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Parnell Commission Inquiry

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Parnell Commission Inquiry

Post by Karen on Tue 26 Feb 2013 - 3:45


At the commencement of the proceedings today the Attorney-General expressed a desire to clear up a few matters connected with the Abbedaughney Branch of the National League. In the first place he referred to the case of Conway, who has already informed the Court that he was summoned before the League Court to answer for having taken an evicted farm. The learned counsel produced the letter summoning Conway, and then recalled the man O'Connor, who at the time was secretary of the League. O'Connor yesterday produced some minute-books of the League. From these the Attorney-General read several extracts. Amongst them was a letter sent by O'Connor to neighbouring branches of the League, in which he asked their co-operation in an attempt to induce more persons to become members, by forbidding people to hire thrashing machines except from those who were members of the League.


Mr. Reid added a little information, which put a somewhat different complexion on the letter from O'Connor. He obtained the assertion that Mr. T. Harrington had written to them complaining of the nature of the resolutions they habitually passed. In this letter Mr. Harrington said that if the branch could not to useful work for the cause, and could only pass stupid and malicious resolutions it would be better if its doors were closed altogether.


The Killarney grocer, Mr. Lynes, who was under examination last night when the Court rose, was again called.
Mr. Davitt put a few questions to him. Mr. Lynes gave it as his opinion that crime in Ireland was principally due to agrarian causes, and was of an agrarian character. Mr. Lynes made an important declaration as to the attitude of the landlord class to the Nationalists. Since he had joined the National League, he said, the landlords had ceased to deal with him, and in some cases even refused to associate with him.


The Rev. Father Lawlor, who is parish priest at Killoglin, in the county Kerry, described the condition of the locality prior to the establishment of the Land League. "Considering the distress," he said, "considering the poverty of the people, and considering the attitude of the landlords, we regarded it as absolutely necessary that there should be some combination on the part of the tenants to save the people from being cleared away, as they had been in past years." At that time everyone in the parish, except some twelve farmers, who, he believed, required assistance, but did not ask for it, was relieved, either in kind or in money. Shortly afterwards the League was established, so that that combination which was so much needed on the part of the tenants could be assured. Before the establishment of the League in Killoglin several outrages occurred in the locality. In regard to these the rev. gentleman gave the names of the outraged persons. The Rev. Father added that prior to the establishment of the League his experience was that the landlords frequently confiscated the improvements made on the land by tenants.


Father Lawlor explained in cross-examination by Sir Henry James why there were now no records of the proceedings of the League forthcoming. He said that at the meetings there was so much work to do that frequently he was detained from two o'clock in the afternoon till six in the evening. This represented so much labour that they did not care to ask anyone to take a note of the proceedings, as there would be no monetary recompense for such a task. He was pressed by Sir Henry James as to whether it was not a fact that they sat as a sort of Court, and adjudicated upon matters connected with the League, settled disputes, and decided whether boycotting should be resorted to or not. To all this the witness replied in the affirmative. But again he repeated that they kept no record, though they had a book in which the names of those who came before the League were inscribed, and this he promised to produce tomorrow.
As the cross-examination proceeded, Father Lawlor very candidly described the grounds upon which the branch decided to boycott an offender. He said that if it came to their knowledge that a person had taken an evicted farm and refused to give it up, they at once followed the advice of Mr. Parnell, contained in the words, "Avoid him." (Contained in the words "Avoid him" implies that we must look at the words "avoid him" and find words (precisely two) which I believe to be "void him" (kill him.)
The Court here adjourned for luncheon.


On resuming, Sir Henry James questioned Father Lawlor about what took place at the meeting of the League after the Curtin murder. At the meeting, he understood there was a compact body of armed strangers, who, when he denounced the murder, raised a shout of dissent. He declared that he was unable to describe the men or to say whether they were connected in any way with the League.


Father Daniel Harrington was the next witness. He is the President of the Seminary College at Listowel. As a prominent member of the Land League, and, after that, of the National League, he had, he said, on all occasions denounced crime and outrage - at the altar, at public meetings, and at meetings of the branch to which he was attached. He described the associations between tenant and landlord in North Kerry in 1879, expressing the opinion that, had it not been for the League, there would have been wholesale clearances; that the League acted as a repressive organ so far as crime was concerned; and that it weaned the people partially - but, unfortunately, not wholly - from assassination. Of the Phoenix Park murders, he said they caused consternation in the neighbourhood. On the Monday following the tragedy the town went into mourning, and the children attached to the schools marched through the streets with crape on their arms.
Replying to Mr. Davitt, Father Harrington expressed his candid belief that there were signs of the demoralisation of the police in the district to which his evidence referred; but he preferred to describe their conduct as "remissness of duty" rather than as "demoralisation." He gave two instances. On one occasion, he said, the police were informed that threatening notices were about to be posted, but they took no action, and the notices were posted; and on another they were informed certain cattle were to be slaughtered; but as they refused to take action on the warning the cattle were slaughtered.


