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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Sat 22 Sep 2012 - 5:29

Sixteenth Day of Proceedings - Tuesday, November 20, 1888





The Commission resumed its sitting today. When Justices Hannen, Smith, and Day took their seats at half-past ten, there was an unusually small number of the general public present, but in a few minutes the galleries presented their wanted appearance of activity. Mr. Biggar and Mr. Davitt were in their usual places in the well of the Court when the business commenced.

The counsel for the Times are the Attorney-General (Sir Richard Webster), Sir Henry James, Q.C., Mr. W. Murphy, Q.C., and Mr. W. Graham, of the English Bar, with Mr. J. Atkinson, Q.C., and Mr. Ronan, of the Irish Bar. The counsel for the Irish Members are Sir Charles Russell, Q.C., Mr. Asquith, Mr. R.T. Reid, Q.C., Mr. F. Lockwood, Q.C., Mr. Lionel Hart, Mr. Arthur Russell, Mr. Arthur O'Connor, and Mr. Harrington. Mr. P.A. Chance is represented by Mr. Hammond, solicitor, and Mr. Biggar, M.P., and Mr. Michael Davitt, appear personally.


The Judges having taken their seats,
The Attorney-General at once rose, and informed the Commission that they were endeavouring, as far as possible, to connect each outrage, so as to make the cases complete as far as the county Kerry was concerned. But they had the greatest difficulty, in consequence of matters he would have to bring before the Court. This matter, it transpired, was an article appearing in the Kerry Sentinel - which, the Attorney-General declared, was the property of Mr. E. Harrington, one of the gentlemen mentioned in the Times charges - of the 14th November last. Sir Richard Webster proceeded to read this article. It commenced with the observation that the "Judges are showing the measles now, though at the beginning they were spotless." To show "that the Judges were prejudiced," the case of the Galway peasant Connaire was mentioned, the article stating that he was brow-beaten by the Judges, given into custody and actually treated by Justices Smith and Day as a perjurer, while on the following day a sergeant of the R.I.C. was allowed to perform the most astounding feats in swearing without any hint or shrug from the Judges. In conclusion, the article declared that the Commission was the creature of the Government and the Times conspirators, and there must be no blinking at the fact that the Irish Members never had - and never got the chance of having - any confidence in its fairness. The committal of one or two for contempt would fix this on the public mind, what the Radical newspapers were forced to lay the facts before the public, and were made to show the bias of the Judges.


Having read so much, the Attorney-General then said that the paper was owned by Mr. E. Harrington, as he was the registered proprietor, and he went on to submit that an article such as that being published by a gentleman himself implicated, and by another appearing there as counsel -
Mr. T. Harrington - No; I am not connected with the paper.
The Attorney-General - I beg your pardon. I apologise. I will confine my remarks to Mr. E. Harrington, who, as the proprietor of this paper, I declare is guilty of a very gross contempt. I would ask your Lordships to take what steps seem necessary.


Mr. Reid then rose. He represented, he said, Mr. E. Harrington in that case. He wished to ask their Lordships for that which he was sure he would not have to ask in vain. He (Mr. Reid) came into Court three or four minutes before, and found the Attorney-General actually in the act of making an application against the gentleman whom he represented. He had had no time for consideration, no time for communication with Mr. Harrington, and no opportunity for an explanation by affidavit. He therefore did think, notwithstanding what the Attorney-General had said, that if Mr. Harrington was present, and was represented by counsel, the ordinary rule of giving notice - especially when it related to such a matter as committal, or the exercise of discipline by the Court - was a salutary and a just rule, and ought not to be disregarded in any circumstances. As the Attorney-General had not given him the slightest notice he (Mr. Reid) was at the present moment absolutely not in a position to deal with the matter. He therefore asked their Lordships that the further consideration of the matter should be deferred until tomorrow morning to give him some sort of decent interval in which to confer with the gentleman whom he represented, and of ascertaining the whole of the facts of the case.
The President - That is perfectly reasonable.
The Attorney-General also agreed to this course being taken. He said that the Kerry Sentinel was only placed into his hand a few minutes before, so that he was unable to give notice of his intention.
The further consideration of the matter was then adjourned until tomorrow morning.


