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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Sat 27 Oct 2012 - 15:22

Thirty-ninth Day of Proceedings - Friday, January 25, 1889



The reading of columns of political speeches, containing statements and comments made some years ago, is certainly not an interesting, though a novel, form of entertainment. Perhaps this accounts for the deserted appearance of the Commission Court this morning, when the proceedings were resumed. The speeches of Nationalist politicians, delivered in the initial and earlier stages of the Land League and National League agitation, have been collected by the Times, and those passages upon which they rely as being pertinent to their case have been carefully marked. Yesterday the wearisome task of reading them through from beginning to end commenced. How long it will last nobody seems to know, but judging by the great heap of printed matter lying beneath Sir Henry James's hand, standing at least a foot high, it must occupy fully five days. But there is one feature in the proceeding which relieves it slightly of monotony. It is this. The Times counsel read portions of the speeches on which they rely, and the counsel for the Nationalists read those portions which appear to be a set-off.


When the Court adjourned last night, it was understood counsel on either side would confer together, and endeavour to come to some arrangement whereby the speeches might be "taken as read."
All hope of so arranging has, however, been destroyed. Sir Henry James, directly the Court met, rose and said he had conferred with the other side on the matter. He was afraid the speeches must be partially read; but of course they would excise as much as possible and as much as they thought immaterial. The speeches formed a most important part of the evidence against the other side. If not read now they must be called attention to when the speech in reply was delivered, because they contained statements which, the Times contended, showed that the speakers had counselled their hearers to commit various acts.
Mr. Reid, in the absence of Sir Charles Russell, pointed out that if Sir Henry James read the portions of the speeches they had selected, of course it was impossible for his clients to refrain from reading other portions.


The President recognised that that was what lead to the difficulty. Sir Henry called attention to what he relied upon, and the other side naturally read the passage which qualified it. "Have you," he exclaimed, "reflected that, as a matter of calculation, it will take a week or ten days to go through all these speeches."
Sir Henry James hoped it would not take that time, but admitted that it would take some days. He, however, pointed out that if this was an ordinary legal inquiry they would put in the documents, but it was a public inquiry, and the speeches were most important factors in the case for the Times, and if not put in would leave the tale half told. He would read what he relied upon, and the other side could mark theirs, and, of course, also read it.
The President - I have said all I can say on the subject.
Mr. Reid - I have no doubt after a few days it will be adopted. I regret it can't be now.


So the reading was resumed. Sir Henry James led off with a few chosen sentences from a speech made by Mr. Healy, on the 24th October, 1880, at Castletown, in the county Cork. In the course of his remarks, Mr. Healy, referring to the fact that several outrages, such as the maiming of cattle and the destruction of hay, had occurred in the neighbourhood, said the denunciation of such crimes should be left to those most interested. Mentioning a certain case in which the tails of several oxen had been cut off, he said that a veterinary surgeon told him the tails had apparently been cut off by a sword bayonet, and added, "Perhaps the officers at the barracks wanted to have some ox-tail soup." A speech by Mr. Parnell, delivered on the 9th November, 1880, in Ulster, was the next of importance. Mr. Parnell told the tenants whom he there addressed to combine together to cut away landlordism root and branch. They did not wish to fix the rents. They wanted to reduce, and finally abolish them. How could they do it? By combining among themselves. If they combined, landlordism must go down before them.


The speeches of the redoubtable "Scrab" Nally were also produced. An extract from one delivered by "Scrab" on the 16th of May, 1880, contained various epithets applied to landlords generally. He advised the people to banish landlords out of the country, and, referring to the land-grabber, said there was not a greater criminal in existence than the man who took the land of the widow. If they saw a mad dog, would they not hound him down? If they saw the hungry wretch of a grabber, ought they not to drive him from society? P.J. Gordon, speaking in Galway on 20th June, 1880, advised his hearers to "stick to the pledge they had given, and take no land from which a person had been evicted." He especially asked the "young blood" to put up their hands and say they would fight for the land of their birth, and to be to the land of their birth what Allen, Larkin, and O'Brien were. They went to the scaffold, and the last words they said were "God save Ireland."
A set-off to this was read from the speech by Mr. Lockwood. Mr. Gordon denied most emphatically that he had ever had sympathy with the assassin. Landgrabbing and grabbers was also denounced by Mr. R.D. Walsh, of Tuam, on the 5th of September, 1880. He advised the people to point the finger of scorn at such a man, and then "the world and the people of the place must point him out as the reptile who disgraced his name."


