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DEATH OF LT. WOGAN BROWNE - THE INQUEST

Kildare Observer, Saturday February 18, 1922

Murder of Lieut. Wogan Browne.

THE INQUEST.
 
An inquest into the cause of death of Lieut J. H. Wogan Browne was opened by Dr. Jeremiah O’ Neill, Deputy Coroner for South Kildare, at the Curragh Military Hospital on Saturday evening at 1 o’ clock, and occupied over three hours. The jury were: Messrs Percy Podger (foreman), Luke Hanlon, Laurence Higgins, James Connor, Jas. Hade, Philip Hade, Maurice Condran, John Magrath, William Rowley, Henry Church, James Clune, Richard Weller, and Enock Poole.
Mr. Lipsett, K.C. (instructed by Mr. C. Blair White, Crown Solicitor). Represented the military authorities.
There were in attendance:- The Brigade Police Officer: Captain Sean Kavanagh, representing the 1st Eastern Division I.R.A.: Company Officers W. Graham and James Doyle, I.R.A. District-Inspector Queenan, R.T.C., Kildare, having deposed to holding a post mortem.
Patrick Daly, a young man of 18 years, was examined by District-Inspector Queenan, and stated he lived at Cross Keys, Kildare. He was employed by Mr. Kennedy, garage proprietor, at Kildare. He was in the garage on Friday when two young men came in and asked if they could hire a car to leave them in Kilcullen, and asked what would be the charge. I went upstairs and asked the boss, and told them they could have the car for 15s. I asked what time they wanted the car, and if they would have any delay there. They said they would want the car at 11 o’ clock and that they would have no delay – that they merely wanted to be left there. They went in the direction of the Square and came back about 11 o’ clock. The two men waited for a little time, and when the car was ready they started off. They got into the car and Mr. Kennedy’s driver – Thomas Graham – drove the car. I did not see the third man get into the car. I only saw two.
To D.I. Queenan – I described those men to District-Inspector Sweeny.
Thomas Grehan deposed in reply to D.I. Queenan – I am employed as a driver and mechanic by Mr. Kennedy. On yesterday morning I was called at between 11 and quarter past 11 o’ clock to go out with the car. The men came into the shop.
To the Coroner – I saw two men in the Square first about quarter past 10. At quarter past 11 I took out the car and the two men I had seen in the shop got into it. They told me to drive to the Infirmary. When I got to the Post Office going down they said: “Stop at the School gate”. I was a time there, and they said they were waiting for another man to come along. No other man came along until the shooting. They asked me to put up the hood of the car and I did so. One of them helped me to put it up.
To D.I. Queenan – I saw soon afterwards a military officer coming from the direction of the town going towards the military barracks.
D.I. Queenan (to Coroner) – There are many barracks, sir.
Witness – He was coming from the direction of the police barracks. When the military officer approached the car I saw one of the men take out a revolver. He pulled a magazine out of his pocket.
District-Inspector – A revolver?
Witness – No; it was not in the shape of a revolver – a magazine I hear it called.
D.I. Queenan – What did he do then? – He walked towards the officer.
What occurred then? – When he got within a few yards the officer jumped to catch hold of him.
To the Coroner – He jumped apparently to catch hold of him.
To District-Inspector – He presented the weapon. I did not hear any words. They ordered me to start the car.
Coroner – Who ordered you to start?
Witness – One of the men beside me ordered me to start the car. He had a revolver.
To D.I. – The man who ordered me to start had a revolver in his pocket.
Coroner – How do you know that he had it in his pocket? – I saw him take it out of his breast and put it in his coat pocket.
D.I. – Did a second man approach the officer? – He did; yes. The hood was up. I could not see, but I could hear a struggle behind the car on the road. I did not hear any of the men fall.
Did you hear a shot – Yes.
And after the shot what happened – The man that was standing beside the car leaped in beside where I was – on to the seat next to me.
D.I. – Did you see the officer fall? – I did not. The other two men jumped into the car.
Anything else? – Yes; one of the men said “Well, that fellow is done, anyhow”.
D.I. Queenan – That was after he got into the car? – Yes.
Having got into the car, what did they further say? – They said: “Drive on.”
Did they indicate what direction? – Yes; they said “Drive round by the Nunnery.”
And they threatened you? - Yes; they told me that if I went to identify them in any way that there was more than three of them in it, and they would get me something.
During that time what words did they use – did they say anything else to you? – Not that I could hear anyhow.
To Coroner – They said only “Drive quickly”, this several times and nothing more.
