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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Sat 16 Feb 2013 - 21:52

Seventy-ninth Day of Proceedings - Tuesday, May 14, 1889





The gallery presented a very congested, and the body of the court a very deserted, appearance today. But the interest does not seem to be flagging to any appreciable extent, for there is everywhere observable the old eagerness to get a seat at all costs. Among the visitors of note today were Lady Halsbury (wife of the Lord Chancellor), Mrs. Gladstone, who, for the first time, came unaccompanied by a lady friend; Lady Coleridge (wife of the Lord Chief Justice), and Mr. Shaw-Lefevre.


Father Maloney, the clean-shaven, spectacled, elderly priest from Kinvalla, in the county Galway, entered the witness-box to undergo the fire of Sir Henry James's cross-examination. The learned counsel, having ascertained the boundaries east, west, north, and south of the village of Kinvalla, appealed to the rev. Father whether, prior to the establishment of the League, there had, to his knowledge, occurred any cases of crime or outrage - a query which was met by Father Maloney declaring that he could remember no such occurrence. Father Maloney told the same story with regard to the books of the branch of which he was president as those told by several clerical predecessors in the box. His branch certainly kept a book, a sort of minute-book, but it was not kept in any methodical manner, though the witness admitted that if any persons were condemned for acting contrary to the opinion of the League, that condemnation was inscribed in its pages. But beyond that he could not assist the Court. The books and all pertaining to the conduct of the League disappeared when the League was suppressed. They had never been seen since, and, so far as he knew, might, or might not, be in existence now. Possibly, the then secretary had them.


Sir Henry reverted to the rev. Father's assertion about the chronicling of condemnation, and Father Maloney explained very emphatically that he misunderstood Sir Henry's former question, and wished to explain that no condemnation in the ordinary acceptation of the term, ever was inserted, though if the conduct of a landlord was the subject of animadversion, the remarks were, of course, included in the minutes of the meeting. Landlords were, it seems, condemned when an eviction had been carried out by them through the non-payment of an unjust rent. Upon the insertion in the reply of the word "unjust" there was a little wrangle. Why did the witness use the word when it was not included in the rules? Oh, the Committee of the League decided whether the rent was just or unjust.
Had he ever heard of any Land League branch declaring any rent, however low it might be, just? Was it not a fact that the Land League always condemned rents as "unjust"? - "No," was the reply, and the witness gave one instance - the case of a Michael Sullivan, a tenant of Count de Bastro, in the county Galway.


Sir Henry James next interrogated the rev. Father concerning the condemnation by the League of a man named Thomas Conolly for supplying information to a landlord "by which the tenants were subjected to landlord tyranny." Father Maloney admitted that a resolution to that effect might have been passed at a Land League meeting over which he presided. Connolly was, he afterwards added, summoned before the League, and that condemnation was then put upon him. Those proceedings, he believed, were entered in a book. That occurred in 1885. Thomas Connolly was shot at in March, 1888. He, however, was still living in witness's district, but the outrage occurred outside the district. An attempt was also made to boycott a tenant named John Bermingham; he lived near Ardrahan, and subsequently he heard that he had been outraged. A man in his (witness's) district was boycotted for shoeing Mr. Bermingham's horses.


"It was only the blackguards of the town," Father Maloney added, "who boycotted him, and not the respectable people."
A file of the Tuam News was here produced, and Sir Henry James read a report of the proceedings of the Kinvaragh branch of the Land League, to show that a number of persons were boycotted by the Land League for voting against the popular candidate at an election. One of these extracts denounced a family of Kennedy's as "the Kennedy hogs, male and female." Sir Henry asked the father what he called a "male hog." The reply was exceedingly piquant. First of all Father Maloney said he took it as a term of disgrace, but, being pressed, he added that it was applied to a "man who discharged the duties of a female occasionally." (Loud laughter.)
A second resolution denounced certain persons who went from the parish of Kilvalla into an adjoining one and tilled the land of an evicted farm as "selfish, dirty, ignorant, and unprincipled scoundrels." This resolution, Father Maloney pointed out, was passed by the branch of the League in the parish where the land was tilled, and, therefore, he was not responsible, a contention with which the learned counsel concurred.
But Sir Henry pursued the point. Did the witness consider it proper language to be used in reference to his parishioners? Did he take steps to resent the statement? Father Maloney declared that he would not have used such strong language, that he never resented its application to his parishioners, nor its publication, and that the persons to whom it was applied were guilty of the offence alleged against them.


