlers at the coal face of the 1641 Rising by Catholic rebels have been exploited by historians, politicians and propagandists through the years.

Now, researchers from the University of Aberdeen have been given a £334,000 grant to settle whether the death toll and notorious propaganda images of settlers being raped, mutilated and murdered were exaggerated.

Locked away in Trinity College Dublin (TCD) since 1741, the 20,000 pages of text will be examined using “dirty text” analysis software, to examine and cross-reference names, places, words and phrases carried in the 4,000 depositions.

The Protestant death toll in the alleged massacre has most recently been put at between 4,000 and 12,000.

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