Father Harrington declared that it had come to his knowledge that a man named Cullinan, who was in the pay of the police, organised murder in the locality.
The cross-examination of the rev. Father had only just commenced, when a question arose as to whether Mr. Atkinson should ask him his opinion upon certain outrages.
The President took the opportunity of commenting upon the fact that the witness had given no particular evidence, and had only spoken in a general way. He suggested that in future witnesses should be called who would only speak to specific occurrences.
Mr. Lockwood replied that a general charge had been made against his clients, and it was for that reason that general evidence had been called. However, he thought the suggestion met that made by his friend Sir Charles Russell, and he had no doubt it would be appreciated.
Again Mr. Atkinson addressed himself to the task of cross-examination. "Where is the man Cullinan, who you said organised murder?" - "Ah," was the reply, "I can't say. The Government knows best about that." Asked if he ever exhorted the people of the neighbourhood to endeavour to bring criminals to justice, he exclaimed, "I might as well as the people to try to capture 'Jack the Ripper.'"
Mr. John Shea, the proprietor of an hotel at Glenbeigh, described the condition of the people there in 1879, the formation of the League in 1884-5, and the events at the evictions of 1887, adding that during the whole of the eviction campaign - and the League was in active working order at the time - no crime of any kind was committed.
The Secretary of the Knocknagoshen branch of the League - John Greeny - produced the minute book, and spoke to the general denunciation of crime by the branch.
Thomas J. O'Connor, a draper and grocer, in the same village, denied the statement of a Times witness named Tobin, who said he (Mr. O'Connor) offered him 5 pounds if he would "lift" the cattle of a tenant named Connor.
The Court here adjourned at four o'clock.


Mr. Parnell is (the London Correspondent of the Manchester Guardian informs us) to be recalled before the Special Commission for the purpose of being examined on certain matters about which the evidence that he has already given was incomplete. Amongst these matters may be mentioned the accounts of the Land League and the National League and such portions of Mr. Parnell's private correspondence as the Attorney-General may desire to have information and explanations about.


The investigations into the Cronin case grow more and more interesting. It is said that public opinion justifies the discharge of the men Moroney and M'Donald, and the refusal of the authorities of the State to send them in custody to Chicago. The New York Correspondent of the Standard tells us that the failure to identify them is amply explained by the fact that the photograph said to be Moroney's was only one of a group taken at the dedication of the Clan-Na-Gael monument. Martin Burke, alias Delaney, who is now under arrest at Winnipeg, is looked upon with some suspicion. It is asserted by the Chicago Correspondent of the New York Herald that the police have found in Burke's trunk Dr. Cronin's hat and other property of the late doctor. Burke's photograph is among a group of prominent Clan-Na-Gael men, and among fifty photographs has been selected by all witnesses independently as one of Williams's brothers who committed the murder.
According to a Chicago newspaper, there is every prospect of the Cronin inquiry assuming a character even more sensational than heretofore. There is said to be a mysterious conspirator, who has placed himself in communication with the police, and has agreed to give evidence for the State. It is added that a vile murder conspiracy will be laid entirely bare by the man, and that it will be impossible for the criminals to escape the penalty of their crime. Such a sensational denouement has, however, been promised on and off since the announcement of the tragedy, but to outward appearance it is still far off.


An enterprising American newspaper by some means obtained a copy of the "rules and rites" of the Clan-Na-Gael. In their ritual the conspirators, it appears, adopted the device of using the alphabetical letter next succeeding the real one to afford necessary concealment and protection in case of discovery. Thus: -

1. F-o-h-m-b-o-e.
2. E-n-g-l-a-n-d.

3. J-s-f-m-b-o-e.
4. I-r-e-l-a-n-d.

5. J-s-j-t-i-n-f-o.
6. I-r-i-s-h-m-e-n.

7. V.C.
8. U.B.

The oath furnishes what may be a possible clue to the Cronin murder. The candidate solemnly pledges himself, under penalty of death, not only "to keep strictly secret the name and everything connected with this C'e from all not entitled to know such secrets;" but also that he will "faithfully preserve the funds of the C'e for the cause of Jsjti Revolution alone."

Source: The Echo, Wednesday June 19, 1889

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

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