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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Tue 25 Sep 2012 - 22:46

Twenty-first Day of Proceedings - Wednesday, November 28, 1888




There are several strange rumours flying about the Court today. Some of them are very amusing. One is particularly worthy of note. It is, in effect, that there has been a revolt among the Times witnesses. The "rising" is confined to one particular class, and to that which might be supposed to have the least possible cause of complaint - the police witnesses. Some of these, so the rumour goes, have suddenly found out that the pay they receive while here is not commensurate with their duties - so arduous, by the way, that they include waiting in the corridor of the Court during the day, attending at Mr. Soames's office occasionally, and drawing their pay periodically. Accordingly they represented their grievances to Mr. Soames, but, much to their chagrin, received a rebuff, from the effects of which they are still suffering. "Yes, it's quite true that we did call upon Mr. Soames," was the reply of a tall, well-dressed, and well-fed head constable, to a query as to the truth of the rumour. "Mr. Soames didn't promise us anything extra," he added regretfully. He refused to be "drawn" as to the wages the constables are actually getting while here.
But to the business of the Commission. It was resumed at the usual hour, after a short interval caused by the non-appearance at half-past ten of various of the Times witnesses and counsel.


The first witness was a youth named Patrick Fova, who lives at Tullamore, in County Kerry. No sooner had he entered the box than Sir Charles Russell was on his feet. He had a very serious objection to make. He understood, he said, that Fova was called to give evidence of an outrage of a very serious character, which has recently occurred, and for which certain persons were awaiting their trial. Under these circumstances, he contended that such evidence should not be given.
This was Sir Henry James's view, expressed by that gentleman somewhat sharply to his colleagues.
Mr. Atkinson evidently attempted to clear away the impression that Sir Henry's observation had made by explaining that the man whose murder Fova would have spoken about took a farm some years ago and was boycotted, and that out of that old dispute the murder occurred.
"But I think Sir Charles's objection very good," interposed Sir Henry James. "I am certainly of opinion that we should not proceed, under the circumstances."


Fova accordingly vanished, and was succeeded by a Kerry farmer, with a rubicund, clean-shaven face. This was Thomas Galvey, who persisted in smiling very jovially before answering counsel's questions. He was very briefly examined. All he had to say was that his house on the estate of Lord Hedley, near Castleisland, was visited in 1880 by an armed and disguised band, and that he was shot in the legs for having paid his rent.
"Was there not a family quarrel?" was Sir Charles Russell's chief question in his cross-examination.
Galvey admitted there was, and that it arose out of his taking what he called the "agentship" of a farm for his dead brother's children.


On the supposition that Sir Charles attempted to draw the inference that the visit was due to the family quarrel, Sir Henry James asked permission to put an important question to Galvey. "Yes, ask me," interpolated Galvey with a very bland smile. The question was as to whether he made certain statements to Inspector Huggins with reference to the occurrence; but it was not persisted in owing to objections from the other side. Galvey created considerable surprise in Court by stating that 300 pounds was awarded him as compensation, but he didn't get the whole of that amount.
Huggins was standing at the end of the Q.C.'s bench while Galvey was examined, and Sir Charles, pointing to him, asked Galvey if that was the man he had conversed with. Yes, that was the individual. Had he spoken to him about his evidence? But this was too much for Sir Henry James, and on the ground that the cross-examination did not arise out the re-examination, Sir Charles was ruled out of order.


Another witness of the same class as Galvey. A tall, very well-dressed man, with peculiarly vacant-looking eyes, was Edmond Horrigan. He nervously bit his under lip, and twirled his hat in his hand. He took a farm near Listowel, from which a man named Macnamara was evicted seven or eight days before, paid his rent in the ordinary course, and was visited shortly afterwards by a disguised band, who drew him out of bed, broke his furniture, took him into the backyard, beat him, and made him swear, by kissing a book, that he'd give up the farm.
Was he not forcibly removed afterwards by a gang? - Yes.
Was not the evicted man reinstated by the gang, and re-evicted by the witness afterwards? - Yes. (This information was elicited by Sir Charles Russel.)
Head-constable Stratton added a little to the narrative of the outrage. He visited the house of Horrigan after the occurrence, found Macnamara in possession, and Horrigan's bed cut up and the feathers strewn about the field.


