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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Sun 23 Sep 2012 - 1:55

Seventeenth Day of Proceedings - Wednesday, November 21, 1888





In anticipation of the Judges' decision as to the Kerry Sentinel article, and of the cross-examination of Miss Curtin, who yesterday related a thrilling story of her adventure with Moonlighters, and of her father's murder, the Court was crowded this morning when the Judges took their seats. Mr. E. Harrington, with reference to whom the Attorney-General made the application yesterday morning, put in an appearance soon after ten o'clock, accompanied by Mr. Michael Davitt. Until the Court opened, he engaged in an earnest conversation with Sir C. Russell, Mr. Reid (his counsel), and Mr. Lockwood.
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,
Mr. Reid said, with regard to the application made yesterday by the Attorney-General with reference to the Kerry Sentinel article, I have communicated my views upon this subject to my client, Mr. Harrington, and he has not thought fit to adopt them. Under these circumstances, I am not in a position to say anything to your Lordships.
The President (to Mr. E. Harrington) - In that case, have you anything to say, Mr. Harrington?
Mr. E. Harrington - I have nothing to say, my Lord, except that I accept the responsibility of all that appears in my paper.
The President - We will retire.


The Judges then left the Court, which was immediately thrown into an unusual state of excitement, various vague rumours as to the result of the affair being circulated. Five minutes elapsed and Mr. Justice Smith's private secretary appeared in court and obtained a copy of a legal book from the secretary of the Commission. A few minutes later - ten minutes in all having elapsed - the Judges re-entered Court.


The President then said, "It is my painful duty to have to pronounce the conclusion at which we have arrived. Certainly, I had hoped that, as Mr. Harrington's interests were confided to Mr. Reid, whose position at the bar assures us that the best possible advice would be given to Mr. Harrington - I had hoped, I say, that I should have been spared the duty which now falls upon me. But as Mr. Harrington has not acted upon the advice which he has received from his counsel, but assumed to take up a position of responsibility for the article called to our notice, I must proceed to pronounce our opinion upon it. It would be wasting words to point out how serious is the contempt of Court which has been committed. It assumes a form which would have induced me, if I could have seen my way to do it consistently with the duties which belong to the position that has been imposed upon me, to have passed it over, because the contempt consists in personal references to the members of this Court. But it is necessary that the authority of the Court should be maintained, and one can conceive, if attacks of this kind were allowed to go on, they would tend to shake the authority of the Court in the eyes of the public, and especially in the eyes of those whom we may have to call before us. I must, therefore, make due sense of the serious character of the contempt which has been committed by imposing punishment upon Mr. Harrington. This subject has been on several occasions before the Court of Law, and I have before me the case of "Onslow and Whalley," in which the Court was called upon to deal with a matter of this kind. We propose to follow that precedent, and we, therefore, pass this sentence: - "That for the contempt of which Mr. Harrington has been guilty he be adjudged to pay a fine of 500 pounds to the Queen."
Mr. Harrington, who sat between Mr. Davitt and Mr. Biggar, looked very pale, but did not attempt to speak.


Miss Curtin again entered the witness-box and was cross-examined by Sir Charles Russell. She said she knew her father subscribed to the National League, but she did not know that he was vice-president of the branch of the League in that district. Neither did she know that it was arranged that he should be asked to go to Lord Kenmare's and ask for an abatement. Neither did she know that her father had a beneficial lease.


Speaking of the second moonlighting raid; she said that when the men entered the hall, Mr. Curtin, who had possessed himself of firearms, fired, and Sullivan was shot dead in the passage. A volley was then fired, and her father was wounded. The two men who were sent to penal servitude were both young men, as also was Sullivan.


Now, is there any reason for believing that your father was at enmity with the Land League or National League, or that he had done anything against their wishes? - Not that I am aware of.
Witness, continuing, said that the Member for the county, Mr. Sheehan, attended the funeral, and Mr. John O'Connor, M.P., for the adjoining county, also attended. Witness did not know that Mr. Webb was the treasurer of the National League. She, however, knew that he came down to the district from Dublin, and attempted to stop the boycotting and annoyance to which the Curtin family were subjected. Witness admitted that she also heard that Mr. Davitt went there for the same purpose, and that the parish priests also denounced the outrages.
Miss Curtin repeated to Mr. Michael Davitt that she had heard of his going down to the neighbourhood of her house and denouncing the murder of her father.
Sir Henry James re-examined Miss Curtin. He elicited from her that before her father was wounded she saw seven or eight guns pointed in his direction; that her sister Norah was married, and could not attend; and that her brother Dan was in Australia.


