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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Tue 30 Oct 2012 - 10:56

Forty-second Day of Proceedings - Thursday, January 31, 1889



Lord Mountmorres' murder was the first topic of interest touched upon at the Commission today. It arose in the course of the evidence of John Farrell, a constable of the R.I.C. In fact, this person was called solely for the purpose of substantiating the statements of the man Burke, who, in the earlier stages of the Commission, during his evidence as to the murder, amused the Court by giving evasive answers in the well-worn phrase, "It might, and it might not." Farrell corroborated Burke's statement as to the movements of certain men mentioned by him, at Clonbar, on the day of the murder. He added also that the day after the murder there was a public demonstration at Clonbar, part of the arrangement of which consisted in marching around the square in the town.


"A sort of military evolution?" essayed Sir Charles Russell.
Farrell acquiesced, adding that some of the persons taking part in the demonstration carried banners, and some pieces of wood painted and carved so as to represent guns. He went on to say that he knew Lord Mountmorres, who was frequently in and out amongst the people.
Have you ever heard that Lord Mountmorres boasted of being in communication with Dublin Castle?
The Attorney-General - I must object to that, my Lord.
The President - I think it admissible, because it may be argued that the murder was not due to agrarian causes.
The question having been repeated, Farrell replied that he had heard frequently that Lord Mountmorres was supposed to be in communication with the Castle. Lord Mountmorres, he added, associated with the people of the neighbourhood the same as any other man, but he had never heard he was in the habit of drinking with the men of the locality, though it was currently reported he was in very poor circumstances.


Michael Roche, a tall, intelligent-looking man, whose chief characteristic was his remarkable volubility, followed Farrell. Having told the Court he "lived within ten miles of the town of Tralee and a half of Causeway," he said that, after paying his rent, notwithstanding the injunction of the League to the contrary, his house and outbuildings were burned down. When he applied for compensation, several members of the League opposed the claim, and "went very hard indade against me."
Roche caused considerable amusement. He was the individual whom James Buckley, a previous witness, confessed to having attempted to murder. The charge in the revolver was damp, and missed fire. Now, however, Roche declared most positively that he heard the "shots fired," but upon being asked by counsel and the President to explain he assured them that he "only heard the clicks, but he thought it was the bullets." In fact, he really thought he was shot, and, with that impression fresh upon him, he rushed off to the police-station "with his hand in his hat" - "'My hat in my hand,' I should say, sir," he corrected himself - and Buckley was apprehended, the result being that he was only bound over to keep the peace, owing to the discrepancies in Roche's evidence about the "clicks" and "bullets."
Asked by Sir Charles Russell who brought him to London, "A summons and a 5 pound note, sorr," retorted Roche, amidst laughter. "I'll show ye th' summons, sorr," he voluntarily added.
- "I suppose you couldn't show me the 5 pound note?" suggested Sir Charles. "Indade, I couldn't, for I paid a lot away. I bought a return ticket, and I'll show it ye," hastily unbuttoning his waistcoat and drawing forth a railway ticket from a curiously secreted pocket in the lining.
Told not to run on in a rambling way, he retorted, "Well, shure, and I'm going to put the facts before the Judges from the beginning to the end." This drew a severe rebuke from the President, and Roche endeavoured to check his volubility. It was all ineffectual, for in two moments he was rushing on with remarkable speed, giving a long and eloquent account of every incident connected with Buckley's attack upon him.


Several serio-comic incidents that stand out in bold relief in Roche's comparatively brief life came out as the cross-examination proceeded. He apologetically admitted that he had, more than once, exhibited a partiality for strong liquor, and that, in consequence, the police who stayed on his premises to protect him had summoned him over and over again for drunkenness. But then, he explained, all that was not the result of his own weakness; it was the work of his enemies - men who were always endeavouring to "trap him." It might be he had appeared at the local police-court twenty-eight times on charges of drunkenness; but he "never took a note of it."
Elaborating the explanation given to Sir Charles, he told the Attorney-General that the police were obliged to apprehend the man who they were protecting if they found him the worse for drink.
"It was part of the special protection," jocularly remarked the President.
Thomas Sheehy deposed to seeing a revolver in the possession of Buckley the day he attacked Roche. To Sir Charles Russell, he said he would scarcely believe Buckley, even if he made an assertion on oath.


Captain Slack, who was examined at the latter end of last week, was recalled, and Sir Charles Russell continued his cross-examination. Captain Slack said that since he was last in the witness-box he had been over to Ireland and brought back an official list of cases in which persons who had been referred to in speeches of the Land League meetings, and denounced, were afterwards outraged. A case particularly mentioned was that of a man named Murphy, who took an evicted farm in 1884. A National League meeting was afterwards held for the purpose of denouncing "landgrabbing," and Father Burke recommended that Murphy should be boycotted. The recommendation was adopted, and in March of 1885 an unoccupied house and some hay belonging to him were burned.
At this point the Court adjourned for luncheon.
(The report will be continued.)


It is current talk in Court that Tuesday, Wednesday, and Thursday of next week will form the most important and most interesting epoch in this historical trial. Upon Tuesday the all-important letters will, it is expected, be reached. The evidence and the cross-examination of those witnesses who give testimony bearing upon them will extend over three days. Already an extraordinary number of applications have been received for seats on those days, and the Secretary and his assistants are very busily engaged in coping with the various letters. It is expected that the Princess Louise, who, some days ago, would have been present but for unforeseen circumstances, will visit the Court on one of the three days, and occupy a seat in the public gallery.

Source: The Echo, Thursday January 31, 1889, Page 3

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

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