John Culloty was then called. This individual, who was lame, on entering the witness-box was allowed to be seated. He said he lived near Castleisland, in co. Kerry, and worked for the bailiff on the property of the Misses Pertie. In 1880 the Land League was started, and witness then found a change in the conduct of his neighbours towards him. He was warned that he would injure himself if he worked for the bailiff. And here the witness mentioned casually - as emphasising the importance of this warning - that "he had seen crimes and people murdering."
"Do you mean to say," asked Mr. Atkinson, who was examining him, "you have actually seen these crimes committed?" - "Faith, no, your honour," replied John; "but I read about them, and they frightened me."


Continuing his evidence, Culloty said that for several nights he did not sleep in his house, because he was afraid. He spent his nights in a ditch, or in a barn. At last he got tired of that, and then he made a secret hiding-place in his house. On the night of the 12th of March, 1882, a body of men visited his house. He heard them knocking at the door, so he entered his hiding-place in the bedroom. The men got into the house, and he heard them threaten to ill-treat his wife if she did not tell where her husband was. She, however, averred that he was not in the house, and could not be persuaded to vary her statement. The men then searched the house, and even searched over witness's head. They of course, did not find him, and they then left, not, however, before threatening that "when they did catch him he should not walk another step afterwards." Of course, he then had police protection at night time.


However, two disguised men came to his kitchen, where there were two children, a young man, and himself. One of the men attempted to seize him, and the other pointed a revolver at him, and beat him with a stick. However, the men seemed to have reckoned without their host, for he struggled with them, and knocked one down, though he was twice shot in the leg by the man on the ground, while the other one struck him over the head with a spade. One of the men, named David Fleming, got thirty years for participation in the outrage, as a result of which the witness's leg was amputated.
Did Fleming attend any of the meetings of the League? - Oh, no. As far as witness knew (he went on to say) he saw no difference in the condition of the locality since the National League had been suppressed, for boycotting was still carried on, and, were it not for the police, he himself would not be here now.


Sir Charles Russell elicited from the witness that he believed the rents in the neighbourhood were in 1880 rather too high. He asserted that his character was as good as that of any one in the country.
Did you have a girl named Bridget in your house? - Bridget who? (Laughter.)
Bridget Cullaghty? - Yes.
Now, I ask you, were you not charged with the seduction of that girl? - That never happened, Sir.
You swear that? - Yes.
Were you sued by that girl's father for seduction? - I take my oath I never was.
Did you settle a claim with the girl's father for her seduction? - I swear I never did.
Where is the girl now? - All the family went away. I don't know.
Had you at other times girls named Fleming and Casey in your house? - Yes.
Were you charged with the seduction of those girls? - No, and the girl's in London now, and you can get her. I'm ashamed (excitedly) that you should bring out all this for publicity.
Sir Charles Russell - Yes, it is a shame.
Witness (very excitedly) - And it's a disgraceful thing that you should say all this to disgrace a girl living here in London.
The President - You must calm yourself. Answer the questions put to you and that is quite sufficient.
Sir C. Russell (to witness) - How long did Fleming live with you? - About two months.
And how long was Casey with you? - About three years.
Was not one of the men who attacked you named Fleming? - Yes.
Was he any relation of the girl I speak of? - I can't say.
Did any of Cullaghty's friends live in the neighbourhood? - Yes.
Was it ever suggested that Bridget Cullaghty's brother had anything to do with the outrage upon you? - As far as I am concerned I don't know.
Have you or have you not heard it stated that the brothers Cullaghty were parties to that attack? - Indeed, I never have.
Did they leave for America shortly after that? - No, but their passage was paid for them a long time after that.