Edmund Brown followed. He is also a Kerry peasant farmer, living near Castleisland. He spoke with marvelous rapidity, and nervously tore the lining in his deer-stalker hat, and swayed to and fro as his examination proceeded. He was visited for an "offence" similar to that of Galvey - for taking a farm a Mrs. Horan was evicted from - by an armed band who fired into his house. He found Mrs. Horan in possession of the farm next morning and had to have her evicted again.


Brown had some vague idea that he went to a meeting of the Land League. First of all he received a letter from Timothy Horan about attending the same, but he could not say what it contained; but he was positive that after that Father Murphy told him to attend; he did so. There he was told to give up the farm, and he promised to if they would pay him 15 pounds, which he had paid when entering the farm. Father Murphy having said he would pay the amount, Brown gave up the farm, the evicted tenant was reinstated, and then, because the money was not forthcoming, he brought an action against Father Murphy, which he, however, lost.
How did that occur? - (The answer was very emphatic.) Father Murphy's promise was made provisionally. He would pay the money if it could be collected.
Did he not say that it would come from the Land League? - "Certainly not," was the effect of the reply; "nothing was said about the Land League money."


An amusing incident occurred here. Sir Chas. Russell had to correct a statement made by the Attorney-General in his opening speech. That statement was to the effect that Brown was shot.
The Attorney-General was instantly on his feet. He may have made many mistakes, he admitted, but he would like his learned friend to point this one out.
"Very well, my friend, I will do so," was the reply, and Sir Charles formally read an extract from the opening speech, which certainly bore out his assertion. It left that impression upon the President, who expressed his opinion to that effect.
"I am sure," said Sir Charles, turning to the Attorney-General, "my friend will admit he made the mistake." The Attorney-General merely repeated that he had made mistakes, but he thought, perhaps, this would not prove to be such.


Brown's cross-examination further emphasised the fact that the action against Father Murphy was dismissed, and, replying to Mr. Michael Davitt, he declared that the evictions in Kerry after the famine of 1879, were fruitful causes of disorder, and considerable discontent was caused by the landlord's encouraging the formation of very extensive holdings.


Brown was protected when in his farmstead by Sergeant O'Brien, a burly, military-looking officer of the Royal Irish Constabulary, who took his place in the box. O'Brien had to tell of a visit paid to Brown by Father Murphy and Horan, when the 15 pounds was spoken about. The result of it was that a formal document was drawn up by Father Murphy, and Brown handed the lease over to the priest.
The witness was pulled up shortly here by the President, who intimated that the evidence had gone quite far enough, and he could not see its relevancy.
Such a remark had the natural effect of causing the retreat of the worthy sergeant.
Pat Donoghue was another witness as to outrage. He took a farm given up by a man named Barry, on Lord Kenmare's estate, paying 90 pounds upon going in to the late tenant. He was raided, taken into the backyard, fired at, and beaten with something which, he told Mr. Murphy, "felt like sticks." Barry afterwards went to America, and as far as Donoghue knew he took the 90 pounds, it being paid to him, with him.


Another constable, who had been acting as the protector of a tenant-farmer named Brown, near Listowel, described the visit Brown paid to a meeting of the local branch of the League, adding that, after the meeting, as Brown came out of the house in which it was held, the secretary of the League told the police they need not protect Brown any longer, and the people cheered him.
The Kerry Sentinel was again produced, reports of certain Land League meetings being read, with the observations of the Chairman as to the conduct of certain tenants.