George Curtin, another brother of the last witness, followed. He described the attack upon his father's house, saying that he saw five men with guns there, and one was pointed at him. He also spoke of the conduct of the people towards the family after the murder, corroborating Miss Curtin's statements as to people leaving church when the murder was referred to, as to members of the family being shouted at as they passed along the road, and generally bearing out his sister's declarations.
In cross-examination by Sir Charles Russell, Mr. Curtin stated that he was a member of the National League, and his father was a vice-president at the time of the murder.
Now, I must ask you, Mr. Curtin - your family have suffered grievous trouble - have you any reason for supposing that the National League had anything to do with this gross outrage upon your father? - No.
Mr. Lockwood obtained from the witness the admission that he had seen resolutions passed by local branches of the League, which strongly condemned the outrage.
Sergeant Meehan, a sergeant of the R.I.C., who visited the house of Mr. Curtin just after the attack, deposed to having found the body of Timothy Sullivan lying in the passage, with a loaded gun by the side.
Were you present at the funeral of Mr. Curtin? - Well, I wasn't exactly present, but I was convenient. (Laughter.) Meehan went on to say that on that day he met a man named M'Mahen, who was, he believed, a member of the League, and who told him he was afraid to attend the funeral of Mr. Curtin. Meehan arrested Casey for the murder, and he knew he was a member of the League, as he attended its meetings on horseback, wearing a green sash, and waving a green flag.


The Sunday after the trial of this man the people tried to attack the Curtin family, which necessitated the police drawing their swords and standing between them and the people. The police force was consequently increased, but next Sunday the crowd stoned the family, and the police charged the people. Father O'Connor that day said at a chapel, "We all deeply sympathise with the widow who has lost her son."
Who was the widow, and who the son? - I took it to mean the widow Sullivan, who lived in the locality, and whose son was killed the night of the murder of Mr. Curtin.
Sir Charles Russell severely cross-examined Meehan as to whether he had ever made a report of this observation before, but he said he had not until he got to London. He did not, he said, take notes of the sermon, but he was certain that Father O'Connor did not denounce the outrage.


Mr. Lockwood then rose. In answer to his questions the witness admitted that Moonlighting had existed in the district ever since he had been there. Robbery of arms was (he added) a common object of a Moonlight raid.
Mr. Davitt elicited from the witness that the Caseys and the Dallys were a strong faction in the district. That faction, of course, retaliated on the Curtins for the sentence on Casey and Dally in connection with the murder of Mr. Curtin. Witness, however, asserted that the annoyance to the Curtin family extended far beyond that faction.


Peter Breen, who lives at Loughmore, county Kerry, deposed to having taken a farm vacated by a man named M'Mahon, and to being visited subsequently by a gang, one of whom, called "Number Twenty-one," fired at him, shooting him in the right thigh. This was because a heifer, which had formerly belonged to him, had been sent to graze on an evicted farm.
Sir Charles Russell, in cross-examination, obtained from the witness the statement that the M'Mahon whose farm he took, was evicted about four months before the attack upon him. M'Mahon's daughter died a few hours after the eviction, having to be carried out of the house on the bed on which she lay in consumption.


Norah Fitzmaurice was the next witness. She is a tall good looking young woman, and gave her evidence very clearly. She stated that her father, Jas. Fitzmaurice, lived in the parish of Lixnaw, in the county Kerry, with her uncle Edmond, the two holding a farm of sixty-six acres. Both were ultimately evicted for non-payment of rent, and were put back as caretakers. Prior to the eviction, a dispute had arisen between her father and uncle, as the latter was not willing to pay his portion of the rent, and it was in consequence of this that the eviction took place. In March, 1887, her father was made tenant of the entire farm, and her uncle left and went to live at the next farm.


Shortly after that the servant of the secretary of the local branch of the National League, Thomas Doolan, brought a letter to her father, which asked him to attend a meeting of the National League on the succeeding Sunday. This, however, he did not do, and subsequently she saw notices in the Kerry Sentinel and the Kerry Weekly Reporter with reference to her father.
Here a discussion arose as to the admissibility of notices in the latter paper, inasmuch as no one connected with that paper was mentioned in the charges and allegations.
Sir Henry James submitted that it was admissible on the ground that it was a record of events commonly known in a locality.
Sir C. Russell observed that it seemed to him the actual object of the inquiry, viz., the inquiring into charges and allegations, had been lost sight of. He submitted that it was not admissible, on the ground that the paper was not connected with specifically mentioned persons.
Mr. Asquith emphasised Sir Charles's argument, after which,
The President decided that the evidence was not admissible.
Miss Fitzmaurice's evidence was, consequently, proceeded with on other lines. She said that shortly after her father took the farm on his own hands, Doolan, with other men, visited the farm, and walked around the house, staying there about two hours.
Mr. Atkinson here read from the Kerry Sentinel a report of a National League meeting, at which Mr. Fitzmaurice was condemned for taking his brother's farm.


Continuing her evidence, Miss Fitzmaurice said that in January, 1888, she left her house at about four o'clock with her father for Listowel Fair. They were accompanied some distance by a police escort. Shortly after the escort left them a man passed them and returned with another man. They then fired at her father, and he was killed. Two men named Hayes and Moriarty were hanged for the murder.