Now, you mentioned an attack on you on the 17th of April. You also said that the two men were masked, and that you unmasked one of the men. Who was that man? - He was Fleming.
And who was the other? - "I consider the question unfair," replied the witness amid laughter.
Sir Charles again repeated the question, but witness replied, "Begorra, if I got him in Ireland I'd let him know." (Laughter.) "I'll not answer," he added with dogged pertinacity, when Sir Charles put the question for a third time.
Sir Charles then applied to the President to enforce the question.
The Attorney-General contended that the witness could not be compelled to state a man's name in a public court if he had a reasonable objection to doing so.
"Well, now," said John, "I don't want to mention the name, because I wish to catch him and put him on his trial." - "That is no reason," said the President, brusquely.


Sir Charles Russell then again repeated his question. "Ah, and sure" said John, amid a renewed outburst of laughter, "I only heard his surname, and that I have forgotten."
"Now, come," said Sir Charles, persuasively, "you have sworn that you know the man's name. Who was it?"
"Well, Sorr, to the best of my belief it was one of the Walshes, but whether it was Pat or Thomas I don't know." "They're (he added) the sons of a farmer living near Castleisland. I could not tell you the age of the man."
"Was it 17 or 18?" asked Sir Charles. - "Yes, Sorr - the best of my belief it was 25," replied the now communicative witness, amid the hilarity of the Court.


Was any action or claim made against you for seduction? - No, Sorr, but I heard that the girl Cullaghty had had a child, and an investigation was made at Tralee, as it was said that I was the father of it. "They made it up," he added, in reply to another question by Sir Charles Russell, "the same as you are doing now."
In answer to the Attorney-General, witness said he never had suspected that the Cullaghty's were among the men who attacked him on the first occasion when his house was visited, and when he hid away. He calculated that there were about fifteen or twenty men engaged in the outrage.
David George Huggins, who is now a district inspector in the R.I.C., and was in 1881 and 1882 a head-constable in Castleisland, was the next witness. He deposed to the last witness being placed under police protection, and to a notice being circulated offering 100 pounds to anyone who would give information of anyone working for him, and to visiting his house two hours after the attack upon him.
Sir Charles Russell, in cross-examination, got from Huggins the admission that he went to Castleisland shortly before the "O'Donnell v. Walter" trial, to get up particulars of outrages in case he should be examined about them.
Mr. Atkinson here produced a file of the Kerry Sentinel, and read a resolution of the Scartaglen branch of the National League in that paper of the 22nd of January, 1886, which condemned Cullaghty and David Casey as "landgrabbers of the worst type, who should be left to their own resources."


Johanna Leahy, a little old woman, whose head was enveloped in a long black shawl, after the fashion of a nun, and who persisted in addressing Mr. Murphy as "my lord," entered the box, and described the murder of her husband, shortly after he had taken some grazing land. The tragedy occurred in August, 1884, about midnight. A man entered the house, and asked her husband to get up. When they got downstairs, a party of men demanded, first of all, arms, and then whiskey. After that the man who had acted as spokesman commanded another, addressing him by a number, to throw her down, and he did so. Then followed several gunshots, her husband being shot while on his knees, and her daughter, who was upstairs, being told to hold her tongue, or she would be served the same.


Sir Charles Russell, cross-examining the witness, obtained from her the assertion that all her neighbours showed the greatest sympathy with her after the murder, and attended the wake. Sir Charles then obtained permission to read what the Kerry Sentinel said about this murder. The article declared it was their duty to raise their voices against such bloody deeds, for they were bringing disgrace upon their land, and, they must caution the people that if they valued life and liberty they must stop this demon of bloodshed that seemed to have taken possession of the people.
The learned counsel was very visibly affected while reading the article, his voice trembling with emotion.


Cornelius McCarthy, a head constable, who was stationed in the neighourhood where the murder occurred, followed Mrs. Leahy, deposing to having searched the house of the Secretary of the local branch of the League, and to having found a letter there, which was not, however, at this point read.
Some discussion arose upon the matter subsequently, the Attorney-General saying there were reasons why the letter should not now be read.
Sir Charles Russell urged that he might be allowed to see it, observing that it was the usual practice for counsel to see a document while on its way to the witness.
The President, however, declared that his colleagues were of the opinion that it was not a matter of right, but really a matter of courtesy.
Sir C. Russell - Then I shan't be allowed to see it as a matter of courtesy.
The President - Well, you must settle that between yourselves.
District Inspector Crane explained the circumstances under which the letter was found, stating that the house was searched, under the Crimes Act, the secretary being suspected to have been concerned in several outrages. His house was searched for documents relating to secret societies.