Sir Charles Russell re-examined Father Maloney, who stated that when a charge was made against a member or non-member of the League, he was notified as to the nature of the charge, and was summoned to attend before the League. In March, of 1888, at the time when Connolly was shot at, the district was in a disturbed condition owing to a number of writs having been served upon the tenants. Both Bermingham and Connolly acted as bailiffs. The League, however, had nothing to do with the attack on Connolly in 1888.
Sir Henry James supplemented his cross-examination by questioning Father Maloney regarding an attempt on the life of another bailiff in 1888. The witness admitted that he had heard of that outrage, but he afterwards told Sir Charles Russell that he had very grave doubts about it. He said the bailiff came to him, and told him he had been shot in the head with small grain shot. He did not go to the doctors, but picked out the shot with his fingers. He did not, however, show witness the wound. He had been, he added, brought over here as a witness for the Times, but had not been called.


John Kennedy was the next witness. He is the Chairman of the Town Council at Loughrea. He told Mr. Lionel Hart that he had been a member of the Land League since it was started, that he was a vice-president of the body - a position he also held in the National League. This witness averred that nearly all the respectable people in the parish belonged to the League. In 1881 Sergeant Lynton was murdered, and the League denounced that murder. The League also denounced outrages. Sergeant Lynton, added the Town Councillor, was said to have been over officious in his duty.
When cross-examined by Atkinson, Mr. Kennedy said at once that he knew that seven undetected murders occurred around Loughrea within fourteen months. All the murders were mentioned, one after the other, by the cross-examining counsel; but Kennedy denied all knowledge of either of them, and asserted that he believed the murders had nothing whatever to do with the land movement. Sergeant Lynton he again described as "over officious."
As regards this murder Kennedy pointed out, in re-examination by Sir Charles Russell, that a man named Clarke and his wife were charged with it, and Clarke was not a tenant farmer, but a publican. Turning his attention to the "suspect" period, Kennedy said twenty-three persons, mostly members of the Land League, were arrested one morning. In fact - said he in a parenthesis - he was arrested himself, and got "three days for he didn't know what!" (Laughter.) It was after these wholesale arrests that the murders occurred.
"So far as you know," asked Sir Charles, "is there any ground for suggesting that the funds of your branch were utilised for payment for crime?" - "There is no ground at all."
Returning again to his three days of prison experience, Kennedy explained that he was not arrested during the "suspect" period, but in 1888, for displaying a placard announcing Mr. W. O'Brien's visit to the neighbourhood. (Laughter.)
You are responsible for this poor man's imprisonment," whispered Mr. Harrington sotto voce to Mr. O'Brien across the solicitor's table, while Kennedy stepped out of the box.


Bartholomew Calavan, the next witness, was a short, ruddy-faced gentleman, with sandy "side-boards." He had the appearance of a well-to-do village trader, and wore a scrupulously clean collar and a trim suit of dark check. He deposed, in a very sharp, decisive way, to the rentals on the estate of a Mr. Bottrell, near Tuam. The figures he gave were remarkable as showing the extraordinary increase put upon several of the rentals. Here are some: -

ORIGINAL RENT.................................. RAISED TO.
Pounds s. d........................................ Pounds s. d.

11 18 1................................................17 0 0
6 14 11................................................11 0 0
7 0 1...................................................11 7 0
1 8 2...................................................2 7 3
1 5 0...................................................2 17 0
1 0 0...................................................2 0 0
7 4 0...................................................18 0 0
6 12 0.................................................12 0 0
7 3 0...................................................15 0 0

Calavan gave particulars of the formation of the League in his district; denied that it was ever associated with crime; produced a book - the first book produced on the part of the accused - which contained the accounts of the League from its inception; and denied that the branch had ever held a Land League court.


