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Fenians in Dorset-street

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Fenians in Dorset-street

Post by Karen on Wed 18 May 2011 - 12:38





Today's proceedings promised at the outset to be more interesting than any other since the Commission commenced its sittings. In the first place, the examination of the truant Molloy, who refused to obey his subpoena, and was arrested and committed for contempt, was eagerly looked forward to, it being stated that he would divulge something concerning the doings of the "Invincibles," of which, rumour had it, he was a member; and, in the second place, there were rumours that the informer O'Connell, who professed to know such a great deal about what he called the "inner circle" of the Land League, would be cross-examined - a proceeding which was adjourned, on the application of Sir Charles Russell, because the evidence he gave had been "sprang upon" the Parnellite Party. In consequence of this, the Court presented an unusually animated appearance when the Judges took their seats.


Patrick Molloy, with whom was a warder, immediately took his stand in the witness-box, and kissing the Testament, threw it down on the desk with a bang. He is a young, good-looking man, rather fair, and very respectably dressed. He was examined by the Attorney-General.
Where do you live? - Well, my present address is Holloway Jail, London.
Where did you live before you came to London? - 43, Oak-street, Dublin.
How old are you? - Somewhere about 25 or 26.
These answers being given in a very hostile manner, the Attorney-General directed his questions to proving what it is alleged Molloy told the person who took his statement for the purposes of examination at the Commission. He denied that he had ever been a Fenian, that he told the person who took his proof he had been; and that he said he joined in 1877 or 1878. The person he referred to went to his house, he said, and asked him if he had been a Fenian. He replied in the negative, but promised that if he went to London he would make "a statement." He declared that he never said he knew James Carey, or that James Carey introduced him to the Society; or that his statement was written out or read over to him. He certainly saw a Mr. Beecham, a solicitor, but he declared that he never told him that he had been a Fenian, or that he had been engaged in conveying arms to any part of Ireland.


"This man," he exclaimed, pointing to a gentleman just in front of the Attorney-General, "came to me, and told me he knew all about me, and all about the Fenian organisation, and why I went to America, and all about what I did there; and he said that he knew Mr. Davitt and Mr. Biggar were mixed up in it. Then I promised to make a statement in London." Then proceeding, he firmly denied that he said he knew Patrick Egan, swearing that he never saw him at all, to his knowledge. He, however, knew Kelly and Mullet, having gone to school with them. He admitted that he went to America, where he worked for Frank Byrne, and was ill there. A statement purporting to be written out in the interview, was handed up to the witness, but he denied that it was written in his presence or read over to him.


Have you seen Mr. Walker, who took this statement, frequently? - I have.
When did you first hear from him? - About three weeks ago, by letter.
What did you do with it? - I gave it to Mr. Boland, a friend of mine.
Where is it now? - I believe it is in the hands of a gentleman who will produce it here today.
Where was it taken by Boland? - I believe it was given to Dr. Kenny, M.P.
Had you any other letters? - I had.
Where are they? - I gave them to Boland, and I believe they are with the other one.
Sir Charles Russell - They are all here, if you want them.


Molloy went on to say, replying to the Attorney-General, that he refused to go to England when he got to the station in Dublin. He, however, received 11 pounds.
Did you tell Walker that you could not leave until you paid two small debts? - I did, and that was not true. I didn't like to go until I got hold of the money. I owed no money.
Did he tell you that if you wrote letters to the persons you owed the money to he would give the money, provided you posted the letters in his presence? - He did.
Did you write those letters? - I did, and I posted them in his presence, but I didn't owe any money.
You, I suppose, thought you were going to get over him? - I didn't think anything of the sort; but I wanted to show up the working.
If you made no statement what were you to go to London for? - Walker told me that I was to go for the purpose of making a statement to Mr. Seames and Mr. Walter.
Did you say that it would not be safe for you to go to London? - I did.
And would it have been dangerous? - Not at all.
Did you suggest that you would be shot if you gave evidence? - I did, but there is no such danger. This man (pointing to Mr. Walker) seemed to think that I knew a lot about the Fenian organisation, and that I could say a lot about Mr. Davitt, and all sorts of things. In fact, it was supposed I knew a great deal.