In answer to Sir Charles Russell, Crane said he was aware that there were several secret societies in county Kerry. The "Moonlighters" were the best known, but there were other societies called "Boher Derrig" and the "Red Road Boys." Witness admitted that the house was searched because it was thought the holder belonged to a society other than the Land League.


A labourer, named Pat Sullivan, now appeared in the witness-box. He said that his two sons worked for a man named John Connor in 1881, and, in consequence, in May, two men came to his house and knocked at the door. He opened it, and a shot was immediately fired at him. The shot, however, missed him, and the men went away. The next morning he found that a notice was fixed to the door. It advised him to withdraw his boys from Connor.
In answer to Mr. Lockwood, witness said he had never heard of any secret societies in the neighbourhood.


Pat Walsh was the succeeding witness. He said he had also worked for Mr. Connor. One morning he, too, found a notice placed on his door, warning him to sever his connection with him. Witness added that Connor was not boycotted at that time. He had not paid his rent, and thereby had "cleared" himself.


Mr. Lockwood elicited from Walsh that he remembered a man named Martin Costello, who lived near Ballybunion. He was a Fenian, and was supposed to be an informer; consequently, he was shot at. That man, said the witness, was hanged - he hanged himself. (Laughter.) Witness, however, asserted that he was not aware that a large number of people in the district belonged to a Fenian Society.


Walsh left the box, and John Connor succeeded him. He lives at a place called Fannanpierce, near Ballybunion, and about six years ago employed the last witness and his son. His evidence was directed to showing that he had a difference with the local branch of the Land League as to the payment of rent, and that notices were posted outside his house advising him not to pay rent unless he received an abatement. He showed Father O'Connell, the president of the local branch of the League the notices, and next Sunday, at mass, Father O'Connell denounced them.


Sir Charles Russell - Had the Land League anything to do with threatening you, or with any outrage in the neighbourhood? - No.
Mr. Reid also cross-examined the witness as to the rents in 1879 and 1880, when, said the witness, they were so high that the people could not pay them and live. Yet the landlords would not reduce them.
Mr. Biggar elicited from the witness the declaration that the awards made by Grand Juries for malicious injury were very excessive, and the county cess was payable by the occupier only, and not by the landlords.


The Attorney-General catechised the witness as to whether he had made any statement since he had been in London. He admitted he had made a statement to "some other gentleman" besides Mr. Soames. He couldn't say who the gentleman was, nor where he made the statement. "Some boy took me there (he continued), and told me he would take me to an office, where I should be helped to give my evidence. Another young man also went to the office with me, but I can't see anybody here who I saw there. The other witness who went there with me was a man named Clifford."
Before you went to this office were you talking to a priest? - No.
Afterwards were you? - No.
Was the statement taken down in writing? - No, but I gave the same statement in both places.
In further re-examination by the Attorney-General the witness declared that the reason he took the notices that were posted on his house to the parish priest was not because he knew the latter was President of the Land League, but because he knew he would denounce such a thing.
Sir Charles Russell again cross-examined the witness, who declared that he did not accept one penny for his second statement.
Mr. Justice Smith - How did this boy find you? - Well, he came to my lodgings, sir, and spoke to me after a bit.
How did he find out your address? - I don't know, sir.
Thomas Stretton, another head constable, who was stationed in Listowel in 1881, proved having received boycotting notices, which were posted on the houses of the witnesses Sullivan and Walsh. As, however, the sergeant who had taken the notices down was now dead, the witness's evidence was not proceeded with.