Calavan also produced a Land League book. This contained the minutes of the League meetings, and also an account of the expenditure of the moneys of the League. This expenditure was mainly on account of furniture, rent, printing, and for sending delegates to Dublin. The National League book was next produced. In this book a resolution of the League, passed on the 24th of January, 1886, was recorded, condemning a number of tenants who had first joined their fellow tenants in demanding a fair rent from the landlords, and had afterwards taken a different course. Those tenants were expelled from the League. Calavan added that they did not resort to boycotting, but expelled offenders from the League. The book also recorded that two men were expelled for paying their rent and not joining "the common cause." Calavan, however, declared that nothing of an injurious nature happened to those men. All the tenants (Calavan proceeded) were willing to pay their rent if they got a fair reduction. Still another resolution was read from the book, in which a number of persons were declared to be "vultures flying about the parish in search of small pieces of pasture land," and who, when they found a piece of land, "gobbled it up with tiger-like ferocity." (Laughter.)
The Court here adjourned for luncheon.


Upon resuming, Mr. Atkinson took Calavan in hand for cross-examination purposes. The latter was examined as to the outrages committed in the locality prior to 1879; but could afford no information beyond the facts that a great quantity of turf was ruthlessly destroyed one night, and a donkey's ear was clipped off.
Mr. Atkinson read a few extracts from the minutes of the League. Some of the "orders," and resolutions, and decisions were very characteristic. For instance, one was that several people should be cut off from the "branch like a rotten limb, so that they might never know him any more," and the copies of the local paper containing the names of these people should be bought, and sent to their friends in foreign lands, so that they might know which the renegades were. Another denounced people who "like vultures swooped down upon the village in search of small pieces of land," and upon finding a piece "gobbled it up with tiger-like ferocity." (Laughter.) After being denounced it was recorded in the minutes of a subsequent meeting that the individual was again "putting out his horns like a snail."
Asked what was meant by the decision to send the newspaper containing the "black list" to foreign countries, Calavan explained that "the object was just to shame them a little."
The "vulture incident" was reverted to by Mr. A. O'Connor, Calavan telling him that the resolution was never published.
"So, as a matter of fact," observed Mr. O'Connor, "it was simply an innocent piece of rhetoric, which relieved the feelings, and did no harm to anybody." (Laughter.)


Next we come to the murder of Lord Mountmorres, and the circumstances surrounding that most brutal affair. The topic was introduced by Edward Jennings, a heavily-bearded gentleman, attired in a dark suit, and displaying a brilliant red handkerchief. Jennings, when asked his occupation, said he was "a commission agent and a householder." He gave no information about the Mountmorres murder, save in telling us he remembered it. He informed us that he was the original secretary of the local branch of the Land League, and stated that this was not his first visit to London. He was subpoenaed at the latter part of last year by the Times; he was kept here in London for five weeks, despite his writing and asking counsel to call him; but he never appeared in the box at all.


The Attorney-General directed the earlier portion of his cross-examination to the Land League. The witness said he had collected the subscriptions for the League, but the branch was so weak that he did not get much money. Some of it was sent to the head office and some of it was spent in the defence of tenants who were innocent. Asked to explain what he meant by this phrase, the witness said that the tenants near Clonbar were sometimes prosecuted for "pulling" or cutting the heather. As the League considered the tenants had a right to the heather the League defended them.
"Now was there any boycotting in Clonbar?" - "Only one case in 1882," said the witness, "and I was imprisoned for it; but I had as much to do with it as his Lordship there" (pointing to Sir James Hannen, amid laughter). Jennings added, that "there had been a great many outrages in the neighbourhood of Clonbar."
(The report will be continued.)


A Killarney Correspondent of the Irish Times gives a curious instance of boycotting. He says that last fair day a dealer, who last summer sold cattle to Lord Kenmare's steward, and subsequently bought for him, was rigorously avoided, and strangers were told off to prevent the country people from having any dealings with him. An extensive cattle dealer, who is a tenant of part of the Kenmare demesne, for grazing purposes, has yielded to pressure, and given notice that he must remove his sheep next week.


The Exchange Telegraph Company is authorised to say that the statement in the morning papers that matters in connection with the Olphert estate have been referred to arbitration is premature. Mr. Olphert has given authority to no one to act on his behalf. It is therefore inaccurate to say that the pending evictions have been deferred in consequence.

Source: The Echo, Tuesday May 14, 1889, Pages 2-3

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

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