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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Tue 19 Feb 2013 - 22:29

Eighty-second Day of Proceedings - Friday, May 17, 1889



During the whole time the Commission has been sitting the Court has never been so drearily deserted as in the earlier portion of today. The Jury-box afforded accommodation for only two ladies - Mrs. Gladstone and a friend. Mrs. Lecky had a seat in the Press-box, and Lord and Lady Lawrence sat parallel with the judicial bench. The gallery was comfortably filled, but there was a marked absence of that eagerness to secure seats formerly observable.


Father White, the Catholic priest of Miltown Malbay, in the Woodford district, again entered the box. Sir Henry James resumed his cross-examination. The murder of the old man Lenane, employed by a Mrs. Moroney as a herd, was described by the father as one of the greatest blows the organisation had ever received. On the eve of an arrangement being effected between Mrs. Moroney and her tenants, the old man was shot dead while sitting by his kitchen fire. The general opinion was that it was done with the deliberate object of preventing the arrangement being come to. It had that effect. Several arrests followed, the accused were remanded from time to time, and ultimately were defended by a solicitor, "presumably," as the Father put it, "engaged by the branch of the league." Dealing with the events following the suppression of the League, Father White said he was not ashamed to confess that directly after that step was taken by the authorities he took the responsibility of receiving subscriptions for the purpose of defending prisoners, and helping the cause of the tenants generally. Here Father White corrected the impression made upon the Court by the statement that the League defended men charged with the murder of Lenane. The arrests made immediately after the murder were under Mr. Forster's Act, and he was positive they were in no way connected with the murder. Passing on, Father White admitted that after the suppression of the League, meetings were held, and that he knew the person who sent reports of them to United Ireland. But he appealed to the Court not to be compelled to give the name, as such an act is, Mr. Reid pointed out, made a criminal offence.
Sir Henry James did not press the question.


These were among the chief points adduced in re-examination: - The people of Miltown expressed abhorrence at the murder of Lenane; they, in fact, considered it a brutal and cowardly outrage. The League had nothing to do with it. With regard to the Ladies' Land League, he did not believe that it had any complicity with crime.
As to the boycotting of Mrs. Moroney, that lady, said the Father, owned some property and had about forty-seven tenants. Of that number forty were leaseholders, and did not come under the Land Act of 1881. The other seven went into the Land Court, and obtained a reduction of 40 per cent. The remainder of the tenants, under a recent Act, had also obtained a reduction of 25 per cent. Those tenants were, however, compelled to take the lease of their farms in 1854-5 at a rent at twice the Government valuation. They were to suffer under that burden for 99 years. The tenants were exceedingly poor, and could not even clothe themselves. The murdered man had in fact, told Father White that he could not attend church because he was unable to clothe himself. Mrs. Moroney evicted many of her tenants because they were unable to pay those rents, and afterwards levelled the houses.


Then the rev. Michael O'Donovan, who was the Catholic curate at Tulla from 1866 to 1882, appeared in the box. The Father had been president of the Land League at Tulla. "Did the League meet with any opposition?" "Oh, yes; the League was opposed by the Moonlighters; he himself was openly threatened by these gentlemen, and ultimately the League, which denounced the outrages, was dissolved in consequence of the continued receipt of threatening notices." The Father was acquainted with the condition of the tenantry on Major Mahoney's estate. For the most part, they were wretchedly poor, and only about six of them were able to pay their rent. Twenty-five out of the one hundred tenants were evicted in 1882. One tenant, named Hanraghan, was evicted, and died. The poor fellow caught cold while lying in the ditches after being evicted.


In cross-examination, Father Donovan made an important statement. Speaking of the outrages in the neighbourhood, he said he knew the chief of the Moonlighters in the neighbourhood, and had over and over again had private conversations with him, in the course of which he had tried to persuade not to act in such a manner. It was of no avail, and ultimately the man fled the country. Continuing, the Father said he had heard of "Captain Moonlight" as far back as 1845. He had also known of the existence of the Fenian Society since 1868. There was, he added, amid laughter - "no chance of converting a Fenian." During the time of the Land League, public meetings were held, and the young men of the neighbourhood attended them, but they came for "intimidating purposes." He meant by that that if they did not get their own way they threatened the Leaguers.


In his re-examination, Father Donovan impressed on the Court that on forty succeeding Sundays he denounced outrages of every kind, being extremely anxious that the younger members of his flock should not be brought into contact with those who were guilty of the outrages.


John Hanneffy next entered the witness-box. He hails from co. Galway, and lives near Riversville, where Peter Dempsey resided. It was - he told Mr. A. Russell - untrue to say that on the day of the funeral of Dempsey - who was murdered while he was going to mass - bonfires and torchlights were placed on the hilltops.
Hanneffy told Mr. Atkinson, that Dempsey had taken an evicted farm, but he could not suggest any reason for the murder. Dempsey was not boycotted after he took the farm. Neither was Mrs. Dempsey boycotted; certainly he (witness) never went to see her, nor did anyone else that he knew of. "Why?" asked Mr. Atkinson. - "Perhaps they weren't asked," was the reply. She had a man-servant working on her farm, and Hanneffy had seen him working with two policemen standing by him. Certainly he could not say who they were protected from.
Hanneffy emphatically declared to Mr. Reid in his re-examination that the Land League, of which he was a member, did not encourage the murder and did not sympathise with it. The brother of the murdered man was actually a member of the Land League at the time, and was now the secretary of the National League.


