THE RATHANGAN LADIES’ LAND LEAGUE AND THE POLICE

by jdurney on March 16, 2011

The Kildare Observer, January 7, 1882

THE RATHANGAN LADIES’ LAND LEAGUE

AND THE POLICE.

By order of the executive the ladies of Rathangan held a meeting on Sunday last. The members present were – Mrs. J Murphy, president; Mrs. J.J. Morrin, vice-president; Miss Kelly, treasurer; Miss Dunne and Miss O’Shaughnessy, secretaries; members of the committee – Mrs. Flynn, Miss McCabe, Miss Jacob, Miss M.S. Byrne, Miss M. Byrne and Miss Alicia Flood. Unavoidable circumstances prevented the meeting from taking place at the usual meeting room. The meeting was an open air one; it was held on the road. Before going to the place of the meeting some of the committee members were met by Constable Doyle, who warned them against holding a meeting and said it would be illegal, and that he had the authority to stop it.
Not deeming himself sufficiently powerful, he went away, but returned almost immediately with Sub-Constable Doyle; the latter was directed to take down the names of the ladies present.
Constable – I’ll have to do my duty, although it is a very painful one. I’ll have to disperse you if you meet.
Miss Dunne – You shall require an Act of Parliament before you succeed in doing that.
Miss Kelly – And I may ask you when did Parliament sit?
Miss O’Shaughnessy – It must have been last night.
The Constable gave another warning as the ladies proceeded down the road. When they arrived at a considerable distance they stood. There was only one drawback – there was no chair for the president. “The stand still” attracted the notice of the police and the police were seen to advance once more. When they got as far as the meeting, Miss Kelly was engaged in telling them of a letter from her cousin, Mr. Patrick Murphy, now a “suspect” in Naas prison.
Miss Dunne – And I have to read you an address to the women of Ireland. Here the Constable caught hold of Miss Dunne, turned her round, saying – “You go home now.” He then addressed the other ladies telling them, “I’ll disperse you by force.”
Mrs. Murphy – I am astonished at you, constable, to treat any lady after such a manner. Indeed, I would not expect that you would treat any lady so roughly.
Constable – I did not treat her roughly.
Miss Dunne returning – I have to announce £7 12s. 9d. collected in the boxes for the prisoners during the month of December. Constable – I tell you to go home. I ask you to go home ladies.
Mrs. Flynn – `Tis a fine day and we intend to take advantage of the sunshine. Mrs. Murphy – Yes, we intend to have a walk today.
The ladies then started for the walk, accompanied by the constable and sub-constable. They soon fell back and returned to the town. In their absence the following resolution was proposed by Miss O’Shaughnessy, and passed unanimously:-
“That we condemn the arbitrary action of the authorities in attempting to prevent our ordinary meeting specially convened for the purpose of collecting funds for our imprisoned brethren, and we call to our sister leaguers to attend on Sunday to hold a meeting for this charitable cause. Proposed by Miss Kelly and seconded by Miss Jacob. “That we heartily congratulate Miss Reynolds for he courage in going to jail sooner than give bail.” The constable and sub-constable paid another visit to the ladies.
Constable – Now do not annoy me but go home.
Miss O’Shaughnessy – It would be a pity to do anything that would displease you.
Constable – But I have the authority to disperse you.
Miss Dunne – Yes, you have Colonel Hillier’s proclamation.
Miss O’Shaughnessy – That is only a police proclamation.
Constable – The Government declares all Land League meetings illegal.
Miss Dunne – Oh, the Government is like Foster’s conscience. It is elastic and can stretch a long way.
Constable (shaking his head) – Oh you –
Miss O’Shaughnessy – You had no right to treat Miss Dunne after the fashion you did.
Constable – I did not treat her badly. I know I’ll be in the newspaper, and I am sure it will loose nothing by the telling. (Turning to the sub-constable) – I hope you have all the names down? The police then retired amidst a storm of cheers and exclamations of derision. The ladies then finished their business, and all are determined to carry out the orders of the Executive, and hold their meetings as usual.
The ladies then walked up the town, and cheer after cheer was given for the Ladies Land League, and an occasional cry of “Down with Buckshot.

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