To D.I. – I drove them to the bog. I do not know what bog.
To a Juror – It is towards Kildoon.
To D.I. – I do not know it as Maddenstown bog. I drove out for about three miles. They told me to pull up then and they got out of the car.
Did they say anything to you when going out? – Yes; they told me to go to hell or something, and then they told me to take the first turn to the left. That was in the direction of Kildoon. I continued on and came back into Kildare immediately. I did not pass through Suncroft. When I came to Kildare I met you (D.I.Queenan) in the garage.
District-Inspector – In reply to certain questions you made a statement to me? – Yes.
Was it somewhat as you have given hero? – Yes.
You told me roughly what occurred? – Yes.
Did you know any of these men – I did not know any of them.
To the Coroner – They were strangers to me.
To D.I. – I gave a description of them to the Captain of the Volunteers and to the military officer and to the police.
District-Inspector – Did you assist to the best of your ability to trace where these people went? – I did, yes.
D.I. – Did you see anything in their possession afterwards? – They carried the bag.
Coroner – What bag?
Witness – The bag they took from the officer.
To D.I. – The officer threw the bag on the ground when attacked and the man took the bag.
To the Coroner – He brought the bag over to the car. It was a kind of canvas bag
To D.I. – Subsequently when they left my car they took the bag away. When they left the car near Kildoon they took it with them.
Foreman – How long did the incident occupy – the shooting incident?
Coroner – How long was it from the attack until the men got into the car? – It was not more than two minutes.
To a Juror – The car was in the road for five or ten minutes. One man walked over to meet the officer.
To a Juror (Mr. Rowley_ - They told me to take the Tully road. They appeared to know the road thoroughly.
Mr. Rowley – Had they the appearance of country men? – Yes.
To the Coroner – They told me to take the Tully road as if they had some knowledge of the district.
To a Juror – The officer was shot behind the car and the hood was up. I did not see the third man approaching until he humped in. The engine was stopped for five or ten minutes, and when the officer was coming down I was told to re-start it. The man that followed the gentleman walked down by Nolan’s. There was another man who walked across to meet him. Another man remained with me in the car all the time.
Charles Swain, in reply to District-Inspector Queenan, stated: - I am the cashier in the Hibernian bank at Kildare. I remember yesterday morning, 10th inst. I saw the late Lieut. Browne in the bank about quarter past 11 o’ clock. He presented a cheque for payment. I produced the cheque. He would not have been in the bank more than about five minutes. He carried a small haversack. I know he put the silver in the bag but am not certain about the balance, but they usually put all the cash into it after getting it from me.
D.I. Queenan – How much silver?
Witness – About £20 – that would be four £5 packets. The remainder was in notes - £100 in Bank of Ireland single notes and £15 in Treasury 10s. notes. That would be £135 in all. Mr. Wogan Browne generally came early. He was generally first to come. Friday is the pay day for the Battery.
Did he always go by himself? – Yes two may come together. He always came early and was always alone.
Mrs Lizzie Flanagan, in reply to D.I. Queenan deposed she was married and resided at New Row, Kildare. I was coming down Hospital Street at about 11.00 yesterday morning. When at the Protestant school gate I saw a motor car standing and two men were standing on the footpath. I heard a row, and, turning round, I saw the two civilians and the officer fighting on the road. One of the civilians fell, and then I saw the officer and the other man standing on the road and the shot went off. I then met another officer on the road, and I told him that one of his officers was after being shot. He asked me where, and I said “Just above the corner, sir.” The officer turned back into the barracks. That is all I know.
D.I. Queenan – Did you know any of these people who were scuffling with the officer? – No, sir.
To Mr. Lipsett, K.C. – There was a noise from the motor car. I noticed the car before the officer came up.
To a Juror – I was coming from the police barrack direction. I did not see the third man.
To D.I. Queenan – I noticed the driver, who appeared to be sitting by the wheel.
To the Foreman – I only saw the two men scuffling in the road with the officer.
To Mr. Lipsett. K.C. – She did not notice anyone about. There was not a Christian on the road beside myself.
To D.I. Queenan – I was on the footpath. The hood of the car was up. A man might be round in the shade on the other side. I did not see anyone other than what I have said. I did not notice anyone walking behind the officer. I did not take notice of any.