A bailiff, who lived about a mile from Faharies, on the estate of Lord Kenmare, in 1880, Arthur Glocester, was the next witness. His evidence went to show the action of certain disorderly gangs after a meeting of the Land League was held at Milltown, also near his residence. The night of the meeting a gang visited his house, broke in the door, and smashed the window. He declared that in 1885, after a meeting of the League at Faharies, the crowd, in returning from the meeting, "booed" outside his house. Subsequently, some cattle were seized, and, after being impounded in the village, were sold at an auction attended by Mr. Sheehan, M.P., and a large crowd of people who were very hostile.
Mr. Sheehan's name having been mentioned, Mr. Lockwood represented that, inasmuch as that gentleman was in prison at the present time, it would, perhaps, be advisable not to deal with any evidence against him.
Mr. Murphy replied that the sole object of his present course of examination was to show that Mr. Sheehan was present. He resumed the examination of Gloster, but Mr. Reid showed that evidence had already been given by Mr. Leonard, and by the outrage-book, as to certain outrages upon Gloster, even down to the "blowing of horns" in demonstration against him.
Mr. Murphy's retort was that there was a difficulty in dealing with the other side. If they would say that reports of alleged outrages given to the police would be accepted, there was an end of it, but he did not know whether they would not turn round and say, if they produced that evidence solely, that there was no actual proof of the occurrence.
However, after a brief discussion, the examination of Gloster on these lines was not proceeded with, and Mr. Murphy resumed his seat.


Sir Charles Russell cross-examined him. Gloster told of an explosion which took place near his house on June 7th, 1886. He could not say the cause of the explosion, but a gun, revolver, a pair of shoes, and an old hat were found near the scene of the explosion, which occurred in the night.
Where did the explosion take place? - About twenty-five yards away from the house.
Was it near any other house? - Not any near.
And I suppose that after the explosion you went out? - Yes, we did.
What do you mean by "we"? - Me and the police.
Oh! They were protecting you? - Yes; and they stayed in a house about twenty yards from mine.
And were they taking their rest when this explosion occurred? - Yes.
Not patrolling about? - So far as I know they weren't.


Glouster shuffled out of the box, and an aged widow, named Johanna Brown, with a voluminously-folded black shawl over her head, took his place. Her story was a very painful one. Her husband bought a townland on the estate of Colonel Rohan; and in 1882 he was shot while at work in his field, and died immediately. Two men named Barrett and Poff were executed for that murder.
Had she ever heard, asked Sir Charles Russell, that the Land League had done anything against her husband. No, she had heard nothing about it; and she told the Attorney-General that she had no difficulty after the murder in getting food.


District Inspector Rice, of the R.I.C., a smartly-dressed individual, stated that when escorting a number of prisoners who were charged with moonlighting and other similar offences to Cork Assizes, he was shot at. Upon arriving at Cork he saw a great crowd of people, amongst whom was Mr. John O'Connor, M.P., and heard the latter cheer for Poff and Barrett, who were executed for the murder of the husband of the last witness, and cry, "Down with British law!" Mr. O'Connor, according to Rice, waved his hat excitedly in the air, would drive in front of the prisoners, would get out, and again lead on the crowd by shouting remarks which, Rice thought, had a tendency to cause a breach of the peace, and would perhaps have resulted in the prisoners escaping.
The President - How were the prisoners being conveyed? - They were handcuffed, and walked between the police escort.
Mr. Lockwood - And was a hand raised against the police at all? - No. Rice went on to say that Mr. O'Connor shook hands with Dr. Brosnan, one of the prisoners, when they arrived in Cork; but he would not admit that Dr. Brosnan was acquitted, stating that there was, in his opinion, some technical informality, which resulted in his being discharged.


Very few additional facts were obtained from Rice by Mr. Davitt. He, however, made rather a sensational admission. He said that with regard to the execution of Poff and Barrett there was a very strong feeling in Kerry that they were innocent.
Rice further vouchsafed the information that as the prisoners were passing through the gates of Cork Jail, Mr. O'Connor made what Rice styled a "wild speech."
Sergeant Fawcett followed Rice. His story was similar to that of his predecessor.
Mr. Biggar asked him whether he had ever heard it suggested that at the Cork Assizes the juries were packed in order to secure a conviction.
Fawcett replied that he had never heard it suggested, but he had read it in the newspapers.
Constable Agnew, a police shorthand writer, figured in the witness-box a few minutes. He was called to depose to a certain speech made by Mr. John O'Connor, in Cork, on the 1st December, 1886, just opposite the Court-house; but as he could not produce his notes or transcript, he was at once dismissed.