Now, did this gentleman mention a single Member of Parliament to you at all? - Yes; he mentioned the names of Dr. Kenny, Mr. Biggar, and Mr. O'Connor.
Did he not ask you whether you had ever met any Members of Parliament at meetings of "Invincibles"? - I tell you I never had anything to do with the "Invincibles." I do not know any Members of Parliament.
Now, were you Michael Fagan's private secretary? - No; but I know him. I was introduced to him in 1880, by a young man named Murphy. He lived somewhere on the North side of the city, but I did not know exactly where.
What was he? - He was a blacksmith.
But do you not know that he was an "Invincible"? - No.
Are you aware that Fagan was hanged? - Yes; for being concerned in the Phoenix Park murder. I did not know Fagan intimately. I had met him several times in the street and in public-houses.


Did you know James Mullet? - Yes; he kept a public-house in Dorset-street. I had been there several times on business for my master, Mr. Steward, a solicitor.
Now, do you swear, Sir, that you never met Fagan at James Mullet's house? - That I swear.
Do you know that James Mullet got ten years' penal servitude? - Yes; but I did not know what for.
Did you not know that he was arrested at the time of the Phoenix-park murder, and pleaded guilty to conspiracy to murder? - Yes.
Then why did you say that you did not know why he was sent to prison? - I meant that I knew he pleaded guilty, but of what I did not know.
Did you know that you were to be arrested? - No, never.
Now when did you leave Mr. Steward's employ? - In January, 1883.
Did you know Robert Farrell? - No; I have never seen him, but I heard his name mentioned when he turned informer.


Did you leave Mr. Steward without giving him notice? - Yes; because I had had a dispute with my parents, and I made up my mind to leave the country. I went to America.
Where did you get the money? - I had the money saved.
When did you go to America? - Either in February or March, 1883.
When you determined to go to America, did you go to Mr. Steward's office, open your desk, and take some papers away? - No, I did not.
Had you a revolver in your possession before or after that time? - I never had.
Did you hear that you were going to be arrested just before you went to America? - I did not.
How many days before you determined to go to America was it that you read in the papers that Farrell had turned informer? - I cannot say.
Molloy further said he knew McCafferey, but whether he was an Invincible or not he couldn't say, though he knew he pleaded guilty to some charge in connection with the Phoenix-park murder. Molloy was away from Ireland nearly three years. He left for America in the Pennsylvania, from Liverpool, and worked his passage out in his own name as a steward with Michael Brennan, who was the chief steward. Arrived in America he went to Philadelphia, where he acted as bar-keeper cashier in a hotel, afterwards travelling for a jewellery firm.


Turning again to Ireland, Molloy said he remembered reading of the police-court proceedings in Dublin in January, 1883, in which Farrell, the informer, mentioned a person named Molloy.


Having read over the names of the accused parties at the trial of the "Invincibles," the Attorney-General asked whether he remembered reading in Farrell's evidence a statement to this effect: - "That when Farrell got a revolver, and Curley came back to Westland-row, he met Joseph Mullet, Joe Hanlen, Michael Fagan, George Smith, and Molloy"? - He remembered reading it.
Did you read that portion in which it was said that Molloy took an envelope from a person to another at the corner of Westland-row? - I read that also.
Did you think that account referred to you? - I did not, Sir.
Did you ever make inquiries about it? - No; it didn't concern me.
Will you swear that you did not determine to leave for America within twenty-four hours after reading this evidence? - I cannot swear, but I may say the dispute at home that caused my departure had been brewing for a long time.
How long after that appeared was it before you left? - I cannot say; it is so long ago.
The Attorney-General read still further extracts, from which it appeared that the man Molloy, mentioned by Farrell, was the person deputed to murder Mr. Barrett? Did you (he asked of Molloy) consider that that Molloy was to effect the murder? - I couldn't tell you. It didn't concern me.
Was everything you told Mr. Walker true? - No.
Well, what did you say that was not true? - I told him that if I came to London I would make a statement, which was not true.
Anything else? - I didn't say much.


Sir Charles Russell then cross-examined Molloy. He said he had been back from America since 1884, since which time his presence had been known very largely. He had never attempted to conceal himself, and had been in the employ of the Dublin Corporation.
Was there every any attempt to arrest you? - Never, Sir.
Have you any objection to telling the Court what was the cause of the quarrel at home? - Well, I was inclined to get married, and my friends didn't seem satisfied, so I went off in a pout. (Laughter.)
Now, you say Mr. Walker mentioned a number of names to you. Just give us the conversation more fully? - He said he knew Mr. Davitt to be a Fenian. He asked me if I knew a man named Davis - Eugene Davis, of Paris. I said I had never seen him, and he then said Mr. Davitt was in touch with him. He also asked me if I knew Mr. John O'Connor, M.P., and said that he was a Fenian, as was also Mr. Matt J. Kenny, the Secretary of the present of the present Lord Mayor of Dublin. The same applied to Mr. Biggar.