Driver Harold Onions, R.F.A., examined by D.I. Queenan, stated he was stationed at the Artillery barrack gate at the time of the occurrence. I saw a motor car on the road. It was about 20 minutes to 12 o’ clock. The car was there for about five minutes. I noticed the driver standing in front of the car. I was 150 yards from that point. I did not see anything happening.
Coroner – Did you hear a shot? – Yes, sir; I heard a shot.
Coroner – That was what attracted your attention? – Yes: I saw the officer fall. I only saw the driver in the car. The car moved away immediately the shot went. I could not say how many people were in the car. It was too far away. The hood was up.
To the Coroner – The car went away from me, starting immediately. I saw nothing more.
District-Inspector – Later you went up to where the officer fell? – Yes sir.
And in what condition did you find the officer? – He was lying with his face downwards. I turned him over: he was dead.
Was he bleeding? – Yes, sir.
Did you notice any wound? – He was shot through here (pointing to his forehead).
Coroner – did you turn him over? – Yes, sir. “The wound was over the eye”.
A considerable time was occupied by the post mortem examination by Surgeon F. T. Coady, Kildare, and Captain O’ Malley, R.A.M.C.
Dr. E. T. Coady stated he was called to the Kildare military barracks, where he saw Lieut. Wogan Browne, who was reported to be shot. He found life extinct. He made a post mortem examination, assisted by Captain O’ Malley. The deceased had a wound over the right eye and an abrasion on the left side of the forehead and left side of the chin. There was a wound in the occipital bone. Death was due to laceration of the brain. He found all the organs had been healthy.
To the Coroner – The abrasion may be due to falling on the road. It was a skin abrasion.
Captain O’ Malley. R.A.M.C., sworn, stated he assisted at the post mortem examination. He agreed with Dr. Coady. Death was due to laceration of the brain. There was wound in the occipital bone over the right eye, and portion of the temple bone was fractured. The heart and lungs were normal, as were the abdominal viscera.
Coroner – do you agree with Dr. Coady as to the abrasion on the face?
Witness – Absolutely.
The Coroner said the evidence in the case was very clear. It was shown that the officer was attacked at Kildare, and that he was fired at and shot. They had evidence of the shooting and they had the doctors evidence, which showed that a bullet entered the frontal bone and the brain, causing death. It appears to me the only verdict is wilful murder against some person or persons unknown. It is, of course, gentlemen, for you to say what is your verdict.
The Coroner added – Lieut. J. H. Wogan Browne comes of an old and distinguished Co. Kildare family that had hundreds of gallant gentleman famous in history and in story, and it is for you, gentlemen, should you so desire, to express your strong condemnation of the dastardly crime committed in your midst, a crime absolutely un-Irish and which one could understand in some of the larger cities of the world, but not here – a crime absolutely devoid of any political significance, and apparently perpetrated for money in the young officer’s possession. Further, gentlemen, it is the duty of loyal Irishmen to give every assistance to the Provisional Government to bring the authors of this outrage, culminating in the death of this young and promising officer, to justice. You, gentlemen, should you desire, can express your deep sympathy and pass a vote of condolence with the family of the deceased, which I shall duly convey to the relatives.
The jury, having deliberated for some time, found that death was due to injury to the brain, caused by a gunshot wound inflicted by some person or persons unknown and returned a verdict of wilful murder against some person or persons unknown.
Mr. Clune (juror) said the views of the jury were expressed in the full statement made by the Coroner with reference to the deceased officer. The jury expressed their abhorrence of the crime, which had been so foully committed in their midst, and conveyed to the relatives of the deceased an expression of deep sympathy.
 

The Inquest into the death of Wogan Browne. Tonight Wednesday 2 April 2008 James Durney will deliver a talk for the Cill Dara Historical Society, on The Death of Wogan Browne in the Kildare Education Centre (old parochial house), Kildare Town at 8 p.m. 

This article for EHistory is copied from the Grey Abbey Conservation Project site. See also reports on The Funeral of Wogan Browne and Votes of Sympathy etc. at www.kildare.ie/greyabbey

[compiled and edited by Mario Corrigan; typed and edited by Breid Kelly - the report here on the inquest is an excerpt from a larger report in the Kildare Observer which also described in detail the funeral of Lt. Wogan Browne]


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