Another of the Kerry tenants followed Stretton. He gave the name of Dennis M'Carthy, and said he was a tenant of Lord Kenmare, living just outside Killarney.
Mr. Murphy - In October, 1881, did you pay your rent? - I've paid no rent. (Laughter.)
Have you told anybody since you have been in London that you did? - No.
As M'Carthy seemed to be reticent, Mr. Murphy treated him somewhat as a hostile witness, and seemed to be the cross-examining, rather than the examining, counsel. He, however, got from witness an account of a visit to his house of a party of men, who wanted to see the "pass," or rent-book.
What did they do then? - Well, they asked me a few questions about an acre of land for the poor man, and they put a few "grains" - meaning shot - in my leg, and away they went. That was all. (Laughter.)
Did you inform the police of it? - No. They didn't hurt me, and why should I try to hurt them?
Did you go to a doctor? - No, shure, I picked out the few "grains" myself, and I only felt just a little sore. That's all. (Laughter.)
The Court then adjourned for luncheon.


Upon resuming, Mr. Murphy proceeded to examine Kate M'Carthy, who wore no cover on her head, and was enveloped in a large coloured shawl. She was the wife of Dennis M'Carthy, and described the visit to her house mentioned by her husband.
Sergeant Droghan gave evidence as to visiting the house after the attack on M'Carthy. He added that notices relating to M'Carthy had previously been posted up, but he was not prepared to say that they emanated from the Land League.
When Sir Charles Russell questioned the witness, he said he knew that there were moonlighters in Kerry.
Are they not young boys and youths? - Well, they are farmers' sons and small farmers.


The next witness was an aged woman. She was attired in a long black gown, and wore a white linen bonnet over her head. This was Mary Hickey, and she told the story of her husband's murder. He was in 1882 the caretaker of a farm. In that year some men broke into their house, and shots were fired. Shortly after that she and her husband went to Castleisland. As they were returning, some men sprang out of a hedge. They cried, "Stop!" and Hickey and his wife did so. One of the men then asked Hickey if he would "landgrab" again, and after that they shot him in the legs, and he died shortly afterwards.
In cross-examination by Sir C. Russell, Mrs. Hickey declared that her husband's brother Michael was sent to jail for four months for attempting to get forcible possession of a house which her husband was claiming for his brother James.
Was it not said in the country that the cause of the attack upon your husband was owing to this dispute your husband had with his brothers? - It was, Sir.


Here again Sir Charles Russell asked and obtained leave to read comments in the Kerry Sentinel upon the occurrence. In the course of an article the outrage was referred to as a blood-thirsty occurrence, and the writer protested against such a blood-thirsty policy, which was entirely alien to all the wishes of their countrymen.


Huggins, the District-Inspector of the R.I.C., who gave evidence before, was recalled. He stated that before Hickey's death he was removed to a public-house, in order that he might be near a factor. Next day a notice was posted on the door of the public-house warning people against entering the house while Hickey was there.


William Williams, who lives at Brewsterfield, on the property of Mr. Orepan, followed Huggins. He deposed to a gang of men attacking his house, and stoning it, and subsequently firing into it in the direction in which he stood. Fortunately neither of the shots struck him. Prior to that, Williams received various notices through the post. One of these described Williams as Mr. Orepan's "hungry orphan," and declared that if anyone would shoot either he or Orepan he would get 500 pounds "with the greatest pleasure."


A son of the last witness, Harry Williams, was the next witness. He was a lad of about 19 years of age. At the time of the outrage on his father's house he went to school, and was there, after the occurrence, pelted with stones and turf, and some of the children would not speak to him.
Did you know a girl friend of yours who had her hair cut off? asked Mr. Ronan.
"Well," was the reply, "I knew a girl whose hair was said to be cut off, but it was not."
Daniel Crane, the District-Inspector of the R.I.C., was recalled, and gave evidence as to notices being posted in the district with reference to Williams.