Patrick Keogh followed Hanneffy. He lives at Kiltulla, and his evidence was to prove that Mrs. Connor was not boycotted after her husband was murdered. He himself worked for Mrs. Connor, as did also several other men in the neighbourhood. They were, he averred, never annoyed or interfered with for working for her. Connor was, he added, a well-known member of the League.
The Court at this point adjourned for luncheon.


On resuming, some little amusement was caused by a discussion as to the sobriquet by which James Connor, who, the Times alleges, was boycotted in the locality, and was subsequently murdered, was generally known. He was called "Jimmy Mairaiche," but the witness confessed he could not interpret that formidable appellation.
Mr. Reid came to his rescue. He was informed it meant "Jimmy, the son of Mary." "However," he added, amidst loud laughter, "Put it to him in Irish, and he will tell you."
Sir Henry James confessed his inability so to do, and accordingly left the point undecided.
The witness (continuing) denied that he knew Mrs. Connor was boycotted after the murder, or that he knew the police had to procure the necessaries of life for her. "Was she protected after the murder by the police?" "Yes, she certainly was; but," he added, "begorra I couldn't tell you why it was." (Laughter.) The witness caused much laughter as he went on. For instance, asked who the president of the local branch of the League was, he assured Sir Henry that he couldn't tell him. "I joined when I wanted to, that's all I know," he said.


Father Bodkin, who comes from Mullogh, was next examined. The Land League, he told Mr. Reid, was started in the district in 1881, and all the respectable people in the neighbourhood joined it. Certainly neither the Land League nor the National League had any connection with crime. The rev. Father emphatically denied that there was any truth in the statement that the "Moonlighters" were the secret police of the League. He gave details as to the starving condition of the tenantry in 1879 and 1880. It was (he added) the oppression by the landlords that led to crime. It was not true that at any Land League meeting it was said that "Pat Kennedy's two dogs would be eating him." Kennedy had taken an evicted farm, and was certainly censured by the League. He was partially boycotted, but there was no intimidation.
Sir Henry James directed Father Bodkin's attention to the first time a complaint was made against Kennedy. The witness remembered the circumstance; it was early in 1881. Kennedy took a farm, and thus turned out a poor woman and her five children. They were thrown on the world to this day. The landlord was a rack-renting landlord, and raised the rent every time he got a new tenant. Kennedy's action was condemned, but he was not interfered with in any way. Father Bodkin, however, admitted that he had heard that Kennedy was under police protection from 1881 to 1883. He did not think there was any need for it.
In re-examination, Father Bodkin gave it as his opinion that had there been more evictions there would have been more outrages. As a matter of fact, the land-grabber was the root of all evil - agrarian evil, at all events - in Ireland, for he stepped in and took the farm over the head of a poor tenant, paying a higher price, and turning him out.


John Nolan, an elderly gentlemen, having an iron-grey beard, and wearing a long frock coat, was the next witness. He lives at Ballynoonan, in the County Galway, and has had an intimate association with Ireland for over twenty years. Replying to Mr. Hart, he told the Court he had heard of outrages long prior to the establishment of the League. When the League was formed in the locality he believed it had the effect of preventing outrage.
The Commission soon afterwards adjourned.


The Freeman's Journal London Correspondent today says: - Mr. H. Campbell, M.P., Mr. Parnell's secretary, acting on Mr. Parnell's instructions, has placed in the hands of Mr. Parnell's solicitors, for transmission to Mr. Soames, his correspondence from 1881 to 1888 inclusive. This disclosure should satisfy the President, whose estimate of the value and importance of the correspondence seems to have risen remarkably.


The Exchange Telegraph Company is informed on the best authority that no hope is now entertained that the report on the Parnell Commission will be made known during this year. The Commissioners will require time to consider all the facts, and it is practically certain that as the Report must be presented during the sitting of Parliament, its contents will not be made known until February, 1890.


The controversy between Mr. Gladstone and Mr. Curzon anent the death of the man Kinsella is renewed today. Mr. Curzon returns to the attack. He expresses his pleasure at having drawn from Mr. Gladstone the assurance that he never stated, nor even mentally thought himself justified in concluding that Freeman was guilty of causing the death. He says, "I feel happy in having extracted for the unfortunate bailiff (who was a bailiff after all) this tardy retractation, though I am a little apprehensive of relying upon what may turn out only to be a presumption, and of having ignored some balancing qualification.

Source: The Echo, Friday May 17, 1889, Page 3

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

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