Maurice Kenny, who lives at Enniskean, in the County Kerry, succeeded him. He was a tall, clean-shaven individual, who carefully carried a soft felt hat in his hand, and deposited it on the rail of the box. He added very little to the case of the Times. In almost every question put by Mr. Atkinson he replied that such and such a thing might have occurred; but "he couldn't say, sorr." All he knew was that after purchasing some hay at a boycotted auction the ear of his horse was cut off, and that fact over and over again came prominently forward. He himself afterwards became a member of the local branch of the League, and attended meetings of the League.
Were not certain people called "roasters"! - Sure and they were.
What did that mean? - "Shure and I couldn't say, Sir." This was the way in which Kenny met the questions of Mr. Atkinson.
At a meeting of the League, did you not see a list of "roasters" hung up on the wall? - Well, Sir, I couldn't knock any sinse out o' it. (Laughter.)
What did that mean? - I couldn't say, Sir. (Loud laughter.)
Mr. Atkinson at length gave up in despair. He became very stern. "I propose," he said to the Commissioners, "to examine this man from the proof he gave us."


"If you please, Sir," interrupted Kenny, "I told the gintleman what took my statement that maybe I couldn't understand his voice."
However, Mr. Atkinson proceeded to ask what Kenny really told Mr. Shannon who took his "proof." Did he tell Mr. Shannon that he was fined 1s. 6d. by the League because he spoke to a "roaster"? - Well, he might have done. "They axed me to give them 1s. 6d., and I give it them; but, faith, I never troubled myself what it was for at all." He found out, however, outside the meeting of the League, that "it was through the means" of speaking to a roaster named Bowler that he was asked to pay 1s. 6d.


Kenny exhibited a singular amount of stolidity as Mr. Atkinson continually pressed him to explain what he meant by his story to Mr. Shannon. He scratched his head thoughtfully, leant down and whispered to the usher, apparently for the purpose of obtaining the full purport of the questions, and then replied, "What did I say, Sir," amidst roars of laughter in Court.
The "list of roasters" was an especially sore point with Mr. Atkinson. Kenny had apparently given Mr. Shannon a list of persons who were described by the League as "roasters," but he now refused to acknowledge that he recollected anything about it. The name of Mr. Justin M'Carthy - not, however, the M.P. - but a tenant farmer - was one that he had "got upon the list" but Kenny could not say how it came there.
Were you not beaten yourself? - Shure, and if I was I wouldn't blame the League for it.
Who told you to say that? - My own brain, shure, Sir.
Do you know the meaning of beaten? - To be "strucked," Sir. (Laughter.) He might have been beaten, he admitted, but he didn't remember saying that three Land Leaguers attacked him.
In fact Kenny had no recollection of having said anything contained in the "proof" of his evidence.


Have you been speaking to anyone here? - No. I'm too far away from home.
Have you made a statement to anyone else? - No.
Sir Charles Russell - So far as I an concerned there is not the least foundation for saying that he has made a statement to us.
Mr. Atkinson (to the witness) - Have you been to an office in the Strand? - Shure, and I don't know any office in the Strand.
Haven't you been to the Strand? - Shure, and I have.
And what were you doing there? - Well, I was collecting seaweed. (Loud laughter.)
Sir Charles Russell came to Kenny's rescue. By the "strand" he did not mean extension thoroughfare which begins near Trafalgar-square, and terminates just outside the Law Courts. He meant the strand of the seashore, "just about a mile from his home," and it was while collecting seaweed on this bleak spot that a subpoena was served upon him to attend the Commission.


Kenny was particularly anxious about the preservation of this document. He produced it in Court. He had it pinned very carefully inside his waistcoat, in the lining of which was a small slit, hiding the piece of blue paper. It was after receiving this, he said, that he came to London.