After her father had been shot, several neighbours passed in their carts. One stopped and said, "He's not dead yet," and passed on; while others refused to assist her at all.


After the conviction of the two men Hayes and Moriarty the people refused to speak to her. When she attended the parish church the people got up and left the building, the man Thomas Doolan leading the way; and those who did worship in the same church would not kneel where she knelt. Norah Fitzmaurice went on to say that she was still living in her father's house, with her sister and mother, and they were still under police protection.


In course of cross-examination by Sir Charles Russell, Norah Fitzmaurice declared that there was a dispute about the bog-land near her father's farm, but she could not say it was because the landlord, Mr. Hussey, was trying to close a road that the public had used for a long time. When her uncle was evicted, he went to live with a Mr. Costelloe, also a tenant under Mr. Hussey, who, she heard, was very much annoyed in consequence. She admitted that there was "very bad blood" between her father and uncle.
Is it not a fact that Hayes, one of the men convicted of your father's murder, tried to break up the League at Tralee? - No, sir.
Did you know that either one of the two was a member of the League? - No. She added that Thomas Quilter, who had been brought over to London as a witness, and died here, was her cousin, and was the assistant secretary of the local branch of the League.


Articles published in the Kerry Sentinel and United Ireland, condemning the murder and outrages in Kerry generally, were at this juncture read. Then Sir Henry James re-examined Miss Fitzmaurice, obtaining merely the additional statement that articles had appeared in the Kerry Sentinel relating specifically to her father.
Miss Fitzmaurice left the box, and Michael Harris entered. His evidence was directed to representing the hostility of the people towards the Fitzmaurices after the murder. "Referring to the fact that Doolan left the chapel when Miss Fitzmaurice entered, he said he believed that was simply because Miss Fitzmaurice was there. Doolan was afterwards sent to jail for intimidating Miss Fitzmaurice.
The Court here adjourned for luncheon.


On resuming, after luncheon, Sir Henry James put in a copy of the Kerry Sentinel, containing a report of the proceedings of the trial of Doolan for the intimidation of Norah Fitzmaurice. He said his object was to show that there was no condemnation of the outrage and boycotting.
Head-constable Irwin was then re-called. He said that on the 18th of August, 1880, Quilter made a statement to him. Witness then read a portion of the statement from his note-book.
He was interrupted by Sir Charles Russell, who, addressing the Court, contended that the statement was not evidence, as it had not been made by Quilter as an official of the League.
The President upheld that view.


Maurice Leonard, Justice of the Peace for the county of Kerry, was next examined. He said he was the agent of Lord Kenmare, and had been so since 1886. He had lived in Killarney before 1880, and was acquainted with the doings of the Land League and National League in that district. Before 1880, he had never known of persons being boycotted, and had never heard of secret societies committing outrages in the district where he lived. He asserted most emphatically that the relations between the tenants and himself were most amicable prior to 1881. The first incident in connection with the moonlighting outrages on the tenants was an attack upon a man named Michael Callinane, whose ears were slit by Moonlighters because, as he averred, "he had taken a farm" of Lord Kenmare's. After that a man named John Cournane was evicted, and notices were then posted in the locality warning farmers of the district against taking the evicted land "at their peril." In a third case a man named Murphy was evicted, and a few days later a Land League hut was sent down from Dublin, and about five hundred men, in the presence of Mr. E. Harrington, attempted to erect the hut near the land. The man who owned the land where it was erected resisted its erection, and a few nights later his ear was slit. Only a few months later John O'Keefe, another tenant, paid his rent, was raided within a few nights, the calves of his legs being blown away; on the same night two men named Cronin, who paid their rent the same day as O'Keefe, were visited, being shot in the legs; Dennis M'Carthy, who was a witness yesterday, was shot in the thigh after paying his rent. The witness gave further testimony as to the fear prevailing amongst the country people after 1880, mentioning that the rent of one tenant was sent to Lord Kenmare by the tenant's son, who said his father was afraid to go to the office with it himself. The witness produced several letters forwarded with enclosures for rent.


The persons who sent those letters were quite willing to pay their rent, and prior to that time had not showed a reluctance to pay. In Glengustern, continued the witness, it was found necessary to evict three tenants who were able to pay their rent, but were afraid to do so. The tenants afterwards paid their rent and costs, and re-entered into possession. Witness also read a letter received from a man named Moynham, who had paid his rent. In this letter he asked witness not to let his neighbours know that he had paid his rent, as it was a "sentence of death."


The witness related several cases in which caretakers of evicted farms were attacked and shot. After the Crimes Act was passed in 1882 (added the witness) the condition of things in his neighbourhood improved vastly, and continued to do so up to the time of the expiration of that Act.
The Court subsequently adjourned.

Source: The Echo, Wednesday November 21, 1888, pp. 2-3

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

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