A man named Hubon - now heard of for the first time - delivered a speech at Riversdale on the 19th September, 1880. He spoke to a resolution condemning landlords. Mr. A. O'Connor read a portion of the speech specially selected as favouring the cause he represents. It ran thus: - "Never, never, let the shadow of the assassin's curse dawn upon your homes. Fight fearlessly, fight like men, and fight like men of honour. Let there be no cowardice about you." Another speaker at this meeting indulged in poetry. This was Mr. M.M. O'Sullivan. Speaking of Merty Hymes, to denounce whom the meeting was called, he said he would not pray, with the poet, "that earth may refuse him a home, and Heaven a God," but he would prefer that he should remain among them "a marked man."


Another speech by P.J. Gordon followed. This was delivered at a place called Abbeyknockmoy on October 3rd, 1880. Gordon was reported to have said when he arrived at Clonbar he was pleased to hear that a great landlord had been murdered - or had shot himself. He did not approve of murdering anybody, but he could not forget the Government of England did not go into mourning when the Irish people were in distress.
Mr. Reid observed that he thought there must be some mistake in the report. It appeared to him that the words after "he was pleased to hear" were not sequential, and he asked that the witness who proved it might be called.
Sir Henry James promised to make a note of the request.
Another 1880 speech of Mr. Parnell, at Galway, was produced by Sir Henry James. It contained few pertinent remarks, the only sentences of interest being apparently those in which Mr. Parnell urged upon every tenant that, while he maintained a firm hold on their holdings, they should do their utmost to break down the English regime in Ireland.


Another of Mr. Matt Harris's speeches, made in October, 1880, referred to the wholesale breaking up of rural homes by large landlords. He said when he looked at the result of these landlords' actions he asked himself what was worst; that a landlord should be shot down, or that thousands of poor people should be banished from their fair land. "If the tenant farmers of Ireland shot down the landlords as partridges were shot down in November then Matt Harris would never say one word against them."

Mr. Lockwood called attention to the fact that the chairman of this meeting dissented from these remarks, whereupon Mr. Harris rose and explained that the expression he had made had been misinterpreted. He really meant that if he saw landlords shot down he would not, as he had done in his earlier days, go out and denounce the crime.
Sir Henry James read a subsequent speech, in which Mr. Harris, referring to the incident, repeated this explanation. He said in addition, however, that, when making the observation about shooting down landlords he had in his mind the figures of the ruthless exterminator and his poor victims, and he meant - in making use of that unhappy expression - to say that he would not stay the hand of one while the other was allowed to carry on his system of extermination ruthlessly.


The first speech read from the County Kerry was one made by Mr. Parnell at Beaufort, in which he said that the spirit of determination was taking hold upon the people, who would no longer allow themselves to be exterminated, with or without the law. He also said that their fellow-countrymen in America would assist them. In fact, in the States he had found that there was the greatest anxiety to help them. He therefore asked them to band themselves together and organise against the landlord system. In a speech which he subsequently made, Mr. Biggar said it was no part of the duty of the Land League to advise the shooting of landlords, and they never had so advised. If, however, anyone was charged with shooting or offering violence to a landlord, the Land League would see that that person got a fair trial.


Speaking at Kildare, in August 1880, Mr. J. Dillon asked the people two pick out two men who were not afraid of any man, and send them round with a book, and ask everybody to join the League, thus finding out who refused, and who had turned their backs upon the people. He further said that the representatives of the Irish people in Parliament would see that their people should be provided with rifles.
Mr. Reid observed that the Irish Secretary attacked Mr. Dillon upon that speech in the House of Commons shortly afterwards, and he would be able to produce "Hansard," showing how Mr. Dillon amplified and explained it.
Sir Henry James - I have no objection to its production.
In a speech made by Michael Boyton, in the county Kildare, 1880, occurred a very singular sentence. Denouncing landgrabbers, he told the people to beware of the "rank weeds that were growing on the green soil that was once pressed by the blessed footsteps of St. Bridget."


After luncheon, Sir Henry James produced another of M. O'Sullivan's speeches. It was delivered at Ballymena, and in the course of it O'Sullivan described the land-grabber as a tiger. "Ah!" said he, "he is worse than a tiger - he is a moral tiger, who sucks the blood of the little ones." J.W. Walsh, too, at Ballinagare, in 1880, advised the people to let the land-grabber "whither under the people's curse." At a meeting at which Mr. Parnell and Mr. Boyton were present, Mr. Dillon made a speech, in which he said they proposed to show the Irish landlords that the people of Ireland had the power to dictate to them as to what rent they would pay - and they would pay no more.
(The report will be continued.)


Mr. Lawlor proprietor of the Imperial Hotel, Dublin, writes to the Dublin Express that Mr. O'Brien was not residing in the hotel at the time mentioned by the witness Farragher before the Parnell Commission, nor had he ever seen Mr. O'Brien until he came to reside there on the 15th of April, 1882.

A Kerry paper has received news that a few days ago a donkey belonging to a poor labouring man named Brosnan was found in the village of Dromartin in a dying state, a piece of timber having been driven into its stomach.

Source: The Echo, Friday January 25, 1889, Page 3

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

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