The various letters Molloy had received relative to giving evidence were then arranged by Molloy, and handed to Sir Charles Russell, who read them. The first was as follows: -

"Hibernian Hotel, Nov. 20, 1888."
"Dear Sir. - I am anxious to see you as to the Directory. I was not able to be there at the time named, but sent my friend. However, you didn't call, I believe. If convenient, you may call here tomorrow at twelve o'clock if you are able. Will you kindly give me the name of the agents in Dublin. - Yours, "S. THOMPSON."

Molloy explained that the Directory referred to in the first sentence was one for which he was canvassing. It was a book about to be brought out by a London firm. After receiving a telegram appointing another meeting, Molloy received another letter bearing the signature of S. Thompson, which ran thus: - "I would like to have some particulars as to terms of subscription for the book, and to know whether, if a larger number were ordered, there would be a reduction; also how soon you expect to be able to furnish copies. I will be at No. 8 (which Molloy explained was a building of the Young Men's Christian Association) at three o'clock today. If not convenient to see me then please ask the firm to drop a note to No. 25, or write yourself and say it will be convenient for you to see me in consultation with them. I think, if you can give the assurance that the book is likely to be a success, a very large number would be ordered. No advertisement will be issued till you reply."


Molloy said there was also another letter, which was burned in the presence of Mr. Walker. That letter - a copy of which was produced by the Attorney-General - was dated November 30th, and read as follows: -

"Dear Sir, - I have considered your proposal that I should advance you 11 pounds to enable you to pay your debts this evening before leaving for London, and I have come to the determination that I ought not to do so. I am willing to give you any guarantee you require in the way already settled; that your father and mother will be furnished with the means to leave the country if your giving evidence should lead to the necessity for going. I think it only fair, and shall give you a guarantee, that you will be provided with means to take you wherever you want to go, as you say you can no longer remain here. I will also give you a guarantee, as this is taking you away from your present means of earning a living and paying your debts, that you shall get a full equivalent, and further that you will not be dealt with in any niggardly spirit while considering this matter. Beyond this, I do not think it would be honourable to go, and I am sure on reflection you will agree with me. - Yours truly, J. WALKER."
"P.S. - I gave your statement to the Times' solicitor after satisfying myself that I was of liberty to give you these assurances."


Why did you burn that letter in Mr. Walker's presence? - Everything that passed between us was supposed to be private; but I had told two of my friends of the interviews, and also told them that I had burnt the letter. I burnt it in order to satisfy him that I would not show the letter to anyone. He was trying to get me into a trap; or of course, I was trying to get him into it.


Molloy then related the circumstances which led up to the interviews with Mr. Walker. He first of all, he said, made an appointment to see Mr. Thompson at the Hibernian Hotel at twelve o'clock. Mr. Thompson then told him he was engaged, so he must call again in the evening. This he did, but he did not see Mr. Thompson again. Mr. Walker was there. They went together to Fitzwilliam-square to see him, but he did not put in an appearance. Mr. Walker then asked Molloy for a specimen of his book, looked through it, and admired the plates. Then he said, "Well, it is not in connection with your book that I want to see you at all. I am an agent for the Times." He then asked him (proceeded the witness) several questions, and the following was a portion of the conversation which took place: -

"Are you a clerk in the Land League Office?" - "No."
"Are you a member of the Land League?" - "No."
"Are you a Fenian?" - "No."
"Are you an Invincible?" - "No."

Mr. Walker then said he had proof that Molloy was both a Land Leaguer, Fenian, and Invincible. Molloy answered - so he asserted - that if he had such evidence it was very strange that the Government had not taken any action with regard to him. Mr. Walker then asked Molloy questions concerning Egan and Sheridan, but Molloy denied being acquainted with them. Neither did he know Carey. It was on this, as well as on other occasions (said the witness), that Mr. Walker questioned him about Mr. Davitt, Mr. Biggar, Mr. John O'Connor, and Mr. Kenny.

Source: The Echo, Friday December 7, 1888, Page 2

Karen Trenouth
Author of: "Epiphany of the Whitechapel Murders"
Author of: "Jack the Ripper: The Satanic Team"

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