The Court adjourned at half-past one, and after the usual interval for luncheon the redoubtable Kenny again entered the witness-box to undergo further cross-examination from Sir Charles Russell. The chief fact Kenny proved was a remarkable one. He declared that after the ear of his horse was slit he claimed compensation, and received no less than 12 pounds. He could not really say who slit the horse's ear, but, to use his expression, "he suspected the caretaker, Arthur Blennerhasset, did," from whose farm he bought the hay.


Mr. Shannon, a Dublin solicitor, was called with the view of proving Kenny's statement, which he took in the presence of a shorthand writer, at Mr. Soames's office, and Henry Holness, the shorthand writer, followed, reading the original statement of Kenny. According to this, the latter said that he was fined 1s. 6d. "for speaking to a man named Bowler," and that the men who worked for Justin M'Carthy were called "roasters."
Holness made a very valuable explanation. He asserted that the term "roaster" meant a "turnspit for landlords" - an explanation which the President attempted to practically demonstrate to his brother Judges with his pen.
Kenny further stated that he saw the list of "roasters," and all who were thus "hung" were boycotted, and he dare not work for them.


"You don't wish to ask this witness anything, I presume?" asked the Attorney-General of Sir Charles Russell.
Sir Charles Russell - I do, indeed. (To the witness): Have you any other note besides the statement of Kenny. - I have.
What is it? - Witness (reading): "This witness is most reluctant. Tries to get out of giving his evidence."
It was in the nature of a cross-examination, then? - Yes.
Would it be correct to say of this witness's statement that it was in the nature of a translation? - Yes, I would say it was.
Had Mr. Shannon a paper before him? - Yes. He had a document containing certain information - I don't know where it came from - and he reminded him of certain events, and aided his memory.
Mr. Holness retired, and Mr. Shannon re-ascended the witness-box.
The Attorney-General was about to examine him, when
The President observed - "Don't you think that the last witness is fairly representative?"
The Attorney-General - But I was thinking of the other side.
The President - One would think that this was the turning point of the case.
Sir Charles Russell represented the importance of the production of the statement Shannon was said to have had before him when speaking to Kenny.
Mr. Shannon, however, claimed that the statement contained simply instructions to counsel.
Sir Charles Russell - Where is that statement?
The Attorney-General - I do not think you are entitled to put that question.
Sir Charles Russell - Very well, I appeal to the Court. (To the witness) Is the statement in Court?
Again the Attorney-General intervened, but
The President ruled that Sir Charles Russell was in order.
Sir Charles Russell (to the witness) - Where is the statement? - It can be obtained.
Is it in Court? - It is, I believe.
Is that it in the hands of the Attorney-General (pointing to a document the Attorney-General was reading)? - I'm sure I can't say.
The Attorney-General at once rose. He explained, very excitedly, that the paper referred to contained not only a reference to Kenny's evidence, but statements which Sir Charles was not entitled to see. In a still more excited manner the Attorney-General folded up the piece of paper in his hand, and deliberately tore it across the centre.
"Don't tear the paper, Mr. Attorney," observed Sir Charles Russell.
"I take full responsibility for all I do, Sir Charles," was the reply.
The Attorney-General then handed over part of the paper to Sir Charles Russell, but no cross-examination arose upon it. A few moments later, however,
Mr. T. Harrington rose and asked Mr. Shannon the contents of the piece of paper Sir Charles Russell had not seen.
Without rising, the Attorney-General exclaimed, looking in the direction of the witness, "Don't read what the paper contains, and don't say what it contains."
He did not do so, but the Attorney-General did, the only inscription on the paper being a reference to Kenny, and the fact that the ear of his horse was slit.
At four o'clock the Court adjourned.


The London Correspondent of the Freeman's Journal says he has been told that the police witnesses in London on behalf of the Times are dissatisfied with the remuneration of double pay allowed them, and waited in a body on Mr. Soames. That gentleman received them with insult, and asked the spokesman whether he was the ringleader.


The London Correspondent of the Dublin Express hears that the police authorities have found reason for special precautions in the case of Mr. Caffrey and Mullett. It is not unlikely that their appearance in Court will be a surprise.

Source: The Echo, Wednesday November 28, 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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