Crane very speedily disappeared, and Daniel Dowling took his place. He was a farmer in Castleisland, and up to March, 1882, he had paid his rent regularly. One night in March, however, he heard some men in the house below, and they called him by name. He went into the kitchen, and the men asked him if he paid his rent. He said he did, as also did the tenants before him. He was ordered to go outside the door, and was told to keep his eyes on the ground. When he got outside he was fired at, and a bullet entered his thigh. Witness asserted that he did not notice any change in the conduct of the people towards him. He was a tenant of Mr. W. Blennerhassett. Shortly before the outrage writs were served on a great many of the tenants for rent. The tenants, however, were asking for an abatement. His rent was reduced from 150 pounds to 105 pounds. The other tenants also had a reduction of thirty per cent.
Mr. Davitt elicited from the witness that nearly all the tenants were Land Leaguers, and that they were friendly to him. Witness was also a Land Leaguer from 1881 to 1882.
District-Inspector Huggins, for the third time today, entered the witness-box, and deposed to notices having been posted up referring to the last witness, but he declared that he could not now produce those notices.


Another of the tenants of Mr. Blennerhassett was called. This was William Prenderville. He deposed to a gang of men pulling him out of his bed, taking him into the yard, and "parading round him," because he paid "rack rent." He was, however, allowed to go back to his bed without anything being done to him.
"Now," said Mr. Reid, in cross-examination, "had the Land League anything to do with this?" - I swear to the best of my belief. I think they never had," was the emphatic reply.
Are you a member of the Land League? - Yes, since infancy.
Since the infancy of the League? - Yes.
Sir Henry James - Did you know who these men were? - I swear I don't - no more than the man in the moon. (Laughter.)


Lizzie Curtin followed. She is a tall, prepossessing young lady. She was attired in deep mourning, wearing also a huge boa round her neck. She is at present the post-mistress at Wicklow. In the autumn of 1885 she was living with her father at Castlefarm, which was on the estate of the Earl of Kenmare. "I know," said Miss Curtin, "that my father was asked to go to Lord Kenmare about a reduction of rent, and he acted as spokesman. He paid his rent before November, 1885, without any abatement. On the night of the 13th November I was in the parlour with father and mother, when a servant entered the room and said something about moonlighters. I had no firearms downstairs, and, followed by my father, I went upstairs and got a gun and revolver, which I gave to father. He went to the foot of the stairs, I remaining on the stairs, I heard my father say, "Well, now, boys," and immediately afterwards a volley of shots was fired, and shots swept past my head as I stood on the stairs. The lamp I had went out. My sister Norah came rushing upstairs and told me my brother Daniel was shot.


I went downstairs to the parlour, where we had been sitting, and I learned my brother had been shut up. Inside I saw my brother. He was surrounded with men, with whom he was struggling. I caught hold of a gun that was between my brother and one of the men, and my sister Norah pulled something off the man's face, observing to my brother, "Dan, do you know him?" At that time I should say there were three men with my brother. The struggle went on till we got out into the hall, I keeping hold of the gun all the way, and ultimately taking the gun from the man's grasp.


After that I went upstairs to my father's bedroom, where I found my father suffering from a shot wound in the abdomen. I rushed down and asked the men servants, four in number, to go for the priest, and doctors, and police. They had not interfered in the struggle hitherto, but they went for the priest and doctor, but refused to go for the police. About three hours later my father died, but before that I had seen Timothy Sullivan in the hall dying. The funeral of my father took place on the following Sunday, but only a few people attended it. When the priest made mention of the murder at the chapel, I heard the people make some noise in the chapel with their feet.
The Commission shortly afterwards adjourned.


"I learn (says the London Correspondent of the Birmingham Post) that in rebutting the evidence given by the Times before the Special Commission, Sir Charles Russell and his coadjutors will greatly rely upon a memorandum which was issued by the Irish Land League leaders to the various branches in 1881, when the crime that is now being depicted was most rife. In this document precise directions were given to the League officials for their guidance in all circumstances. Crime was condemned in the most emphatic terms, and all violent methods discountenanced. The greatest importance is attached to the effect the production of this document will have upon the Court and the public generally."

Source: The Echo, Tuesday November 20, 1888, pp. 2-3

Karen Trenouth
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